5 mistakes marketers shouldn’t be making on their cover letters

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s an adage that is practically unavoidable in the contemporary business climate, with shows like The Apprentice reminding us again and again just how ruthless employers can be with candidates that don’t make the cut.

I have previously given my advice on how to go about starting a career in marketing, as well as how to recruit your first marketing employee. As someone who recruits for marketing positions in my team there a common cover letter mistakes I see time and time again.

In this post I will go through how to write a killer cover letter.

Your cover letter is your personal advertisement, and for marketers, it is potentially even more important than your qualifications and your employment history.

Why? Because being able to market yourself is reflective of your ability to market a business.

Here are some common mistakes marketing candidates should avoid like the plague.

A Dull Opening

What was the last infomercial you watched? They open with an “expert” telling you their name, and instantly viewers pick up the remote and flick over.

Employers are skim-readers. Even if they aren’t, they will soon adapt when they have seventy resumes to get through with a deadline.

Don’t open by stating your name or where you grew up. Kick things off with all of your best facts; if you’ve worked with a high-profile company, start with something like: “My career in marketing really took off when I procured a senior role at …”

Hook them from the start.

Being Self-Obsessed

People like talking about themselves, but it’s always bad in excess, and especially toxic in your cover letter.

Yes, you are “selling yourself,” but half of the process is explaining to the employer how you will benefit them, not that they have advertised your “dream job”.

Research the company, and link all of your skill sets directly to your potential role within the institution you’ve applied for. Make it obvious that having you around is vital, and you’re sure to have an employer’s attention.

Underselling Experience

This is especially typical of graduates, who are yet to comprehend a universe outside of education, where qualifications are everything.

Qualifications are important, but they aren’t as important as your marketing work experience.

You might not have a wealth of experience, especially if you’re younger, but focus more on specific points at which skills you learned on the job helped you overcome a problem.

For example, say something like: “I have developed a keen understanding of consumer marketing trends, which was incredibly useful for dealing with this situation, etc.” It proves your skills work in practice.

Including Irrelevant Information

A handy “triple-I” for you to remember, here, for two reasons.

The first is that adding details of your life that don’t make sense on a CV – like your Friday night poker club – tells employers that you’re scraping the barrel a little, even if you aren’t.

The second is that, in the famous words of Shakespeare, “Brevity is the soul of wit”. Being concise is a skill that surprisingly few marketers possess, so pitching yourself in a way that is short and sweet – but not too short – always puts employers in a good mood.


Failure to proofread in a cover letter is symptomatic of either a punctuality issue,  an ego so fragile that the candidate didn’t let any other eyes glance over it or poor proof-reading skills.

Both of these problems spell disaster to an employer, especially for a marketing role where you are often required to write and proof read copy.

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