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  • Having trouble finding a better graphic design position

    Hello. I am having huge frustrations finding a better full-time job and thought some input here may help me understand what I may be doing wrong.

    I live in New Jersey (very close to NYC). I have been applying to dozens of jobs (mostly in NJ, some in NY) but I cannot seem to land anything decent.

    I have been on 3 interviews so far. All at really nice studios that are very pro. One job I got very close to getting but the owners did not want to listen to the art director and said my salary range was too high. The director really liked me but they wanted more of an entry level designer.

    So I am wondering how my cover letter reads and if it is good for design employers. I am wondering if that is a big part of the problem. Below is a sample cover letter I send out (these are for general inquiries usually). Any input into the cover letter would be greatly appreciated.


    Dear Sir or Madam,

    My name is Danny Smith. I am very curious as to any open positions at Daldo Advertising, as I strongly admire the work Daldo Advertising produces, and would be thrilled to apply for any potential positions.

    I am a graphic designer as well as a web designer/developer. With my 7+ years of design, branding, advertising and web design/development experience, I feel I would make a great candidate for possible positions.

    Below is a link containing much of my work and attached is my resume, further detailing my experience and skills. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,
    Danny Smith
    www.xxxxxxxxx.com



    Any input would be great. Thanks.
    Last edited by PanToshi; 10-12-2016, 07:47 PM.

  • #2
    I have a friend that does recruiting for a big name studio and she tells me that, despite what you heard, she can care less about the cover letter. She know's it's generic, copied and pasted, the artist's portfolio is what matters the most. If you think about it the cover letter doesn't really tell you anything about the artist other than their ability to write. A dick isn't going to say "I'm a dick" in their cover letter. Someone's character can only be determined by meeting and working with them. Although everything I've read out there says the cover letter is important, I disagree.

    Comment


    • #3
      Are you emailing this out? Nothing wrong with that but a lot of the emails go straight in the spam folder. I would think a better impact would be something on paper.

      A link to your resume and portfolio is OK but I would include the resume on a separate sheet and some of your portfolio with the link so they can follow up.

      Dear Sir or Madam is bad too - find out who you are sending this out to and use their name. Add a line about a meeting of some kind. If you want to meet them and have a look around it gives a good impression. It also suggests that you are evaluating them which suggests you have other options and are trying to pick the best one.
      Time flies like an arrow - fruit flies like a banana

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Frank and welcome to GDF.

        We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
        Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.

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        • #5
          You may have answered your own question in your initial post. If you are applying for entry level positions but requesteing to be paid at a senior level, then that would pose an issue. When I was searching for a job I rarely came across senior level design jobs. Almost everything I saw was entry level.

          You may want to switch up where you are looking for a job. Are you using Linkedin? That would probably serve better to find a senior design job. Opposed to something like Indeed which seems to show more entry design jobs.

          Comment


          • #6
            The letter, quite honestly, it's poorly written. It comes across as desperate.
            You needn't mention you are looking for a position, any position, 3 times in as many paragraphs.

            I do read the cover letter first. It gives me some idea about the person's ability to write something concise and to the point.

            I wouldn't be looking for someone ''curious'' about ''any'' position I might have open.
            What do you want to do, and why would you be really awesome at doing it?


            Comment


            • frankdoug
              frankdoug commented
              Editing a comment
              This is some great info. Thanks. I will def change some based on this input.

              I totally see what you are saying about the desperation. That is a difficult thing to change as I am trying to say that I am interested in the company without seeming desperate. If not too much trouble can you tell me how you would show strong interest without sounding desperate?

              Also I think I only mentioned interest in the company twice, not 3 times. But I understand.

              And when I say "curious" it is because these are general inquiries into companies that do not necessarily have job listings. I have most luck applying to jobs in that way.

              Thanks again.

            • PrintDriver
              PrintDriver commented
              Editing a comment
              ...I am very curious as to any open positions at Daldo Advertising...

              ...and would be thrilled to apply for any potential positions.

              ...I feel I would make a great candidate for possible positions.
              3 times.

              The thing about design agencies? They like to tell people who they are. A lot of times the website will have complete bios of the senior designers on staff. It doesn't take too much work to find a name.
              Last edited by PrintDriver; 10-13-2016, 07:53 PM.

