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I’ve had a number of people ask me for tips on applying for digital marketing jobs following the post on preparing for an interview.
Unfortunately, recalling the mistakes I’ve seen on cover letters was far too easy. Below is a list of the 4 most common mistakes I noticed on candidates’ cover letters when applying to digital marketing roles.
Not personalizing the letter
If you are applying to a digital marketing job and are still addressing your cover letters with “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern,” you may as well stop sending your letter.
I can’t speak for how other business areas feel about this, but for any roles related to digital marketing or social media, this is a big annoyance. Why? Because it shows you didn’t bother looking up who the hiring manager was on LinkedIn.
Admittedly, it may not always be easy to identify who the hiring manager is; in that case, try to find out who the HR person is. If, after doing a thorough search on LinkedIn and Google you still can’t find a name, email the company and ask.
If you really can’t find a name, be sure to mention that in your letter. A generic letter will raise some red flags with the hiring manager – they’ll wonder if you know how to use LinkedIn and Google.
Many people think that they have to apply as soon as the job is posted so they skip on doing the appropriate research in the hopes of being “first in line.” The truth is, when you apply doesn’t matter; even if software is used to screen applicants and your application makes the cut, a pair of human eyes is likely to be discouraged by your generic letter.
Using the same letter for every job
I know that job hunting is exhausting and it is just easier to send the same letter out. Believe me, putting in the research and time to craft a unique cover letter is well worth it.
In your letter, be sure to go beyond just using the company’s name once or twice. Generic sentences like “I could be a great addition to Company ABC” will not fool anyone into thinking you spent more than five minutes on your application.
A colleague once looked up a candidate and found that their cover letter was a word-for-word copy of their LinkedIn Summary. That application ended up in the “no” pile very quickly.
What will make your cover letter stand out? Spend some time on the company’s website, look through their press releases, their blog posts and other recent news. Try to get a sense of what they’re about and speak to that. What is it about the company that makes you want to apply?
Remember, the hiring manager wants someone with the right skills, but they also want to hire someone who cares about the company and the work they do.
Not speaking to the job
Not all digital marketing jobs are created equal. What one social media manager does at Company A is likely very different than what another social media manager does at Company B.
Speak to your skills and experience and don’t just talk about the usual skills like how organized you are and that you’re great at multitasking. Review the job posting carefully; you can gain some valuable insights about what the current pain points are; identity those and describe how you can help.
The hiring manager wants someone with the right skills, but they also want to hire someone who cares about the company and the work they do.
For example, if the first few bullet points in the job posting are related to increasing the use of social media in Marketing efforts, include examples of campaigns you’ve worked on. Be sure to provide numbers to show how you achieved your goals.
A hiring manager wants someone who understands the issues they’re facing. If you can illustrate that your experience is similar to what they’re looking for, you are sure to stand out.
Not including a cover letter at all
I’m always amazed when someone applies to a job with only their resume. To me, that’s an indication of the lack of effort they put into the application. Gone are the days of writing one version of your resume, photocopying it and sending it out to random managers in the hopes of getting a call back.
Even though it can be tedious and take up a lot of your time, you simply can’t ignore your cover letter. It really is your opportunity to make a good first impression and entice someone to read your resume. If there is no cover letter, you are basically telling people that your resume isn’t worth looking at.
Your cover letter is your foot in the door, don’t try to take short-cuts or you’ll just get the door closed on you.
Have any questions/comments about using your cover letter to stand out? We want to hear from you. Tell us in the comments section below!