Marketing Cover Letters That Kick Butt and Take Names
Marketer, market thyself! View your cover letter as the one opportunity to sell yourself to a potential employer. Many consultants and bankers will tell you that cover letters don't matter -- but in marketing, they mean a lot! If you don't exhibit proper grammar or spelling, your resume will be thrown away. If your letter is too long or unclear, you don't have a chance. Plan on spending many hours on your basic cover letter. Tailoring the letter to specific firms should be easy once you've created the shell. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Make sure you have the right contact person and spell their name correctly. If a recruiter's name is Pat, make sure you find out whether Pat is male or female.
- Send a letter to everyone you meet. Although there may be an official contact person, it never hurts to send cover letters to everyone you've met during the recruiting process. If you met an employee during a career fair or a company briefing, make sure to send them a cover letter and mention how much you enjoyed meeting them at so-and-so event on so-and-so date. You should also mention that you met these people to the official recruiter that is accepting cover letters.
- Clearly state how your background positions you to succeed in the job you are applying for. Don't be embarrassed to sell yourself. You don't want your cover letter to convey that you conquered the world in just a few short years but you do want the recruiter to realize that you are a "star."
- If you are making a major career change, explain why that experience helped build your skills, and why you now want to make a change. If you are having a difficult time explaining how an investment banking background will make you wildly proficient at marketing Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, spend some time explaining what skills you got from banking, but also focus on what that particular job lacked (and what marketing has).
- Demonstrate why you and the firm are a good fit. For instance a sentence like, "Given Quaker's strengths in ___, ____, and _____ and my passion for ___ and ____, I think we'd be a good match."
- The cover letter is a supplement to your resume, so don't be redundant. Pick a few themes that seem to develop out of your resume and have your cover letter spell those out. The reader will toss your resume aside if they find themselves reading resume specifics. Tease them with your cover letter -- make them want to flip to the next page.
- Call to follow up within a few days of mailing your letter. Many people fail to do this because they fear they will seem too aggressive. I have never heard anyone say, "I didn't hire that person because they showed too much interest in the position we were offering!" If you can't reach the contact to whom you sent the letter, then try calling other people within the firm who you might have met.