          • #7
            Right^. While I do agree that the cover letter, in concept, has outlived its original purpose, it is at least a chance to demonstrate your ability to communicate in a way that makes an impression. As a designer, effectual communication is the business you're in, right?

            Your letter is timid in its tenor and nervous in its rhythm, as it repeats its references to "positions;" that are "possible" and "potential." There's no need to point out what's attached. They can see the attachments, and they already expected them. You might as well be telling them the sky is above their heads.

            The written word is like a drum. In the absence of tension it just makes a dull noise that could easily go unnoticed and dismissed as "ambient." But a properly tensioned drum played well produces something that goes beyond mere sound to be heard by the ear; it's felt in the chest and in the loins; it turns heads at a distance; instinct suggests it must have a reason. You're supposed to be selling yourself. Your cover letter should add up to:
            • I'm a problem solver
            • I'll improve your operation
            • I'm worth more than you're offering
            • Failing to hire me would be a mistake
            Find friendly, coherent and concise ways to say that and you'll breathe new life into "cover letter" and your job search.
            I'd rather be killed than come to your party, but if you don't invite me, I'll kill myself.

            Comment


            • #8
              Your writing is passive, generic, awkwardly formal and comes across as almost apologetic.

              Get rid of the Sir or Madam line. If you want someone to pay attention, at least find out that person's name.

              You have an awful run-on sentence in your first paragraph that meanders here and there. Break it into shorter sentences.

              If you want a job, say so. Don't say you'd "be thrilled to apply for any potential positions." That sounds like you're a junior high school kid awkwardly asking a girl to consider dancing with you while you squirm around staring at the floor and feeling scared to death that she'll laugh at you. If you admire the agency's work, give an example or two so that it doesn't appears as though you're sending out a form letter to every agency in town.

              "I feel I would make a great candidate for possible positions." Now don't you think that's just a little shaky and weak-kneed? If you want to dance, walk straight over, look her in the eye, smile say something nice, then in your most confident and friendly voice say, "Would you like to dance?"

              Don't write something that sounds like a generic form letter sent by a socially awkward person stumbling around with passive words and phrases that make you seem insecure and apologetic for interrupting. Instead, write your cover letter like you're a genuinely friendly and confident person speaking directly to another person that you're happy to meet.

              Comment


              • frankdoug
                frankdoug commented
                Editing a comment
                Unfortunately I do not have the time to personalize every cover letter and I also do not have a name to address the cover letter to. I am more sending out cover letters by quantity, not personalizing each one. But now that I think about it maybe I should worry about quality of applications, not quantity.

                But this is some great info.

                Do you feel it is bad to use "I" a lot?

                Would you be able to show how you would rewrite those bad sentences I have? OR do you have any links to good cover letters in your opinion?

                Thanks so much. This is great stuff.

              • B
                B commented
                Editing a comment
                If you're looking for a job, that really should be your full-time job. If personalizing your emails will increase your chances by a few hundred percent (which it will), it seems more than worth your time to do so.

                As a frequent recipient of those generic cover letters, they're really easy to throw away when I know the generic people sending them had no idea who I am and likely sent out a couple dozen just like it the same day. A letter to me, however, that shows something more than generic interest, research and knowledge, usually gets read and saved.

                As for the word ''I'', it's awkward not to use it since it's your cover letter, but make the copy more about what you can do for them -- not what you'd like them to do for you.

                I don't have any cover letter examples to share, but I'm sure Google could turn up a few along with advice from experts on how to write them.
                Last edited by B; 10-13-2016, 09:55 PM.

              • frankdoug
                frankdoug commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks for this. Do you have any inout on how to personalize other than finding the person's name?

                Do you have any examples of other ways I can personalize for each company? Do you recommend that I make specific comments about some of their work? Any other ways?

                Can you share some things that people use (that you read in cover letters you receive) that catches your eye?

                Thanks again.

            • #9
              Unfortunately I do not have the time to personalize every cover letter and I also do not have a name to address the cover letter to. I am more sending out cover letters by quantity, not personalizing each one. But now that I think about it maybe I should worry about quality of applications, not quantity.
              There's your problem. Anyone can tell that you're putting quantity over quality, and that's not a good trait to have. Managers can see right away that you are sending the same letter to them that you sent to their competitor.

              If you tailor cover letters to a fraction of the companies you're sending mass mailings to, I bet you'll get a much better response rate for about the same amount of time spent.

