Your cover letter is supposed to catch a prospective employer's eye, but that's easier said than done when it's buried under a pile of applications. As a result, nearly every professional has his or her own advice when it comes to writing one of these formal introductions and bids for employment.
There's a typical formula many follow, but some job hopefuls have tried more inventive techniques to get their applications noticed. While success isn't guaranteed, these individuals chose more creative paths on the road to employment.
SEE ALSO: No Resume, No Cover Letter — Instagram Scored the Job
Whether you're looking for ideas to improve your job search, or you just want to see what people are willing to do to get an interview, here are six impressive cover letters that can inspire you to up your application game.
1. The Direct Approach
Lindsay Blackwell wanted to be social media director of the University of Michigan. Instead of typing up a typical cover letter, the tried and (sometimes) true method, she created a website with a video directed at Lisa Rudgers, the university's vice president for global communications and strategic Initiatives.
While Blackwell didn't ultimately get the job, she did land an interview for the position — an impressive feat on its own.
2. Using the Changing Communication Landscape
Video: YouTube, Graeme Anthony
Graeme Anthony, a PR practitioner looking for a job, uploaded his professional information to YouTube rather than creating a traditional cover letter and resume. Anthony's interactive video application included a breakdown of his skills and timeline for potential employers. It showed his video-producing and editing knowledge as well as his ability to use online resources.
Sometimes employers appreciate sheer honesty above well-written prose and assertions of dedication and passion. An unnamed applicant applied for a summer internship on Wall Street with a short but honest letter.
Whether the lack of embellishment helped secure the position for the student is unknown, but it made quite a splash online and proved that honesty really can be the best policy.
4. A Little Design Goes a Long Way
Image: Alice Lee
With a company as geared to the visual as Instagram, it can take more than a well-worded letter to catch the team's attention.
Twenty-year-old Alice Lee used her design skills to create an interactive website, complete with an Instagram stream with the social network's API. Instagram didn't end up hiring Lee, but she did get to speak to CEO Kevin Systrom, and Lee's site eventually led to an internship with another company.
5. Using the Product Itself
Video: SlideRocket, Hanna Phan
If the company you're interested in makes a specific product, integrating it into your cover letter will show that you're not only familiar with the company, but also that you're resourceful.
For Hanna Phan, the product she needed to use was a slideshow creator. Her imaginative cover letter for SlideRocket incorporated their technology and her style to create an engaging cover letter. If anything, Phan proves that all it takes is a little extra effort and knowledge of a product to make a lasting impression on potential bosses.
6. Using Ads to Your Advantage
Most of us have Googled ourselves at least once or twice, if only to make sure that nothing strange turns up with our names. With that in mind, Alec Brownstein decided to buy ads that would appear when specific people searched for creative directors' names, or more importantly, when said directors Googled themselves.
The ads led to Brownstein's site with a message that simply read, "Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too." Brownstein now works at Y&R New York, and the ads only cost him $6. It isn't exactly a cover letter, but it isn't a bad strategy.