Getting Hired at meltmedia: The Cover Letter

NOTE: This is part 1 of a more-than-one-part “series” on getting a job at meltmedia.

If you haven’t noticed, we’re having an incredible year and we’re growing. We recently had 10 positions posted, many of them for brand new roles at the company. This means we’ve been spending a lot of time sifting through résumés and cover letters. And hiring is hard.

I realized a couple weeks ago that hiring doesn’t have to be so hard. I can make it a lot easier for motivated candidates and for our hiring managers (including me) by telling people exactly how to get a job here in this very blog post! Ready? Let’s go!

The Cover Letter

Cover letters are an incredible opportunity to introduce yourself and your interest in the job. Most of the cover letters I see look like this:

Dear Hiring Manager:

My skills and experience are a great fit for this position. I learn quick and am a hard working person who performs well independently as well as working in a team. Please feel free to contact me to schedule an interview. I look forward to learning more about this opportunity.

Thank You!

When I get the time to review applicants, these are the applications that go to the bottom of the pile. Why is that? There is nothing unique or interesting about these kinds of letters. They can be reused over and over, are completely generic, and make me feel like the applicant sees my job as just another one on the big, open market.

Worse, sometimes I call these people (sometimes the day after they apply!) and say, “Hi, this is Anthony from meltmedia calling about your application for our position.” And they say, “I’m sorry, which company are you with? I don’t really remember.”

Furthermore, this is an incredibly boring cover letter. Here’s a sentence-by-sentence response to that letter:

Your skills and experience ought to be a great fit for this position. You need to learn quickly and work hard independently or in a team in order to succeed in this position. Of course I will contact you to schedule an interview. And, finally, if you’re as excited for the job as I am to hire a great person, I can only hope you look forward to learning more about the opportunity.

Here’s what we want to see from our applicants:

Dear Hiring Manager:

meltmedia looks like a fun and great place to work. I am an unusual applicant. Not only do I love to code and build awesome web applications, I am also passionate about design and communication. I’m the interactive superhero you’re looking for: the almost-mild-mannered programmer with awesome communication skills! I even teach communication in my off hours! Talk about a secret identity.

Speaking of superheroes and secret identities, I even wrote a book about them! Serious, it’s on Amazon.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about myself, my experience, life, the universe, and everything. I’d also love to ask you more about meltmedia and its goals. Your website is a lot of fun and I’d love to see how you are changing the industry.

I hope to hear from you soon!

What’s cool about this letter? It correctly references us by name (not “Melt Media” nor “Meltmedia”), gives me a reason to read on (“I’m unusual”), has a casual, lighthearted attitude, and demonstrates personality.

We’re not robots. We’re a small company of ~70 people.

A real human will be reading these letters, not some sort of keyword-searching algorithm robot thing. We like meeting real humans. We like interviewing real humans. Why, as an applicant, make yourself sound like you’re a robot? If I call you and our conversation has the same tone as the overly-business cover letter, I’ll not only be surprised, but I’ll probably tell you that the job may not be a good fit.

A friend of mine criticized me on Facebook to the effect of: “Here at meltmedia, we’re not interested in hiring Java people for our Java software developer position.” And I had to agree! Java is a skill that’s important for the job, but it’s the most basic thing we look for in an application for a Java position. I’d rather let the applicant’s code speak for itself while she/he represents him/herself as a human being I’d like to work with via written communication.

One way we screen for humanity is putting jokes into our job descriptions. One of my favorites is: Remember: The secret word is, “limburger.” I know someone has a sense of humor and actually reads our descriptions when I see the word “limburger” in the cover letter.

Wrapping It Up

If you’re applying for a position at meltmedia, I hope this is helpful. If you’re a motivated applicant, I hope you read this and it influences your cover letter. If you’ve already applied and want to give it a second shot, feel free! Just start off your cover letter by telling us you’re trying again!

And if you’re looking to work for a company like us, keep yer eye on our careers page.

Author of “Clueless at The Work” and founder of Make Weird Music. I write about management, music, and technology. Mesa, AZ, USA.

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