Cover Letter - a Powerful Marketing Tool Neglected by Job Hunters

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


There are many potentially powerful marketing tools being ignored or neglected by job hunters. I mention “cover letter” and most people seem disinterested. Is this you? If so, you obviously misunderstand or misuse this tool.

10 points to help your cover letter deliver more results

Change your mindset – A cover letter is not the poor party in the CV/cover letter marriage. Start giving your cover letter the attention it deserves. Stop thinking solicitor letter and start thinking marketing letter. A cover letter is a business development letter and not a summons to court. Replace “boring” and “rigid” with “creative” and “eye catching”.

Short and sweet – Anything more than three short snappy paragraphs is too long. Resist the temptation to rewrite your CV in paragraphs. Think less words and more focus.

Grab the attention – Subtle differences can help your cover letter stand out. Make an effort to acquire hiring manager names and personalise your introduction “Dear Mr Brown” instead of “Dear Sir”. Start your letter with something like “I was excited to read …” instead of “Please find enclosed a copy of my CV….” Include a line about what attracted you to apply or recent company information to make the reader feel loved. I would go more risky than this – not for everyone though.

Inject more personality – The most experienced and qualified applicant doesn’t always get the job. The means there are other factors that influence hiring decisions - personality fit to the organisation/team, attitude and desire to work for the company. Loose the professional façade and show the real you. Write from the heart and put effort into getting your personality onto the page.

SELL Yourself – You need to get across that you can do the job, that you can excel in the job and that you want to work for the company. Pick 2/3 key requirements from the job description and show how you can deliver. Include this information in the middle paragraph. Use bullet points to highlight.

The power of P.S. – With high volumes of applications the reader may only scan your cover letter. Use P.S. to ensure a key point is read.

Failing to land interviews? Then try these (or similar) strategies!!

Strategy 1 – Don’t attach a CV with your cover letter. Instead offer the URL for your LinkedIn profile. This can help differentiate. I think a hiring manager may give more time to review a LinkedIn profile than they would a CV. A LinkedIn Profile offers more information than a CV.

Strategy 2 – Put all your eggs into your cover letter. Try to impress with your cover letter. Make the hiring manager phone to find out more. Providing a CV allows a hiring manager to sift you out. Forcing the manager to call provides the opportunity to offer more information than an A4 sheet of paper. Another trick is to have a strong cover letter indicating a CV is attached but conveniently forget to enclose.

Strategy 3 - Technology, emails, tweets and texts mean that we rarely see a hand written document. A hand written document is now a novelty and I read them. Could this be true for a cover letter? It could be worth getting out your quill. Ignore this if you write like a four year old.

Strategy 4 – Not for the faint hearted!! Crumple your cover letter into a ball, open it out, fold, and place it into envelope and post. When the hiring manager opens your letter the crumpled nature will stimulate curiosity and ensure it is read. The opening line will read. “Dear Mr Brown, I took the liberty to crumple up this letter to save you some time before you threw it in the bin….”


Paul Mullan is founder of Career Coaching & Outplacement Firm Measurability. Services include Outplacement, CV writing, Interview Coaching, Job Search Strategies & Online/Offline Marketing (AKA Personal Branding)