Andrew Lamberson doesn’t work for The New York Times Magazine in Brooklyn. And his cover letter didn’t get him a job. So what’s the point here?
Well, Andrew always believed that cover letters were essentially useless—and so he wrote boring cover letter after boring cover letter for jobs that he didn’t get—and wasn’t all that interested in anyway.
Then he saw a posting on Facebook for NYTM, a publication that he loved and read religiously. He decided to get a little crazy—nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? He really wanted the job, and he had to find a way to convince the head photo editor, Kathy Ryan, that he was exactly the right person for their photo division.
Lamberson chose a photo that really spoke to him—an image that photographer Eugene Richards took of Joan Didion. He sent Ryan a letter telling her how the image had affected him, and how Didion’s personality really came through in the photo. He talked about how the photo had turned on its edge everything he’d learned about photography in college and had given him an entirely new perspective. Then he expressed his desire to contribute—and his belief that he could.
Lamberson worked hard on his cover letter—and even had a copy editor look it over. He didn’t worry overly much about his resume, counting on the cover letter to do the work for him. Then, something amazing happened! Within just an hour of receiving Lamberson’s letter and resume, Ryan responded; she invited him to come in for an interview.
If you’re expecting a totally happy ending, you won’t see that here. Lamberson didn’t get the job; because, in the final analysis, he didn’t have enough magazine experience. His cover letter got him an interview, not a job. But here’s the thing—he did get the interview. And when he does have enough experience, you can bet that Ryan will remember him.
Ryan told Lamberson that out of all the applicants for the position (and there were a great many), his cover letter was the best, and she asked him to keep in touch.
So, what have we learned from this? Cover letters matter even if you don’t immediately get the job. Properly done, they DO get you noticed. The job might not happen today, but a stellar cover letter can get you noticed and get you on file. Never give up on your dreams. Dream big. Your dreams might not be realized immediately, but down the road, who knows what could happen? Never assume that a job is out of reach. Give it your best shot, and the job that you don’t get today could very well be yours tomorrow.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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