Applying to an online game writing job? Better make a good first impression! Your cover letter is a brief letter that introduces your to your potential employer. It contains basic information about your experience and interests along with notes about why you're applying to that particular job.
Cover letters should be short, focused, personable, and custom written for every job you apply to. It's tempting to skip this step and just send in a resume, as it does take time to write a good cover letter. Doing so means missing an opportunity to connect with the person who wants to hire you, though, and honestly, who wants that?!
Cover letter structure
Keep it simple, keep it to the point. Publications will review dozens of applicants for each position, and they don't have the time or interest in wading through unrelated stories or personal anecdotes. Just jump right in with the following information:
- Greet the employer
- Introduce yourself
- Tell them which job you're applying to
- Outline your experience in 2-3 sentences
- Mention why you applied to this particular job in 2-3 sentences
- Suggest the next steps
- Thank them for their time
- Sign off with your contact information
Example cover letter
Just a quick example of what your cover letter might look like.
Billy McBillson here, a game writer with three years of experience. I'm applying to the Reviewing & Guide Writing job you recently posted.
I started writing about games four years ago with a personal blog. There, I created daily news posts and wrote reviews for some of my favorite releases (Borderlands, Monster Hunter 4). Shortly after I landed a gig with GameReviewsMegaSite.com where I wrote mobile game guides along with the occasional cheats article.
I really enjoy working on reviews, guides, and walkthroughs, especially in the mobile and console arenas, which I know your team covers extensively. I've followed your content for quite a while and am thrilled at the prospect of becoming a regular contributor!
My resume is attached to this application. I'm happy to provide writing samples, too, if you like, and am always open for interviews at your convenience.
Thanks for your time!
Cover letter dos and don'ts
Finally, a few tips on things you should and should NOT include in your cover letter.
Do follow directions - Did the ad ask for a 150 word writing sample attached in jpg format? You should send a 150 word writing sample attached in jpg format. Not 151 words, and not a png file. Read the ad carefully and follow all of the directions.
Don't focus on negatives - A perfect example of this is the all-too-common "I've never written anything exactly like what you want, but..." Nobody cares about what you can't or haven't done, especially not employers, and including it makes you look inexperienced.
Don't display a lack of confidence - Similar to the above, this is commonly seen in phrases like "I'm not sure I'm the right fit for this position, but..." Hiring managers see this and think 'You're right, you're not a good fit.'
Keep the length just right - As a general rule, your query letter for a freelance journalism job should be around 250 words. A little over is fine, a little under is good, just don't deviate too much. Editors don't have time to read a novel from every applicant, and if you only write a sentence or two, it's obvious you didn't take time to prepare your query.
Don't use if..then statements - You should never query a game review site and say something like "If you're interested in hiring me, just e-mail and I'll tell you about my experience." Why would anyone be interested in hiring someone like that? Send a potential employer the information they need to know how good you are. Wow them with your awesomeness right up front!
Don't just talk about you - In order to sell yourself to the employer, you need to show how familiar you are with their site. Read some of their articles, find out what style they prefer or which games they love/hate. Working these things into your cover letter will go a long way to getting you the job.