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 How to use marketing techniques in a job application letter

Learn tricks of the trade so powerful they will put you way ahead of the competition. You will start to get more interviews immediately if you use these techniques.

Selling yourself to an employer is not different to selling any product on the market. You need to convince the customer, and in this case the employer, to hire you based on your own uniqueness - what you, the product, can do for him/her that no-one else will. He/she will want to know ‘what is in it for me'?

In job search you are the product and the product does not sell itself. Jobseekers have to proactively market themselves like any other product that is being launched onto the marketplace, whether in a job application letter or at a face to face meeting.

On this page

What do we mean by using marketing techniques in a job application letter?

Products will be sold based on features and benefits.

Use marketing techniques in your  job application letter

Benefits become outcomes / results in job search

Expand on your skills

Examples of features and benefits

Develop a plan to write your job application letter

Recommended resources

In other sections we have covered a range of job search strategies and job application letters. These include 8 categories of job applications used in job search, where to find a job and recruitment methods. This section complements Writing an application letter  for an advertised position.

The section called writing applications for an advertised job contains a lot of valuable information and looks at opening statements. So it is not repeated here, but is very important to the letter writing process. Both should be used and in this section.

While this section relates to writing a job application letter, for any situation, it is only one way to find a market for your employment skills and experience. The marketing concepts learned in this tutorial can be used by jobseekers to assist them to understand why they need to show an employer what they can do for them and use sales techniques to effectively sell themselves, verbally as well as in writing. This section will assist jobseekers to:-

  • Understand what an employer wants from a perspective employee through use of a marketing analogy.

  • Recognise features and benefits and use them to write a job application letter, especially cold calling or cold canvassing letters.

  • Understand the value of the skills they have to offer potential employer.

  • Gain the self- confidence to proceed with more a proactive job search plan.

  • Assist with writing quality content for their resume  -  outcome  / value based statements or benefit statements.

If you are serious about finding the job of your choice, and prepared to put more work into your job search by following the advice on this site, you will find a job despite stiff competition The information in this section is unique to Pro-Active Human Resource Management

For more advanced winning application letter opening statement see

The world's greatest job application letters

What do we mean by using marketing techniques in a job application letter?

Overview of this concept as it relates to job search : product, price and distribution

Product:  Your skills, knowledge abilities, qualifications, experience, attributes, and values etc., that make you the person you are.  All products have to fulfil the customer’s needs or wants. So you need to first establish what you have to offer an employer. What are your features and benefits?  In job search you are the product and the product does not sell itself.

Distribution:  Here you must determine how you are going to reach your target market. How do you share yourself around to people whose needs you can answer? We looked at Distribution in the overview of recruitment methods and where to find a job and employment and career opportunities.  In “real life marketing” you do your research before you develop the product based on the customer’s needs. Carrying this concept into employment you could say this is what career planning is about. 

Price:  Know your worth.  How much are your skills/experience worth in the job market. You must also be able to agree on a price. So before you contact an employer you need to know your worth.

If you are cold calling the person you contact is bound to ask you about your salary expectations.

Salary Links 

Amazing Cover Letters

Some good basic advice about salaries and how you can increase your chances of getting paid the most a company is willing to offer.

My Career    Very good section

Quintessential Careers   (Very big section on salary negotiation - provides a lot of links to sites and articles)

This marketing concept is not rocket science, and it has been around forever. What is probably new to you is that you can apply the concept to yourself.  You need to market yourself in your job application letter. You are the product and you need to reach the buyer - the employer.

Products will be sold based on features and benefits.

This marketing principle can be applied to your job search activities - to write a resume and in all employment related activities - cold calling and networking, for example, and especially in an application letter or cover letter if you prefer. We looked at distribution in the "overview of recruitment methods".

The “so what” question.

If you can answer the buyer's needs you are successfully promoting yourself as a product. Your job application letter must address the employers criteria and by clearly defining the features and benefits of the product - you. To test benefit statements the marketing method is to ask "so what?"  Only when the seller satisfies the "so what test" can they claim a benefit. For example to use a simple example you might say, I can type. I would then say "so what?" If you say "I can type at 150 words a minute" then I would know, and most most people will agree, that this is very fast and a benefit to the organisation.  No-one would say "so what? But there are other skills that you need to elaborate on to give a benefit statement. This is explained further on.

In your job application letter you must state that you possess the skills and experience the employer wants and then tell them how you used the skills, (what for) and how they can benefit from your skills/experience. Show them the advantages of employing you.

