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17 Apr 98

Cover Letter

I'm thinking in cover letters, coming up with "hire me" strategies. A few minutes ago, I finished a first draft:

Dear [Name of Creative Director],

After you hire me as a copywriter, [Name of Agency] can apply my clear, enthusiastic prose to its most difficult projects. My new media experience will prove useful in building web sites. And my personal skills will make managers and clients request me for their projects.

After you hire me as a copywriter, you'll find that I work according to

  1. My relationship with a client comes before a good night's sleep. I never forget that the client's profits turn into my promotions.
  2. When I write, I begin with a cogent rhetorical strategy. Throwing words at paper can only yield weak copy. I start every writing project by understanding the audience, setting the goals for the copy, and choosing a relevant style.
  3. I keep my ego separate from editing. If an editor cuts my most cherished sentence, so what? I'm happy to see my work improved.

After you hire me as a copywriter, I ask you to provide informed

If you'd like to talk, ring 718-488-9095 or email to [ford@ftrain.com].

Sincerely,

Paul Ford

For inspiration, I own some stale resume books, books with titles like The Perfect Resume, Lying for Dollars, and What Color is Your Underwear?. They all read, "Your first sentence is the most important sentence. Make it count! Get the reader's attention and keep it." Wow, okay. How about:

Dear Sir,

I am not wearing any pants. Why? It's simple--it's because I'm sleeping with your wife!

I am not wearing any pants. Why? It's simple--it's because I'm sleeping with your wife!

Dear Sir,

Growing up, one of my favorite games was called "where's the peepee."

Growing up, one of my favorite games was called "where's the peepee."

Dear Sir,

Have you ever wondered what a 22 year old lingerie model might do to get hired as a copywriter?

Have you ever wondered what a 22 year old lingerie model might do to get hired as a copywriter?

Quick diversion: historical cover letters.

Deer Shaman Og,

I get job as Og assistant. I go getter. I valedictorian at ax school (graduated in year of dark sky). I find meat kill animal. Now want to learn Og magic and find more animal. Have experience both hunter and gatherer.

Sincere,

Grun

Dear Mr. Redbeard,

I recently saw your advertisement requesting pirates and feel that I'm truly qualified for the job. I possess the three qualities needed in a crewman on the "Jolly Percy." First, I love to pillage. Second, I am good at math. Lastly, I enjoy killing mutineers.

Finally, I am a member in good standing of the Masons.

Sincerely,


Josiah Angewald
Walsey-on-Green, London


Dear Mr. Churchill.

I am applying for the position of cryptographer for the war effort. As you can see, xrksl lrkdoo wnss. Tjdjdma mmdjj mwrri foi wrmemqhn meljuis ioauaow.

Xrdjjsdjs,

Alan Turing

Sincere,

Grun


Dear Mr. Redbeard,

I recently saw your advertisement requesting pirates and feel that I'm truly qualified for the job. I possess the three qualities needed in a crewman on the "Jolly Percy." First, I love to pillage. Second, I am good at math. Lastly, I enjoy killing mutineers.

Finally, I am a member in good standing of the Masons.

Sincerely,


Josiah Angewald
Walsey-on-Green, London


Dear Mr. Churchill.

I am applying for the position of cryptographer for the war effort. As you can see, xrksl lrkdoo wnss. Tjdjdma mmdjj mwrri foi wrmemqhn meljuis ioauaow.

Xrdjjsdjs,

Alan Turing

But history be damned. The only way I'll get to be an advertising copywriter (a secret dream of mine for three years now) is to write out the resume and assemble the portfolio. As always, I'll let you know how it comes out.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.

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