Should Your Cover Letter Include an Anecdote or Story?
I had a student write to me and ask me about using a story or personal anecdote in a cover letter. Including something like this is a great way to show off your personality in a cover letter. However, you have to make sure that your story doesn’t distract from the overall purpose of the cover letter – which is to land the internship position. One issue with cover letters is that students tend to make them too long. The employer opens the letter, it looks like a novel, and they immediately close it. They don’t want to get into such a long letter in the middle of their busy day. If you can tell the personal anecdote in 4-5 sentences, I would use it. If you can’t – I would avoid it or think of a story that you can get across in fewer words. Also, make sure that even though you are telling a story – you are maintaining a professional voice. It’s okay to use a more conversational tone when telling the story – but maintain your sense of professionalism and your authoritative tone. For example, if I’m telling a personal anecdote to my best friend, I might be more casual or silly than when I’m explaining the same story to my boss. Just remember, you need to be seen as a professional and you want your personal anecdote to further your case – and your case is that YOU should LAND the job.