Know your features and benefits

Feature- describes what the product does or is used for. In job search your features are your skills, knowledge abilities, qualifications, experience, attributes and values that you bring to the job. Also more importantly the employer will want to know how you used these skills to the benefit of the employer. In a job advertisement the skills they ask for are usually the features. You must supply the benefits.

Benefit - is what each of the features mean to the prospective buyer. What are they getting out of it or what is in it for them?  Benefit is also an ‘advantage’.  In job search term is called an outcome. 

Some people may call these achievements but these can be very personal  to them and may not necessarily help the employer with their bottom line – money, through increased productivity or clever ideas marketing ideas for example. Although of course students and other younger employers may have to use achievements that are not job oriented to show that they have to capacity to achieve outcomes for employers and shows numerous character building skills. 

Example of a product's features and benefits.

Just to reiterate, if a buyer can say ‘so what’ you haven’t shown a benefit. If you have ever done online shopping you look behind the picture of the product and you may see ‘features’ and/or ‘specifications’. Specifications are the raw data about the product that doesn’t try and sell the product. Features are what sells the product.

Now let’s look at our own Dyson state of the art vacuum cleaner for example, that has been heavily marketed. See how many of these features you can say ‘so what to’. This is a measure used to tell the salesman that they haven’t shown what is in it for them (benefit).

Overview from the main Dyson site. Does this show many benefits?

Dyson DC41 Animal is a Dyson Ball™ upright vacuum with the latest Radial Cyclone™ technology. (feature) It generates the strongest suction power at the cleaner head, to powerfully remove dust, dirt and pet hair from the home. (benefit)? Includes a Mini turbine head to clean pet hair and stubborn dirt from upholstery, stairs and the car.

Go deeper into the site and look at what the product does and it contain many benefits.

These are a few examples where they break up the features up into different functions. The headings are the features and the rest in the benefits or outcomes you can expect from this product. But does it answer the "so what" question?

Ball™ technology. Turns on the spot. Manoeuvres easily around furniture, obstacles and into difficult places. Now I would go one step further and say "so you don't scratch your furniture or strain your back". This is a better example of a benefit to me - the buyer.

Mini Turbine Head. Ideal for improved pet hair pick-up on upholstery, stairs and the car. Yes this is ok but not a real benefit statement. What are the real benefits?  What would it mean to you? I can still ask "so what?"

Hygienic bin emptying. Dyson vacuums are hygienic and quick to empty, with no need to touch the bag. This is a clearer benefit to me.

Benefits become outcomes / results in job search

As we have established, in job search methods you are the product and the product does not sell itself. In job search the product benefits are an outcome or a result and you should clearly show these in your resume and your job application letter. This concept may be difficult to grasp, however as you read on you will come to many examples. 

If you have a high level of skill/experience and your resume has been prepared by a professional writer, your resume will have at least 60% outcome based statements. An outcome usually involves something that is measurable. Some statements will only show the feature (the skill/knowledge you used) to produce an outcome.

What if your occupation or job doesn’t lend itself to an outcome or features and benefits?

In some cases when you have no outcomes to contribute if you are a new jobseeker or do a range of jobs that are just skills related or manual work, for example, you can stick with just features.  However just have a look at spread sheets shown below as an example. It may not have an outcome but you can assist your company by providing statistics that can be used for the benefit of the company. So they have to be accurate and you need to complete within a time frame. You are just as important to the organisation as management or other higher level positions. The trick is to elaborate on how you use your skills. This is addressed later.

For clarity, and as a theory, this section will mainly concentrate on using both features and benefits.

Once you are clear on features and benefits, and within the limits of your experience, you should try to find features and benefits when writing resume statements and marketing yourself in a job application letter.  If you can't find a benefit or outcome, at least show how you utilised the skill and to what level.  Some people do not want to put too much information in their resume as they consider it is private information on the company they have worked for and do not want it put in a resume. See an example of this situation. 

This is a typical professional management resume benefit statement that can be used in a job application letter. (If appropriate to the skill or experience in the criteria). In this case the benefit comes first. It is more effective than the feature and then the benefit.

  • Saved $300,000 over two years (benefit) by renegotiating building leases for all properties. (feature - negotiating skill utilised)

However, as shown in How to write an application for an advertised job your benefit statement in your application letter must not be exactly the same wording as in your resume, but the concept of a benefit statement is the same.

Meaningless phrases : Expanding your skills

Firstly let's address a very common problem. When asked to fill out a form many jobseekers show just a one word description of their skills. Many resumes presented for rewriting show skills written in one to three words, and the jobseeker makes the same mistake in their job application letter.

