Why do most of the Fortune 500 companies hire marketing firms, public relations firms, copy writers, and advertising agencies? Because they understand that professional marketers and copy writers know the advertising and marketing game. Successful advertising copy is writing that sells. Selling is not always about getting someone to buy. Selling can be any action the advertisement directs the reader to take. In the case of resume cover letters, selling is about getting employers to contact you for an interview.
Job hunting is about marketing and your first tool is your cover letters. By using some of the tried and true tactics of professional marketers and copy writers your cover letters can sell you. There is only one measure of success for job cover letters and that is landing job interviews. If you are getting job interviews your cover letters are doing their job. There are other factors that can determine the success of your cover letters such as:
- Your resume is poorly written or inadequate
- You are applying for jobs that are not a match for your skills.
- You are prospecting; sending resumes to employers who are not presently hiring.
Businesses have taken decades and spent billions of dollars to learn what they know about marketing. For what this information is worth, you would think all this data and knowledge would be locked up tight in a bank vault. It is not. Without spending a dime you can get what businesses have spent billions to discover; how to market.
Here is what we know from studying marketing:
- You must get your prospects’ attention.
- You must connect the dots: get your prospect interested in you and make them want what you have to offer.
You need to get the attention from your target so they will watch, listen, or read your message. For television this is air time. Strategic air time can cost millions of dollars per minute. For the web this is all about getting traffic. Companies are spending billions of advertising dollars to get this attention. For you, the job hunter, this one is being handed to you on a silver platter. Your targets, employers, are reading your cover letter so you have their attention (for a moment.)
Connecting the Dots in Your Cover Letters
Creating interest and making employers want you are all about copy writing and what you have to offer. Frequently when job candidates attempt copy writing, they simply list their most relevant skills. Sometimes they mention special awards, recognitions, recent publications, or other such accomplishments believing that the employer will see how great they are.
Your cover letters have a lot of work to do. Besides informing potential employers about what skills you have, you must create a picture for them. Just listing your skills alone is not selling. Great copy writing connects the dots. You want to connect your skills and accomplishments with what the employer is looking for, to make a connection with them.
In Order to Make a Connection; Start Connecting
First connect your past with their future. For example, if an employer’s job posting for an accountant states: Experience with clients desired, and you have such experience, write a line or two that tells how you maintained a 100% client retention rate by taking the time to personally explain statements to clients at your last position. Your story needs to create a picture of what you have done in a way the employer can imagine you doing the same for them. Your connect stories must get an employer interested in you and make them want to know more. Your stories need to connect and be short and sweet, and ideally just a few sentences.
Now connect yourself with the employer. Read the employer job posting or job description. Imagine the job. Create a picture in your mind of already working for the employer and your daily activities. Think about the company, their mission statement, and what you know about them. Envision how you will apply what you know about the employer’s goals to your daily tasks. Now put this into words and create a statement. I call this the cover letter objective statement and mirroring mission statements. This statement can often end or close the cover letter.
For instance if you are a graphic artist applying for a position with the Walt Disney company:
The Walt Disney Company Mission Statement
The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.
Use the Walt Disney mission statement to create a cover letter objective statement:
I am looking forward to meeting with you and the possibility of applying my creative graphic skills to further the development of innovative and unique entertainment experiences for the world’s leading provider.
Connecting in this way can become irresistible to an employer. However do not overdo this by using too many words from the employer’s mission statement or copying word for word. You want your cover letter statement to connect but in a natural sounding way.