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How to write a cover letter for a marketing position

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder Writer

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If you're a marketer promoting a product, you'd try to sell the customer on why the product is unique, why it meets a specific need and why it will make a short- and long-term difference in the customer's life.

If you're seeking a marketing position, you should market yourself just like you would a product. While your résumé should include all the details about your experience and successes, you can use your cover letter to sell yourself and hook the hiring manager into reading your résumé.

"In my opinion, cover letters are the 'first impression' for a potential recruit," says Tracey Gould, director of marketing at Baskervill, an architectural, engineering and interior design firm in Richmond, Va. "This is the opportunity where a candidate should wow the potential employer with a summary of who they are and what they are passionate about in terms of marketing, display their successes in terms of qualitative and quantitative results, and demonstrate the value they ... would bring to the particular role and organization for which they are applying."

Here are tips on writing a cover letter for a marketing position:

Treat the employer like your target audience
"Just as when creating marketing materials, when you create your résumé or cover letter, it should be based on a clear focus on the end user's needs, concerns and interests -- in this case, your potential employer," says Linda Pophal, marketing communication consultant at Strategic Communications LLC. "Think of them as your target audience, and consider what they might be looking for in a new employee for this position. What skills are critical both in terms of professional [or] educational experience and interpersonal experience?"

According to Pophal, hiring managers want to know that you'll make them and their department successful and that your performance will help drive the company's success. "Be clear about what it is you will be able to contribute that is valued by the organization."

Include your own marketing materials
If you're in marketing, hiring managers want to see that you're familiar with marketing and social-media tools, and that you use them not only at work but in your personal life, too. In the cover letter's contact information, include links to your online social-media profiles, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Just make sure that you're comfortable with a prospective employer viewing the contents of those pages. If you're not, clean them up before they're included.

If you don't have a personal website, consider creating one and using it to market your achievements. "If you're a marketing person, build a website to market you," says Mike Schultz, president of sales training and consulting company Rain Group and author of "Rainmaking Conversations." "Position the cover letter as a marketing letter or email that directs them to your website. Then, really blow them away with your marketing video, your content, your design skills, your search-engine skills, your results and so on."

Give examples of marketing successes
No matter the position, a cover letter should include key successes that are worth highlighting beyond your résumé. Kyra Mancine, job-search strategist and résumé writer, recommends showcasing one or two examples of how you've proven yourself, as related to the specific job opening. "If the job entails [public relations], add a line about how you 'garnered your company 25 media placements in print, online and television over the past three months' or a similar success story," Mancine says. She also recommends sharing quantifiable successes whenever possible. "You need to show results -- not just vague, flowery language that does not show how you have impacted the bottom line."

Show off your writing skills
A well-written cover letter can make a difference between being passed over and being picked. This is especially true for a marketing position, because you're expected to be good at expressing yourself and articulating a message.

"Writing is a central focus and core skill set of every marketing-related position, and the cover letter is an ideal place where a marketing candidate can shine," Gould says. "Does the cover letter take a different approach than most canned or dry cover letters? Does it use impactful language? Does it want me, as the reader and hiring manager, to want to read more and learn more about this candidate?"

Don't forget about the basics
While it's important to customize the letter for the role and to highlight key examples of success, don't slack on the basics. "It should go without saying to check your spelling and grammar, above and beyond what spell-check will do for you," says Nicole Krug, owner of Social Light, a business-strategy company specializing in brand marketing and social media. Krug also suggests that your cover letter be no longer than one page, so you don't lose the employer's attention. "This goes back to giving an indication of how you will perform in your job, and you need to have the ability to make your message succinct and relevant.

"The bottom line is, you need to realize that your cover letter is a marketing campaign, and you are selling your services," Krug continues. "If you can approach [it] with the understanding that you need to target your audience, create credibility, but also make it creative and unique, you should find success."

Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.



Last Updated: 01/10/2012 - 5:18 PM


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