Cover Letter : The bare minimum, ☑ ️6 check marks for a complete cover letter

Many of the cover letters I receive don’t get forwarded because there simply isn’t enough information to forward. Originally posted for Prototypr Medium, I explain 6 key parts to a bare minimum but, complete cover letter.


Cover Letter : The bare minimum

☑ ️6 check marks for a complete cover letter

The digital age we’re living in is speeding everything up. We want our news in a headline, our education in bullet points, and our courtships in a swipe. Cover letters have gotten minimal too, a habit that doesn’t always work to our advantage. Candidates omit essential bits of information that could have been the very reason to get hired. This article will explain 6 key parts to a bare minimum but, complete cover letter.

Throughout my years of freelancing I have had the opportunity to create a wide professional network, which has occasionally positioned me into becoming a recruiter. I will often post jobs for fellow colleagues. Many of the cover letters I receive don’t get forwarded because there simply isn’t enough information to forward. Your cover letter doesn’t have to be an essay. Concise and straight to the point is often much appreciated. However, there are a few details you’d be crazy not mention.

If you are able to deliver a well-rounded picture of yourself in a few short paragraphs, your letter gets a much higher chance of being forwarded to the employer. If it turns out that you’re not the best fit for this particular job, the information you provide will still be stored for future opportunities. Think of your cover letter as an investment. If it’s well done, it will get you a good return in the future.

The 6 check marks

What is the bare minimum you need to include in a cover letter? Let’s pretend you are Sandra, writing to me, (El) about a job opportunity.

Here’s your check list:

򪪪 1. Name who you are writing to.
򪪪 2. What do you want?
򪪪 3. Who are you?
򪪪 4. Why you?
򪪪 5. How do I reach you?
򪪪 6. Sign your name.

Let’s start writing!

1. Name

If there’s a name to write to, use it.

Before applying for a job, read the job post. The job post will often tell you who to address your letter to. By ignoring such a simple piece of information you’re telling me, you couldn’t be bothered reading my post thoroughly. Alarm rings! If you don’t care about the project’s needs, you’re probably not going to fulfill them either.

I get emails from designers who misspell my name, or leave it out all together. My name has TWO letters in it, how do you mess that up? Although this could be a shallow assumption, my first thought it that you might not care so much about this job. If you haven’t re-read your cover letter at least 3 times, you aren’t very dedicated to this job.

eg: Hi El,

☑ 1. Oh hi! You are showing me respect, I will respect you back by paying attention to you now.

2. What?

QUICK! WHAT do you want from me?

Are you offering me a job? Are you selling something? Are you my great aunt’s long lost sister that wants to know what happened to my step-brother’s cat, Whiskers? Don’t keep me guessing! What do you want from me?!

People get their inboxes filled with mail daily. Get to the point quickly. In one sentence tell me: what do you want from me.

eg: I am writing to inquire about a possible job opportunity at Fantastic-Amazing-Company.

☑ 2 .Great! You are writing about something I am interested in. I’ll keep reading your letter.

3. Who?

Who are you? PROVE IT!

Now that I know what you want from me. Tell me about yourself. What’s your name? What do you do? Show me what you’re talking about.

eg: My name is Sandra. I graduated from Cool-School with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Some of my most recent work includes social media graphics I designed and animated for Super-Film while working at A-Company, http://www.[linktoyourwork].com

☑ 3. Nice to meet you. I am starting to have a better picture of you and the type of work experience you’ve had. Looks like you might have the skills I am looking for. I’m going to keep reading.

4. Why?

Why you? What’s so special about you?

After everything you’ve told me about yourself, why are you a good fit for this job? Is it because you’ve already worked on a similar project? Is is because you are passionate about the topic? Is it because your style matches what I am looking for? What can you offer to the project?

eg: I worked at an interactive design company for over a year. I have strong design and motion graphics skills. I am also fluent in HTML, CSS and Javascript. I think my knowledge of interactive design would be a great asset to your project.

☑ 4. Very good, looks like you do have the skills and dedication to this particular field I am focusing on. I would love to continue this conversation with you.

5. How?

I want to learn more about you, how do I reach you?

I am intrigued by your cover letter. How do I learn more about you? Send me your website, email, phone number. This is where you get to choose how I see you. Point me to what best represents your work.

The internet is making it so easy to have all your work in one organized place. You have Behance, Cargo Collective, WordPress and a sea of other portfolio friendly websites. Pre-made templates are often free and easy to use so, you really have no excuse not to post your work up!

*remember, just because you don’t get this job, doesn’t mean I won’t keep you in mind for the next so, show me what you got!*

eg: My portfolio can be found at sandra-fab-work.com. I can be reached by email at sandra@fabwork.com

☑ 5. I have your website, and I know what method of communication you prefer. I now have easy access to your contact info and can easily reach you in the future.

