Cover letter writing for your personal brand.

So much controversy seems to surround the topic of cover letters. This post addresses some fundamental positions on cover letter writing and how it expresses your personal brand.

The purpose of a cover letter

Cover letters have got to be one of the greatest mysteries associated with job applications. I find that people are fairly well divided on their beliefs as to whether cover letters are necessary or not. Some people maintain that “nobody reads cover letters” while others are adamant that “a job application is not complete without one.”

I’m in the second group, more or less. I cannot control whether prospective employers read the cover letters or not, but I can control whether they have to OPPORTUNITY to read one. If the person receiving your application is expecting a cover letter, you could end up in the “No” pile in no time flat. That’s why I like to recommend that you always include a cover letter with your resume submission.

The cover letter allows you to create a more personal connection with the reader. The resume gets right down to business, but in cover letters, you can sound more like a real person – who is qualified and should be considered for the position.

A cover letter writing is a way to introduce your resume – and your personal brand – to the reader. The cover letter helps establish context and set the tone for what’s to come in the attached resume. It can prime the reader to be on the lookout for details on certain achievements you have in your resume. It also shows you cared enough about your application to produce one.

In business and in life, showing you care can go a really long way.

Creative cover letters versus formal cover letters

First, consider two types of cover letters. Remember I said that the industry is fairly divided on the use of cover letters, well so are the people who advocate for them. Some people suggest that cover letters should be creative and that they should never say something that you would not actually say in person. An example of this could be the sentence “Please reply at your earliest convenience”. One could argue that no one would say that in real life and so it should not be included in your cover letter.

Creative cover letters, done well, can grab attention. You’ll need to know a fair bit about the company and even the people reading the cover letter. It’s a little riskier, but it can really have traction.

The other type of cover letter takes a more formal tone. One could argue that people expect a cover letter to be formal, so give them a formal letter.

When it comes to deciding between creative and formal cover letter writing, I suggest erring on the side of formality. Perhaps that’s my generation talking though. You could say that your personal brand, and hence the type of employer you want to work with, would appreciate a creative cover letter. In that case, I think it’s great that you’ve thought it through so far, and go with it.

If you’re on the fence and want the best chance of getting an interview, I suggest a formal cover letter. I mean, it doesn’t have to stuffy and boring, but rather more formal and less whimsical.

Critical marketing information to include in your cover letter

If you think about your cover letter as a piece of marketing material, like I do. Then there are some pieces of information that you absolutely must include:

  • Make sure your audience is identified (i.e., NOT To Whom It May Concern)
  • Allude to or describe the pain points
  • Describe with examples how you can alleviate the pain
  • Ask them to do something specific and easy (i.e., review your resume and call you for an interview)
  • Provide them with the info they need to contact you 

I hope this helped you understand the purpose of cover letter writing, two different types of cover letters – creative and formal, and the critical marketing information you should have in it. If you liked this article, please consider signing-up for my email list where you can receive even more information like this.

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Holly Hagan

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