|Do You Need a Cover Letter in the Ad Business, and Why?
By: Brian Keller
Along with your resume, many companies ask for a cover letter. A cover letter is something you use to cover your resume and introduce yourself as a person wanting the job you sent the resume in for. People could be confused, in today’s high-tech, fast-paced world, that you may just like to send resumes because you have a very high-paying, fulfilling job and resume sending is your hobby as it’s cooler than scrapbooking.
We have reached out to Amber Lee Bambee, Smith/HR assistant at Omeebah Creative Lab and U. Cal Irvine B.A. Humanities (2012).
Us: “Hi, Amber Lee: We have questions about cover letters and their place in today’s fast-paced world of hiring, recruiting, and advertising.”
Amber Lee: “First, it’s a failsafe. If we lose your resume we can find your address on the cover letter. It’s back up and most people should realize the more you back up and the more you document, the more people you will eventually be able to implicate while conversely unimplicating yourself. The cover letter will also act as your window to me.”
Amber Lee: “Exactly! Like, how will I know you want the job? I mean, how will I know your key strengths, or your goals, or your objectives? You could put them in the resume, but I wouldn’t; I would save that space for flowers and cool designs on your letterhead. I mean, really, your objective is to get a job. If you write to me and tell me that you have, let’s say, a broad-based spectrum of experience in something I’m interested in, then you have my attention. In other words, you’ve broken my window.”
Us: “Excuse me?”
Amber Lee: “You don’t understand? How do I know you’re a team player who plays well with others? No need to answer, as I am intuitive. You have a job, so I know that HR at your company got a letter from you stating that you’re a team player and play well with others. Also, a lot of us want to hire rock star “creatives,” planners, account people, UX people etc. If you don’t indicate somewhere that you are a rock star, how will we know? You can’t do it on your resume; that would be bragging. You can slyly get it across in the cover letter! Here’s an example:
“I was the guy who thought up the idea for the whole campaign, which resulted in us doing well and we all got to stay at Standard.”
“That says to me that this person played well with others and succeeded. See how he used “us” and “we” and staying at the Standard shows his good taste? It’s cover letter one-OH-one.”
Us: “We understand. Can we show you a resume? Do you think this resume needs a cover letter?”
Amber Lee: “I’m here for you. Gee, I wonder what that was about? I wish someone could explain it to me, maybe with a letter. I don’t understand what that person meant in the resume when she stated chronologically in bullet points that she held a position as account executive with Marcus Bailey Worldwide from 2007–2012 and worked on Angel Paste and Plutonium White. Her resume showed she also worked for Proctor and Gamble from 2004–2007 and moved to brand manager. What kind of shift does a brand manager work? It’s not in the resume. Her first job was with Unilever, 1998–2004; that’s nice, but how much experience has she had? Does she know how to work in a fast-paced environment? Can she empower others? Will she use her knowledge and experience? I don’t know, as she never told us. And, what’s in the resume doesn’t show me, clearly and concisely, if she has any consumer package goods experience, as that’s what we are hiring for.”
Us: “These are large CPG companies.”
Amber Lee: “But did she work on the consumer, the package, or the goods? And her education, University of Maryland, 1995, B.A., M.B.A Wharton, 1997…I mean, has she spent her whole life in school? How much real-world experience does she have? Her resume is just one page. Red flag!”
Amber Lee: “So, without a cover letter you ain’t making it. If you don’t think you can write a cover letter, use a cover-letter service and pay them…especially in advertising, as we are looking for the unique and original. After all, who knows more about you and what you bring to the table at the end of the day than someone you pay? I mean, would you take out your own spleen? Don’t write your own cover letter, especially if you don’t have a job. You can’t afford the time but you should be able to, with government assistance, afford a cover-letter service. Most cover letters are boring and generic. That's where a professional cover-letter builder comes in. They make it easy to create a professional cover letter that will convince companies to give you an interview and make sure that you use a cool typeface and have a neat design. The cover letter…it’s all about the cover letter.”
We do agree with Amber Lee Bambee in part. A succinct cover letter (very short, which means succinct in some countries) that addresses your interest in the job and highlights compatible skills and experience is good. A cover letter can’t cover all that is unique about you and all you have to offer, but it can show that you can be brief and professional. Always write your own material. Remember, you’re applying for a job in advertising and you are your own best agency. Take advantage of the opportunity to make an impression.
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.
Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.
He has built the creative departments at two agencies.
He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.
Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.