Writing a covering letter for graduate marketing, advertising and PR jobs
Covering letters are tough to write at the best of times. For marketing, advertising and PR jobs, you'll need to have some extra flair to get yourself hired.
Hook the recruiter in with a great opening line and avoid any clichés.
A covering letter is your opportunity to tell the recruiter why you are applying, what skills you have that would make you a good fit and what motivates you.
If you’re uncertain about how to handle the basics of a covering letter, check out our guide to covering letter essentials before you come back here to tailor your covering letter specifically to marketing, advertising or PR employers.
For advertising, marketing and PR jobs, your covering letter is your sales pitch. In marketing, advertising or PR jobs, as well as the basics covered in the link above, the recruiter will be looking at the style of your covering letter to see how well you can get a message across. Hook the recruiter in with a great opening line and avoid any clichés, such as ‘I have always wanted to...’ or ‘I am passionate about...’, as they will make you seem unoriginal. If you have a mutual contact, put their name in the first sentence too – it will help to set you apart from other candidates.
You could also consider putting together a creative application. Check out our advice to find out more about the pros, cons, risks and potential rewards.
You are applying to be part of a business communications chain. As such you are expected to creatively sell products. In your covering letter, you are the product. Consider some of the following approaches for opening lines:
- Lead with your success: eg ‘my last project went viral on Twitter and hooked XX retweets, I want to do more and that’s why I’m applying…’
- Lead with an interesting character trait (but only if the employer is seeking that trait in the advert): eg ‘after my ten-day Sahara trek, my feet were worn and I was dehydrated, but I had developed a great sense of resilience. I can see this is a trait appreciated in your account executives so…’
- Namedrop if you can: eg ‘I met John Smith from your agency, and what he said about your digital strategy persuaded me to apply because…’
At the end of the day, these examples are just there to help get your creative juices flowing. Only an original covering letter that doesn’t depend on recruitment clichés will get you noticed in the marketing industry.
The rest of the letter
Make sure to mention in your letter why you want to work for a particular agency, what experiences you’ve had that have developed the skills they need and how you would like to develop in future.
For PR and advertising copywriter jobs in particular, first-rate persuasive writing skills are crucial. Concise, snappy sentences are a must and don’t be afraid to let a little personality or humour in if appropriate. For more help, read our advice on how to brand yourself through your style, name and tone.
Remember where you are applying
As you would do if you were marketing a new product, research the organisation and establish who your target market is. Are you applying to a quirky agency that would value a more creative application? Or are you competing for a job at a large corporation where formal is the norm?
If the correct contact name isn’t included on the job advert, you should be able to find out with a quick phone call to the organisation. It may be part of your job in future to remember names and faces in the industry, demonstrate this early on.
Startups or newer agencies that recruit may choose a creative name for their business. It’s all well and good if it attracts you, but if an agency is named after an unusual animal or colour and doesn’t have an about us section on its website, it is worth trying to find out a bit more about them. Call up the organisation and ask a few questions. It will also show how proactive you are.
The golden rule
The final golden rule of writing CVs and covering letters is to get them proofread by a friend. If an employer is going to trust you to write press releases or advertising copy, your spelling, grammar and punctuation needs to be up to scratch. Any mistakes or inconsistencies could instantly put you out of the running.