Not Your Typical Cover Letter

How I landed a coveted job at a leading travel tech company

Back in June 2019 (which now seems like light years ago)¹, I was applying for a job which I really, really wanted. The job description spoke to me like nothing ever did before, and the company came with glowing reviews. It seemed to attract only top candidates, the crème de la crème, so I figured I really had to stand out to get noticed and be invited for an interview.

So I wrote and submitted the cover letter which you’re about to read.² I’m sharing it with you because I think it’s cool and obviously that’s all that matters.

Not really, I’m sharing it here because I don’t think cover letters should be the dull, repetitive, formulaic process they seem to have become. It’s a place for you to show who you really are, to let the “you” that doesn’t come across in the CV shine through. And really, wouldn’t that recruiter sifting through dozens of cover letters rejoice at reading something that’s actually fun?

So without further ado, I give you:

Cover letter for Learning & Development Consultant role (Bangkok-based)

Dear Recruitment/Learning & Development team,

It’s the “sense of humor [is] a must” that did it. I was casually browsing jobs on LinkedIn, and the “Consultant” in the title attracted me, so I clicked and started reading. As I read, I thought: this sounds like a good fit. The roles and responsibilities match well with what I have been doing at [company I was working for at the time]. The fact that many roles are up for grasp in L&D also leads me to think that you are building a new team, which is a great opportunity for challenges, learning, and growth. But it’s the sense of humor that sealed it. That you would put this in the job description says a lot about the company culture and the kind of people who work here. Hence this letter.

You have my CV and LinkedIn profile, so I won’t bore you with the same details. Let me tell you something you don’t know. In 2007, I had my first life crisis which to an eighteen-year-old who had always excelled at school seemed major: I got a C in my A-level history essay. In retrospect, this was to be expected. I had spent thirteen years in an education system that asked for the cause of World War I with a multiple-choice question. As if one could definitively pick a cause. So being asked to give an opinion on history (who was I to do that?) baffled me. It required a paradigm shift in my way of thinking and viewing the world, as well as myself.

Since 2007, I have had many other “crises” — I’ve put this between quotation marks because I don’t see them as a bad thing: these “crises” define me; they led me to grow into the person I am today. Let me share two important examples.

The lack of constant re-affirmation of my academic abilities at university plunged me into several depressions which each time I recovered from through experimenting with various activities, to which I attribute my resilience. The biggest depression hit in 2013, which resulted in me postponing my finals for a year. You see, one line in my CV saying I graduated from UCL with a first-class honours doesn’t tell you all this, which is why I love cover letters. (And no, I don’t get depressed anymore. Occasionally stressed, of course. But I’ve learned to manage that.)

I also wasn’t very good at making friends, which resulted in a very lonely four years at university and caused me to seriously doubt my social acumen. It’s this doubt that led me to [first company I worked for]. I knew I wasn’t very good at people’ing and so — typical of me who (according to a close friend) always run head-on at desired targets like a bull — I chose a job where I would be surrounded by people, so I could get better at it. And better at it, I got.

The above are only two of the challenges that made me who I am. There are more I will be happy to share face-to-face. Of course, I will also tell you how I will excel in this role, how I plan to shape the learning culture at [company I was applying to join], why I want to join your team, and all that jazz. But anyone can say any number of things that make them seem like the perfect candidate. One learns how to play the game, and you have the tough job of peering through the façade, of uncovering the real them.

I hope, with this letter, I have shared with you a little of the real me. If you like the sound of me, then let’s meet.

Sincerely,

Val

And that’s it. Cheeky little Val and her cheeky cover letter that landed her what she considered at the time to be her dream job. (And in many ways it was, but more on that another day.)

Until next Friday… Stay cool, stay safe, stay thoughtful,

Val

Before you go…

This post is taken from my July 9, 2021 newsletter. If you like what you’ve read, check out the archive or sign up for a thought like this every Friday.

Footnotes

  1. Yes, I am aware light years are a measure of distance, but it sounds nice so let’s just roll with it.
  2. I was invited for an interview the next day and, yes, I did get the job.

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