Do You Really Need a Cover Letter?

3. Sales Pitch

Thirdly, after establishing the recipient and your agenda, you can begin selling yourself, which is the main goal of this document. Your sales pitch is further divided into 3 parts:

  • Base
  • Offering
  • Skillset

(3A) Base

First, we’ll set up a base for our pitch, either by critiquing or appreciating the company. You can choose from two approaches:

  1. GAP technique: Use the company’s flaws to sell yourself as the solution. You must clearly explain the contribution you can make. So you’re going in as an asset.
  2. FIRE technique: Make a personal connection and show commitment to what they do. Express passion for the brand and vision. So you’re going in as an advocate.

GAP involves spotting areas of improvement in your department (or in general), and suggesting potential solutions/ideas to make things better. It’s more powerful than FIRE because you’re not simply saying you love the company. But also that you can make a difference here. Directly proving how valuable you are. Managers love problem solvers, so if you can create a “gap,” they’ll consider asking you to fill it up.

The only disadvantage is that this format may be used for some roles only- like marketing and sales, creative, business development, product, customer service, and IT. Good data for these fields is usually available online. You can look at a website, for example, and suggest better designs or promotional strategies. Or you can scan their social media posts, and suggest new topics or types of content they should be trying out.

But giving feedback can be challenging for:

  • Back-end teams like Accounts or HR where you may not always have enough base info to suggest something new.
  • Highly technical positions like secretaries or legal; their SOPs differ greatly from company to company. And as such, are tricky to critique.

Ultimately, you must decide how deep you’re willing to dive and explore the brand. It depends on your creativity and the context. But before you rush to critique your target team, note that:

(A) You must be very careful about your language. Critiquing is a normal and important part of the corporate world. But that’s not the same as complaining or humiliating someone.

Your tone should be positive, not hurtful or mocking. It should not feel like an outsider is attacking the system, otherwise, your pitch will backfire. People should feel you really care about their work, so you want to help them become better. You can use the BURGER feedback format: Good > Bad > Good.

(B) You should be highly specific in your comments. Nobody likes to hear vague or thoughtless statements about their projects. You need to give clear ideas on what can be improved, and how you plan to help with that. Here’s an example:

  • BAD:

I saw our Instagram profile, and think our designs are way too inconsistent. The grid should ideally look aesthetic and connected, but right now, it just sucks. Maybe that’s why we’re not gaining any followers!

  • GOOD:

I checked out our Instagram, and I love the useful but punny study tips we share every day. I do think we deserve more followers for all the hard work we do. One way to do that is to have our feed look aesthetic and consistent. Currently, I feel that our designs have the potential to look more connected and synchronized. By using the same colors (yellow & black) and font style (Times New Roman) across all posts.

That’s something I’d love to collaborate on when I come on board! I’m very excited to learn more from our witty copywriters who make these useful tips.

Alternatively, FIRE requires you to do deep research on recent events, milestones, or movements in the company. Then, use them to show your awareness about the past, present, and future. You must figure out how to tie your own story/goals to that of the company.

  • Maybe the product helped you or someone you know.
  • Or a recent news article about the company caught your eye.
  • Or their values or goals connect with you personally.

Whatever the angle, storytelling must feel real and compelling, not lazily forced. We’ll see case studies for this approach, too.

(3B) Offering

Once you’ve set up the trap, you make the grand entrance:

  • Either as a solution to a machine that’s not working properly (GAP)
  • Or as an asset to add more value to a machine that’s fine (FIRE)

If you’re using GAP, you can start by offering to resolve the problems that you’ve just highlighted. Again, be very specific with your ideas. Here’s an example from a pitch I wrote to Dahmakan, a premium food delivery app:
“Here are some solutions I can briefly propose to increase the low engagement on our Instagram (will be happy to share more in person):

  • Create a number of set weekly series of infographics on specific topics like #HealthHackThursday #StoryBehindThisMeal on Monday, chef features on Fridays (see how I did it for Edulipse).
  • On LinkedIn, craft micro-comments on trending topics in the food & catering industry that our targets are talking about online & capitalize on those trends to feel more aware/topical/smart.
  • Gamify the process with users by initiating campaigns, contests & ‘Foodie of the Month’ awards to engage the community based on their journeys, industries & unique experiences.”

If you’re using FIRE, talk about how you’re feeling so inspired to join the company because of the good points you highlighted above. Be specific about why you want to join the particular department (what draws you to this role?), and briefly mention what value you plan to bring to that team.

