How to write a Cover Letter which stands out?
What is a Marketing Letter?
Marketing letters are designed to let a company know who you are. You are not applying for a job, you are simply “marketing” yourself. It is a one-page document that is sent to the hiring manager or decision maker (sometimes they are one and the same).
The letter should catch your eye right away and demonstrate your value and your confidence.
Why They Work
A marketing letter provides you with a strategy for finding work. It puts you in control of the process, because it is you that is reaching a potential employer. You are not competing with hundreds of applicants, rather, you are putting your name forward for jobs that may not have been advertised as yet. Your credentials may be such that they don’t wish to miss an opportunity of hiring you, so they may create a position that was not there before your letter. Your marketing letter also displays your value.
The Power of Words
Words can be very powerful. You need to find those words that will cause the person reading your marketing letter to sit up and take notice. Suppose you are a Human Resources Manager and you are looking for a Director of Human Resources position. You may wish to start your marketing letter with something like:
“I developed a recruitment strategy including an advertising campaign and setting up recruiting centres nationally, that resulted in meeting our mandate of hiring 185 supervisors in two months.”
“Developed and delivered a workshop for 30 Executive Directors for evaluating their programs.”
“Conducted a root cause analysis resulting in a decrease of refunds by 80%.”
“Developed an evaluation workshop to identify potential blue-collar employees for promotion, resulting in a 40% success rate with many promoted to managerial positions within 2 years.
Short succinct sentences are needed with enough information to want them to keep reading.
Do some important work before sending your marketing letter. You should do some research on the companies you would like to target. This means what type of industry, e.g. retail, manufacturing, service etc. Once you have established where you want to work, you will need to know more about the company. Find out what their reputation is, what attracted you to these companies, and make sure that your intel is correct. Find out who the executives of the company are and make sure that they you are not referring to an antiquated executive list. Look on LinkedIn to see if you have some connection to the company’s personnel.
You should make your pitch to the people in the ‘C’ suite. That is to say, the CEO, CFO, COO, to make sure you are reaching the right person. If you are looking for a Human Resources position, you may wish to reach the VP of Human Resources.
Getting this letter to where it needs to be will not be easy. You may have to do for or five drafts before you are satisfied with it. Remember, it is not “good enough”. If you look at it and say, “It is good enough” then you need to redo the letter. When you can say, “That’s perfect” then you are there. Imagine you picking up someone else’s letter and reading it. Would you want to see this individual?
The decision maker you are sending this too should be electrified by your letter. If you’re not, why would the reader be? To start with, use the STAR system to help you organize your thoughts. The Situation should outline the context of what you are saying. For instance, if you are trying to explain a problem you have solved, the situation might be that a machine was producing product that was out of specification. The Tasks involved would explain what procedures you used in order to analyze the root cause. The Action can explain what steps you took to fix the problem. Your Result would be what the outcome of those actions are.
You should be able to articulate this in a powerful sentence or two.
The format should be as any other business Letter:
Your Address (optional)
Contact information such as Telephone, email etc.
Title (e.g., Doctor, Mr., Ms. Etc), First and Last name (letters if any)
Position: e.g., Vice President Operations
Dear (Title, First Name, Last Name, add letters if any (e.g. P. Eng):
As mentioned previously, the opening has to grab your attention. Here are a couple of examples:
“Like you, I am interested in increasing productivity and profit through hiring the right people.”
“As Controller of a manufacturing company achieving $25 million in sales, I discovered neglected inventory which I sold for $240,000 and realized a profit of $30,000 instead of assuming a loss of $60,000”
Connecting the Dots
It is important that the person reading this understands why you are writing this letter. It has to be relevant to what you are trying to get at. For instance:
“If your company needs a Vice President of Human Resources that can obtain the right people to fulfill the strategic plan, you may be interested in some of my accomplishments.”
“If your company needs a sales executive. you may be interested in what I have done.”
Don’t use more than 3-4 sentences on your accomplishments. You want to be able to pick one or two accomplishments that would give the reader the idea that you can achieve these results for them as well.
Use one accomplishment per paragraph and no more that 3-4 lines per paragraph. Don’t use more that 10-12 words per paragraph. It is important here to be very succinct. You may need to edit this area three to four times before you can articulate everything you want to say in 30 to 40 words.
“Implemented a plant-wide continuous improvement process that resulted in $350,000 in savings.”
“Improved an existing product and garnered new customers totaling $250 million in extra sales.”
“Improved union/management relationships resulting in grievance reduction of 40%.”
The closing should be a little about your background and your level of education.
“I am a graduate of Human Resources from Mohawk College of Applied Technology with an under graduate in Labour Relations from McMaster University and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Western University.”
I would be glad to discuss further details of my business experience in a personal meeting. You may reach me at xxx-xxx-xxxx