6. Sign your name

What’s your name?

Don’t leave without telling me your name. I don’t want to spend time going through your links trying to figure out if you prefer Sandee, Sandi, Sandie, Sandy or, are you actually an Alexandra???

eg: Sandra

☑ 6. Thank you! I now know how to address you in my reply.

BOOM. DONE.

We have a cover letter!

Here’s your compact bare minimum cover letter.

(1) Hi El,

(2) I am writing to inquire about a possible job opportunity at Fantastic-Amazing-Company.

(3) My name is Sandra. I graduated from Cool-School with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Some of my most recent work includes social media graphics I designed and animated for Super-Film while working at A-Company, http://www.[linktoyourwork].com

(4) I worked at an interactive design company for over a year. I have strong design and motion graphics skills. I am also fluent in HTML, CSS and Javascript. I think my knowledge of interactive design would be a great asset to your project.

(5) My portfolio can be found at sandra-fab-work.com. I can be reached by email at sandra@fabwork.com

Best,

(6) Sandra


Now it’s up to you to add your personal bells and whistles — or, balloons or, dragons or, explosions or, an extremely boring monotonous tone, whatever screams “You”. It’s always a plus to add a little more personality and detail. Has your work been displayed somewhere? Have you won awards? Do you have an interesting hobby? Do you know another language?

You want your cover letter to leave a good and strong enough impression so, that the employer/recruiter will save your information for upcoming gigs. When you write a cover letter you are not just applying for that specific job, you are applying for a spot on a list for future considerations too.

Nonetheless, if you are writing your 12th cover letter today and you are all out of personality, by including the bare minimum you are giving yourself the fair chance of being acknowledged.

Good luck on seizing your opportunities!

* Don’t forget to read the job posts thoroughly. Employers may ask for specific information which overwrites anything written above.*

My interview on VentureApp

ventureapp

I had my first experience using VentureApp today.

It was fun, but I’m not going to lie, it was also terrifying! It’s really weird to type in front of a live audience. I was constantly worried about misreading the questions, writing with typos, taking too long to answer! Phew!

The interviewer was Hannah Kowalczyk-Harper, author of “How to be Influential: Easy Actions to Increase Persuasion”. Hannah did a great job at making me feel at ease. She kept the conversation going and kept questions interesting.

Although the discussion was supposed to open to questions, I think I did take too long to type my answers, because the interview ran way over the 30 minute mark! Nonetheless, if you are still interested in catching up, you can still read the interview on VentureApp https://va.chat/11kvw

Don’t forget to leave a clap if you enjoy the chat! 😃

 


Below is an abridged version of the interview. For the complete conversation visit the original Venture App discussion here: https://va.chat/11kvw


Hannah: Did you always know you would be in motion graphics? When you were a child, what did you think you’d end up being?

El: As a kid, I was all over the place. I wanted to be a lawyer, a doctor, a painter, a psychologist. As long as the profession included a brief case with papers and tools, I wanted it. I had no idea about motion graphics.

Hannah: So how did you end up getting involved in motion graphics?

El: I discovered motion at school. I was studying graphic design and ended up taking classes outside my major. I liked a bit of everything and was having a hard time focusing. When I realized that there was a profession where you can literally use everything from image to video to music, I was sold. Motion Graphics was for me.

Hannah: Would you consider yourself a creative person?

El: I would hope so! I am a designer after all. Then again, creativity has nothing to do with art. It’s more about problem solving, and coming up with alternate solutions regardless strict limitations.

Hannah: Do you think creativity is a requirement for your field?

El: Absolutely. It’s too competitive for someone who is not willing to be creative.

Hannah: In your opinion, can creativity be learned?

El: Yes. Although some of us might be innately more creative than others, creativity is definitely a skill that can be learned and developed. It’s a style of thought, and I think it’s something we never stop learning to do better.


Dallas: How have your travels affected your work El?

El: I think travel is a big part of my work. Traveling energizes me. It gives me a fresh perspective on life every time I return to my computer. It keeps my mood and health up, which contributes to productivity and high quality work.


Hannah: When you moved to LA, was that for work?

El: I first moved here for school. I was accepted to Art Center College of Design, from which I graduated in 2011.

Taking a photo with Nik Hafermaas while picking up my diploma at the ACCD Spring graduation 2011

Hannah: Do you think living in certain locations gives you an advantage when working in the field of motion graphics?

El: Yes. For sure. LA would be a good example. LA is the Mecca of motion graphics. Some of the greatest studios in the world are here. If you are looking to network and want to put your hands on some high end projects, this is the city to be in. However, with the increase of globalization, remote work opportunities and rapid technology improvement, it is becoming easier to work from all over the world.