(3C) Skillset/Relevancy

After suggesting the solutions (or your intentions to join), you must establish why you’re the best person to execute said changes. The involves talking about:

  • What skills will these initiatives require + do you have them?
  • How have your past experiences have prepared you for this role?
    • Describe your key achievements/victories.
    • Use the format, “The job description mentioned experience in ________. I’ve already done this before at ________. I achieved ___________ in that project.”
  • What makes you so unique in this story?

Let’s go back to my Dahmakan case. I wrote:

“These initiatives require an experienced digital marketing warrior to execute them, and I’m confident that I can bring immense value to that job role. How?

Well, as an experienced professional, I’m sure you’ll agree that today’s marketing jobs require people who can adapt to different roles flexibly in order to build their campaigns and get the message across. And I’ve been working on building such a personality for myself through my experiences in high-pressure international fintech startups like FAVE and RINGGITPLUS in Malaysia.

For RinggitPlus, my marketing arsenal helped me generated 2000 organic leads worth USD22,000 (RM90,000) in just 6 months. In Fave, too, I helped activate their Instagram over 3 months of my internship for sales worth USD3000 and a 22% increase in our average engagement levels.

The end result of these experiences is someone who has advanced capabilities in:

  • Community & customer relationship management (knows HootSuite & Zendesk)
  • Copywriting & Editorial (Blogging)
  • Graphic design & video editing (Adobe CC Suite: Pr, Ae, Ai & Ps)
  • Performance (Google PPC & paid FB Ads)
  • Social analytics (Sales Funnel reporting & business insights)

This makes me an all-in-one package for digital content and community management, someone you can rely on and trust to take charge of all functions related to content marketing and community management on social media.”

To recap the sales pitch:

  • I told them that they need a T-shaped (all-rounder) marketing guy
  • Then explained how I’ve worked in startups to become that guy
  • And proceeded to reveal all the best weapons of my cartel.

4. The CTA

Finally, you must close with a “call-to-action.” What do you want them to do right after reading this letter? Of course, you want to be called for an interview. So explicitly state your request along with:

  • Links

You’ve made bold statements about what you can do; so you should attach documents like your C.V, certificates, and portfolio of previous work to back up those claims. Tell them what you’ve attached so the person can look for the documents below.

  • Bait

Tell them you have an interesting idea or insight to share; make them drool with curiosity. In my case, I told them I’d already made a social media strategy for the brand, and I’d love to present it to the team. They couldn’t help calling me.

  • Availability

Let them know which dates and times you’re usually free for this month. Set a time constraint so they will be forced to reply to you within a week or two. Offer options instead of vaguely asking, “What time are you free?” Be in control.

When you combine these elements, your CTA will look a little like this:
But don’t take it from me, I’ve attached a clickable portfolio with this email so that you can check out my work and the results with your own eyes. Also attached are my updated CV and a cover letter. To take it a step further, I’ve used the above points to put together a comprehensive marketing and community management strategy for our brand. And I’d love to present my ideas to you in person at our office.

I’m available any time after 3pm next week on Mondays, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Which day works best for you? Looking forward to building the future. Wish you a great weekend ahead! 🙌

5. Sign-Off

Last but not the least, your signature at the bottom must contain:

  • Name
  • Phone
  • LinkedIn link
  • Blog/Social link
  • Current City

My signature goes like this:

Yours in growth,

Manik Rege

M.: +60 11 1620xxxx 
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Key Takeaway

That brings us to the end of the letter. The golden rule? Just keep in mind that the cover is about the company. Even when you’re talking about yourself, you need to justify how it is relevant and useful for the recruiter. Every sentence you write must build a strong case arguing why they need you at this particular time. It’s just like any other sales pitch- you create a need. And then you offer to fill it up.

If you want more hands-on examples, I’ve got you. On the next page, you’ll find snapshots of two pitches I wrote for the same company. I used the FIRE one and got an interview call the very next day.

But I’ll still include both my options so that you can see the different angles in action. Flip to read. Or go back to the main page.

Published by Manik Rege

Hey there! Full disclosure, I'm a bit of a mess. But my interests range from Career Growth Strategy to Marketing & Branding, and Animal Rights to filter coffee. Same vibe? Tweet to me @manik_rege.

6 thoughts on “Do You Really Need a Cover Letter?

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