Cover letters: Market yourself like a Mac
Creating a cover letter that dazzles can be tricky, unless of course you have the marketing genius of Steve Jobs. Apple has mastered the concept of getting their brand message out and building up a loyal following. They know their audience, and they know how to speak to them.
Let’s use the iPad as the most recent example. Sure, the name may have taken some heat when introduced back in January. Humorous comments bombarded blogs and message boards poking fun at the gadget’s name.
My personal favourite was: “Are you there god, it’s me marketing?” a clever reference to the 1970s Judy Blume novel exploring pre-teen female dilemmas.
As April approached and anticipation grew, it became clear the jokes only helped draw attention to the new device. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Apple is no slouch when it comes to catching the public’s eye. They know what they do well and they know how to communicate it to their audience.
Evaluating what we do best and knowing how to sell that quality can be an important lesson for the rest of us. Unfortunately we don’t all have a team of experts working on our personal brand, making it the best thing that a future employer has ever seen.
Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own personal brand that wins over potential employers. You just have to know what you’re good at and who your audience is.
When applying for his first job in advertising, a friend of mine created a cheeky cover letter that demonstrated that he had the wit and creative flair necessary to be a success in that industry.
Rather than simply promoting his accomplishments, he listed out numerous reasons for and against hiring him.
For example, one reason he cited in the ‘Why Not to Hire Me’ category was: His love for Steely Dan.
It turned out that the boss loved Steely Dan too and offered him the job. (Presumably for more reasons than a shared and questionable taste in music.)
The humorous list was a risky strategy, but it worked. The letter told his future employer that:
a) He was willing to take some intelligent risks.
b) He was funny, smart and personable.
c) He was creative.
Were he applying for a job in the financial industry, the audience would have been different and would have required a different message.
In this case, however, my friend had taken stock of what it was that he does well, what the company was looking for, and combined them into a message that branded him in the employer’s eyes as someone who was a right fit for the role.
That is exactly what a cover letter should do. Grab potential employers’ attention and make them want to know more about you. This gets them reading you your resume, or better yet, inviting you in for an interview.
As for taking career inspiration from a technology company’s marketing spin, maybe it’s no coincidence that it’s headed up by a guy named Jobs.