How an E.P.I.C. Cover Letter Lands You More Interviews
Does your cover letter even get read any more? Is that what you’re thinking? If so, you’re not alone. I’m happy to tell you that yes, they do get read and they matter. According to Jobvite's 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, 37 percent of recruiters say cover letters matter.
In a survey by my colleague Thomas Powner at Career Thinker Inc. 49 percent of recruiters stated they read the cover letter after the resume and 53 percent said it did impact their decision on requesting a phone interview. Best of all, 59 percent said a great cover letter can boost a marginal resume.
When you write an E.P.I.C. cover letter — Employer-focused, Promotional, Interesting and includes a Call to Action — your phone will be ringing with calls for interviews. Let’s do a deep dive into each of these components.
In job search it’s not what the employer can do for you, but what you can do for the employer. The first step in writing an E.P.I.C. cover letter is to capture the reader’s attention by focusing on them.
One way to do this is to write an introduction that focuses on the employer’s needs.
Take the reader to their ideal world
Imagine if you could have a Director of Marketing on your team who brings integrated marketing campaigns to life and knows how to leverage various media platforms to obtain the best results. What if that person also understands how to use data to make strategic decisions and create actionable marketing plans? Now take a look at the enclosed resume to see that person is applying for the Director of Marketing position at Acme Technology.
Show your shared vision or mission
Like Acme’s unrelenting focus on client service, I take a tenacious approach in leading companies through turnaround and growth strategies during periods of both declining revenues and rapid growth. Now, I would like to play a critical role in ensuring Acme’s values and culture are maintained during your next period of growth as Wealth Management Chief Administrative Officer.
You've probably heard advice like this before, but it’s really important to customize your letter for each organization you apply to. I am not just talking about swapping out a name of an organization. If the job posting asks certain questions, be sure you answer them in your letter. If there are specific attributes listed, demonstrate how you have those attributes.
Look at this snippet from a job description at Aha! for a Sr. Digital Marketing Manager: Has a “get it done” attitude and a background of delivering superb work again and again.
Here is how a letter could be customized for this description: When I was a Digital Marketing Manager at Acme, I was constantly assigned special projects. This was because my director knew she could count on me to problem solve and get things done.
Another avenue for customizing your letter is to state why you want to work for the company. Don't be afraid to say how you've been a customer and your experience inspired you to apply. Think about companies with strong brands like Trader Joes or Apple. You better make sure your letter talks about how you look good in Hawaiian shirts or crave innovation if you’re applying to either of these companies.
Depending how badly you want to work for a certain organization, the more effort you put into your whole application, the better. Take a look at what Nina Mufleh did to land an interview at Airbnb.
Besides being focused on your potential employer, it’s important to show why you’re a great fit for the position. This is where being promotional comes in.
Hone in on the pains your potential employer has and show how you, uniquely, can fix them. Write about what you're known for or even what you're most passionate about.
Add something that is not in your resume. Remember your cover letter should complement your resume, not repeat it.
So for example, it may be calling out the common thread to your career, like this: In today’s noisy world of social media on top of digital and traditional marketing methods a Creative Director is faced with a multitude of options to gain attention. My success lies in my ability to quickly assess what message on which platforms will resonate best with your audience.
Or you can even go a more direct route and call out their specific requirements and show how you meet them.
|Your Requirements||My Qualifications|
|· Experience in marketing to IT customers is required.||· While at Acme Software, Directors of IT were our largest segment of buyers. I strategized multiple integrated marketing campaigns for this group, earning an average of 5.8 ROI.|
|· Experience with advising direct reports on how to meet schedules and resolve technical problems.||· As Marketing Manager for ABC Corp. I improved workflow efficiencies 15% by implementing new project management processes for my team.|
|· Experience sourcing and managing external marketing agencies required.||· I saved $20K for Acme Software by outsourcing to multiple agencies that were a best fit for the project instead of using just one agency.|
No matter how you choose to promote your achievements, just make sure you are always showing the value you bring to a potential employer.
Remember that it’s not just a computer reading your cover letter. At some point, a human will be reading it. So for that reason, it’s important to show some personality and make your cover letter interesting. This letter paints a good picture in your mind about the candidate:
When I respond to negative comments on social media, it's like using my keyboard to diffuse a bomb. I artfully craft my response in order for my organization to help turn a detractor into a promoter. This is just one way I have been successful managing social media and would now like to bring those skills to Harley-Davidson in the role of social media manager.
You may want to share why you're applying for this particular position and how you plan to make a difference for the organization. For example: With my most recent consultant work, I realized I miss the comradery and dynamics of working for a corporation. As such, I am exploring new opportunities to contribute to a corporate sales strategy and build relationships from the inside, out.
Call to Action
Your cover letter is essentially a direct marketing campaign, and no campaign would be complete without a call to action at the end. You want to elicit a response from your target employer.
Most cover letters end with something like, "Thank you for your consideration and hopefully we'll have the opportunity to discuss potential career opportunities." You never want to be "hopeful" at the end of your cover letter. You're just handing the power right over to the recruiter or hiring manager who will inevitably say no thank you.
Instead restate the value you bring to the employer and then ask for the interview. So now you have something that sounds like, "I am confident that I can tell your organization's story in a compelling way to drive more website traffic, qualified leads, positive patient satisfaction and most importantly, revenue. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss your needs and other ways I can help."
Or you can even be more direct in your concluding paragraph: I look forward to speaking with you on the possibility of my joining XYZ Corp. With that goal in mind, I will follow up with a phone call early next week to schedule a convenient time to meet.
Putting It All Together, Succinctly
In today’s modern job search, you’ll often being sending cover letters via email, or what is commonly called an e-note. Here is an E.P.I.C. example that puts it all together, in just 103 words.
Subject line: Job ID 234106 – Business Development Executive with foresight to anticipate market needs
Dear Mr. Donato:
It is unusual to find a business development professional who has the technical know-how to reinvent market strategies and create new revenue streams. Yet that is what I’ve done time and again throughout my career.
At Blackberry, it was seeing how pivoting the distribution strategy could speed up growth. At Motorola, it was collaborating to design a new product that could penetrate the MSO market.
My strategies have amounted to millions of dollars in revenue for my employers.
I would welcome the opportunity to interview for the position of VP Business Development and discuss how I can create new revenue streams for Donlen.
So, I challenge you to write an E.P.I.C. cover letter. I’d love to hear about a time when you’ve either written or read a great cover letter that made a difference. Please share in the comments below.
The toughest marketing challenge of all is marketing you, and the purpose of this blog is to help marketing superstars, like you, conquer that challenge and excel in your career.
Passionate about direct marketing and helping people find jobs, Michelle Robin has translated her extensive B-to-B marketing background into a career focused on her true love: creating powerful career marketing documents that lead to interviews at her clients’ target organizations. As Chief Career Brand Officer at Brand Your Career, she works with executive-level sales and marketing professionals across the U.S., and helps them discover their personal brand and fast track their job search.
An award-winning and dual-certified resume writer (NCRW and PARW), Michelle’s work has been published in the book, Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed...Get Hired.
Need help discovering your personal brand? Download Michelle’s free Personal Branding Workbook. Just launching your job search? Get 26 action-packed tips to accelerate your marketing job search. You can also connect with Michelle on Twitter, LinkedIn, or email.