              This blog has a bunch of realistic job search tips and what I love about the writer is that she quickly sees through BS and gimmiks: http://www.askamanager.org/category/cover-letters

              Comment


              • #10
                I agree with most if not all of what's been said already.

                Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result... we all know what that leads to.

                I think to cut through you have to do what most people are not doing.

                I could bet that a lot of people, if not most people do what you do (i.e mass mail outs, emails) and probably wonder why they are not getting the results they want.

                I will tell you what worked for me.

                When I was looking for work in the design / advertising industry my first step was calling the agency/company.

                I'd ask the receptionist for the name and the position of the person to write to that is responsible for hiring designers, creatives etc (usually this was the CD or the AD).

                I would then write a fairly punchy cover letter, personalising the letter to the person, the position and the agency.
                I'd print the letter out on good quality paper (not your standard A4 copy paper) and sign my name at the bottom - yes with real handwriting.

                Near the close of the letter I would ask them for 10 or 15 minutes of their time for a face to face meeting for a portfolio review (advertising and design agencies companies often agree to meeting because they're often on the lookout for new talent / people they can call on when they are busy).

                I would also tell them in the letter that I would follow up with a phone call on a certain date. I would call them on that day.

                More often than not, when I called and spoke to the person they remembered my letter. We'd have a quick phone chat and they either would or would not agree to meet with me. About 70% of the time it was a 'yes'.

                Through this method I landed a lot of freelance work as well as some medium and long term gigs. At one agency the CD asked at the close of the portfolio review, "When can you start? I have a 1 month freelance job. Can you do it?" Of course I said yes.

                We may live in an increasingly digital world, but for the most part companies don't hire until they meet a person face to face. People that hire need to know more than just your work experience and skills.

                Employers aren’t just hiring experience and skills. They’re hiring people.
                Last edited by Pavlo; 10-15-2016, 01:27 AM.

                Comment


                • #11
                  2 of the main things I worry about are my cover letter not being too long and when I personalize my words not sounding proper and professional enough.

                  Are these 2 things not worth worrying too much about?

                  Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    It sounds like you are writing to companies who are not actively seeking to fill in a position. As someone who has been on the hiring side of things, I only read cover letters and resumes when a specific position has been advertised. All unsolicited cover letters and resumes were binned.

                    Have you applied to all the recruitment agencies in the area who deal with graphic designers? That's where I would start. I'm not sure what's like in NJ/NY but in my country, most agencies go through creative recruiters. It's their job to sort and pass on suitable candidates and you have to be on their books to be put forward for jobs.
                    It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" – Winnie the Pooh

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Originally posted by frankdoug View Post
                      2 of the main things I worry about are my cover letter not being too long and when I personalize my words not sounding proper and professional enough.

                      Are these 2 things not worth worrying too much about?
                      As the grammar police, I'm compelled to point out how this last post of yours again demonstrates that your writing and grammar need work. Even in just these two sentences, at every turn you introduce a superfluous and negative slant that only adds ambiguity to that which you're trying to express.

                      Originally posted by frankdoug View Post
                      ... I worry about ... my cover letter not being too long...
                      Many people would read this as meaning you're worried that it's not long enough, but I suspect you mean that your worried about it being too long (as opposed to not being too long). The word "not" doesn't belong in this sentence. "I worry about it being too long."

                      The same goes for the remaining clause:

                      Originally posted by frankdoug View Post
                      ...and when I personalize my words not sounding proper and professional enough.
                      Don't you actually worry about whether your words do sound proper and professional? That negative color in all your statements and questions weakens and limits the impression your writing can make. Reread aloud everything you've typed into this thread, and notice how it all sounds predicated upon "I'm at a disadvantage."

                      Regarding your words sounding "proper and professional," be careful there too; it's always obvious when someone over-reaches for eloquence, finding a hyperbolic adjective to precede every noun, and an equally gratuitous prepositional phrase to follow. It's easy to overdo it.

                      Forget fussing over the length of the letter, and grammatically, forget "proper." Just get the sentence structure correct, and from there, make an effort to economize; expressing exactly what you want to say, and only what's necessary, in as few words as possible. Anything else amounts to bullshit, and many managers can smell it before they've read half of it. Make it natural, confident (that is, active; not passive), and straightforward.
                      I'd rather be killed than come to your party, but if you don't invite me, I'll kill myself.

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