Hannah: Only a small percentage of the motion graphics field is female. Why do you think your field is so male-dominated?

El: I think the male animator is a stereotype because of which many women aren’t interested in participating in fields like motion graphics. It sort of sounds like a dude’s club … which can have negative connotations in a women’s mind. Will they try to cut my pay? Are they going to give me the less interesting projects? Will I be taken seriously?

Luckily I think that today things are changing. The animation world has expanded and fields like motion graphics are slowly becoming more enticing for everyone. Women are encouraged to join a wider range of professional fields and are becoming more interested in participating in Motion graphics. As participation numbers grow, so will the respect for one another. We are learning to put our guards down and work together.

Hannah: What is it like working as a woman in this field?

El: It’s fun! Sometimes a little frustrating, at times a little disappointing. Overall however, I think it’s becoming better every day. Our society is slowly but surely moving towards a more inclusive atmosphere. We are starting to see inequality slowly shrink even in male dominated fields such as motion graphics. We still have ways to go, but the more women participate, the the faster we will be closing the gender gap we are still facing today.

Hannah: Have you encountered any particular struggles you think you wouldn’t have in your work life if you were male?

El: Definitely. Most of the struggles I experienced didn’t arise form malice, but from ignorance. Some people are not used to seeing women in my position.
The surprise of the unknown often causes uneasiness. I feel like I always need to work twice as hard to prove my value and I need to speak with twice the confidence to be listened to.


Hannah: What steps did you have to take to become a motion designer?

El: There are a million steps to any profession. In my case, once I discovered my interest in motion, I ended up interning at production company in Culver City called The Famous Group. I really enjoyed working there, and was a surrounded by an environment that was eager to teach me to do better. That internship gave me confidence to venture out into the entertainment industry as a freelance Motion Graphics artist.


Hannah: What is one of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

El: I have quite a few projects that I think about a lot. One project that was particularly fun was an animation for an Amazon sponsored Reddit AMA.
I had less than a week to design and animate a fun quirky animation about flight attendants. I was pulling two jobs at once which made things extra hard. There’s something fun about rush projects. You need to figure out how to make something good even if you don’t have the time to do so. It’s like solving a puzzle. I am a huge fan of Reddit, so this was one of those projects that I was passionate about. When you admire the client you’re working with, your work inevitably comes out better.

u/FlightAttendency: Reddit Ask Me Anything

Hannah: Who are some interesting people you’ve worked with in the entertainment industry?

El: I work with fascinating people every day. Clients, producers, actors, fellow designers. Every person that contributes to the creative world has something to give. You can learn from your boss just like you can learn from your intern. I think the entertainment industry brings together people that are thirsty for challenge and eager to brighten the world with their energy. It’s an incredible group of people. I’m glad I found it.

Hannah: What advice would you give somebody interested in joining the field of motion graphics?

El: Don’t get stuck in the computer. You are the one inputing information into the computer, not vice versa. Your work will flourish if you give yourself a chance to absorb the world around you. Go out, sit at a park, go hiking, watch a concert, pet a dog, and most importantly talk to other people. You are designing for the world around you, so get to know it.

Hannah: I read in one of your blog posts that your New Year’s resolution is to concentrate on your work/life balance and “being more conscientious of my time, and learning to be more productive by adapting a more fulfilling lifestyle.” Could you tell us a bit more about that?

El: I went on a 2 week trip to Scotland. When I got back, everyone seemed so stressed and angry. Friends and colleagues all seemed to be on edge. It made me realize what state of mind I must have been in before taking that break. When I was back at work I was full of positive energy and I was working twice as fast effortlessly

I had the same situation happen when I went on another trip a few months later. Only this time, those who went on the trip with me experienced the same surprise when they got back to LA. This made me realize that It wasn’t just me. It’s how humans are. Being happy and relaxed results in higher quality work. The more you work on yourself, the more you can give back to the world around you.

Hannah: Do you think your field is one particularly easy to get overworked in?

El: Yes. The entertainment industry is brutal. Unless you push back, it swallows you whole. Companies have no problem “saving money” by throwing staggering work amounts on a single person. Until you choose to live your own life, you will be asked to pull long nights, skip lunches and accept lower wages. It’s harsh and it took me a few years to understand how to respect my time and health


Hannah: What’s coming up for you in the future? Any interesting new projects or travels on the horizon?

El: Travels are always on the horizon! Although I haven’t quite figured out what my next destination will be just yet.

I’ve been taking notes on my professional experiences throughout the years. I think I’ll start writing a little more about what I learned in my career so far. I’ve been lucky to have met really wonderful people in the entertainment industry. I received support and priceless lessons along the way. I’d like to give back through teaching and telling stories about my own professional experiences.

Hannah: Ok, last question for today… How do we keep track of you? Website? Twitter?

El: I have a website at el-ogorodova.com and i TRY to use twitter when I remember to @e1ena29


Hannah: Thanks so much for chatting with me today, El!

El: Thank YOU for having me Hannah!

5 things you should start thinking about NOW if you are graduating in 2018.

If you are a designer graduating in 2018, there’s a few things you should be already thinking about. Read my latest contributing article to Prototypr.
Originally Posted on Medium:


It’s officially the second week of 2018. The holidays are over and reality is starting to kick in. You might be thinking, “I am graduating this year. Am I ready? Will I have work?”. It’s not too early to start thinking about your first industry job out of school. Take advantage of these upcoming months to prepare yourself for the day after your graduation.

Here are 5 things you should be thinking about in the upcoming months.

1. ROCK THE JUNIOR DESIGNER CARD

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/boy-child-clouds-kid-346796/

Being a junior designer is a precious opportunity. If you play your cards right, you can make some of your biggest steps towards becoming a successful player in your field of work.

Production companies and design studios are busy and deal with a lot of stress. Having someone young on board who is full of energy and eager to learn is a great addition to the hectic environment in the office. Embrace your title as a junior designer and proudly show your excitement about joining the industry. Chances are your enthusiasm will be thanked. Letting your coworkers know your interest in learning will make them more inclined to giving you a helping hand.

A positive attitude and a thirst for learning will encourage companies to keep you on their team longer. Longer contracts means more income, a reliable reputation and more work for your growing portfolio.

Spend these upcoming months working on your image. You’re new, fresh, and ready to join the big boys and girls. Market your junior designer powers.

2. DON’T BE GREEDY

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Don’t ask for senior rates no matter how much your education cost. No matter your grades and school reputation, you are still new to the industry. You need to accumulate years of experience to really put theory to practice.

Don’t let greed limit you from great opportunities. Dealing with someone arrogant who asks for senior treatment but makes rookie mistakes is frustrating for a company. You run the chance of experiencing shorter contracts, loss of clients and a negative reputation.

Do your research and know the standard rates for junior designers in your geographical area. Use your temporary lower rate to cover for your beginner mistakes and buy yourself time to improve. Being honest when it comes to your ability will provide you with appropriate opportunities which will improve your skills as you move forward.

Spend the next few months getting to know your market and figuring out where you fit in. You don’t want to be underpaid but, you also don’t want to over promise. Your pay and reputation are in your hands so, do your research.

3. TAKE THAT INTERNSHIP

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

A lot of students frown upon the idea of taking another internship after graduation. Internships are great. They are like a school extension, except this time you’re getting paid to learn. Unlike a junior designer, an intern’s mistakes are forgiven, and staff will spend more time in helping you achieve success. It’s in the company’s own interest to shape you into a great designer. Internships often turn into staff positions, or long term freelance connections. An internship gives the company a chance to familiarize themselves with your work and personality at a low risk price, and invest time into you for a long-term growing professional relationship.

As you’re starting to scout for possible job opportunities after graduation, include internship opportunities in your list, they can take you further than you might think.

4. LIVE A LITTLE!

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Don’t forget to live! When sitting at an interview and asked about what you’ve done in your life so far, you better have something more interesting than just school. Companies are looking for more than just technically savvy robots. Your personality and experience can make a significant difference in an office. What makes you different from the other hundreds of students that took the same coarse and got the same grade as you?

Go outside, have fun on weekends, and meet people outside the industry. You will be designing for the rest of the world, so get to know it.

5. YOUR BEST IS THE MOST YOU CAN DO

Photo by Anthony Ginsbrook on Unsplash

Don’t tear your hair out over a project. It’s never worth it. Always do your best, it’s what you are hired to do. If your best is not enough, there is nothing you can do. Accept the defeat and absorb the lesson for next time. There is always a next time.

Pixabay Source: pixabay.com

Enjoy these upcoming months. This is an exciting time in your life which should be remembered with pride and joy. Think about the future, but don’t over think it. The future will be there for you whether you worry about it or not. Happy upcoming graduation.


From a Motion Designer to Design students: “Consider these 3 points”

I had the great pleasure of speaking to Carla Barr’s Type 4 class at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena this past Thursday.

The presentation included a little “Show & Tell” along with some insight about the Motion Design world from a Freelance Motion Artist’s point of view.

Read the full article on Medium.com 

From a Motion Designer to Design students: “Consider these 3 points”

A Message to students : Your hard work counts and will make a difference in your career.

A personal story about how a student project launched me into becoming the designer I am today. Read the whole story on Medium

A Message to students : Your hard work counts and will make a difference in your career.