You must expand on your skills. I hope this has changed but I still get the odd resume written like this.  See skills such as:-

Computer skills – use excel spreadsheets and MYOB software

Merchandising

Performance Appraisals

Rosters

Repaired and maintained mining equipment

Attended meetings

Accounts

Stocktaking

Liaison with other departments

Q. What does this tell the employer?

 A. Nothing.

Let’s try it again and expand upon these meaningless resume / job application phrases using features and benefits or just features.

Some contain features (or tasks which represent your skills and ability to carry them out) and benefits. Other phrases may reflect how your skills were used and others have the potential to add a result or outcome, that is if the applicant can demonstrate how it benefited the company in measurable outcomes, such as $1,000 cost saving per month. 

Resume and job application letters will vary depending on the level of the job seekers responsibility and experience. An executive's statements will be stronger and more sophisticated. A blue collar worker's statements will be different again. This is just a guide.

See if you can recognise a feature and benefit. These can be used in your resume and job application letter.

Examples of features and benefits

Computer skills – spreadsheets and MYOB

Excel is a just one spreadsheet programme.  Using spreadsheets, not necessarily excel, is a skill that few jobseekers recognise as valuable to an organisation. Companies use spreadsheets for many purposes and they provide data that can be analysed by other to increase production and finances for example. Here is one that is expanded upon.

  • Used spreadsheets to record and track overtime and provided weekly statistics to the production manager.

  • Extensive use of Excel spread sheets for opening and maintaining customer profiles.

Now the production manager will probably be able to create and outcome based on this person’s work. So it is important to the organisation. Say how many accounts you handle etc. But be aware of giving away private company information.

 Merchandising

  • Apply merchandising skills to constantly review and change displays to maximise impulse buying and increase profits. (Current tense - still working in that job)

 Performance Appraisals

  • Implemented KPI indicators and conducted performance appraisals in order to measure performance and identify areas of staff development, training and discipline.

Note: Here you could have the final benefit or measurable outcome, but most companies do not follow up and measure these types of changes. Once again if you want to advance in your career you could put a process in place yourself to give these figures.

Prepared rosters

  • Reduced the wages budget by $120,000 in 2005 by restructuring rosters to coincide with high demand periods.    

Repaired and maintained mining equipment

  • Repaired, overhauled and serviced a range of mobile and stationary  heavy industrial mining plant and equipment to ensure proper performance and safety to meet company standards. 

 Attended meetings

  • Contributed to weekly management meetings, and verbally presented  forecasting sheets to the duty managers, in order to assist them to make decisions on staffing levels and general catering preparation.

 Accounts

  • Maintained both accounts payable and receivable ensuring all accounts paid within supplier’s terms and conditions to avoid excess fees for late payment.

 Stocktaking

  • Implemented stock control for 70 departments, sourcing new product lines to replace low profit generating items resulting in faster turnover of stock - directly contributing to higher sales and profit margin by 24%.

 Library duties - (This is just one of the "library duties" expanded upon in this particular resume).

  • Successfully applied for funding to connect the library computers to the Internet and to purchase new computers to support the new technology.

The next step is to incorporate these marketing techniques into your resume or job application / employment letter. Use writing of an application letter using Aida. This section expand upon effective application letter for an advertised job

In this section we do not want to repeat what has been said in the above section, however we can clarify some points and look at a plan on how to write your job application letter. You will need to look at both sections to complete an overall picture on the job application letter writing process. We can also address how to use the information in cold calling letters.

Using marketing techniques in your job application letter

 

Any formal business letter, whether it is for a marketing letter or job application, has a beginning, a middle and an end. It also uses AIDA. Attention, Interest, desire, and action. You can download AIDA here.

 

We have used this in how to apply for an advertised job however this concentrates more on opening statements and value added statements that you need to read..

 

Lets look at it again and just concentrate on features and benefits.

You can use features and benefits to write your opening statement. This looks primarily on the structure of the job application letter.

We assume you have research the company fully.

 

The beginning of the job application

Begin with the end in mind. What is your goal of your letter?

 

The beginning of the letter is used to state the position you are applying for and is reserved for the impact statement - the opening statement or headline sentence.  (see job application for an advertised job )

 

In a cold calling or networking letter it will include a reference to the person who introduced you to the reader, or the reason why you are writing.

See marketing techniques for examples of opening statements

 

The middle of the job application

 

In marketing, this is the "interest" section. This section is used to address the employers needs and demonstrate that the applicant has all the criteria the employer requires. Here you use features and benefits related to the employer's criteria.

 

If you are writing an application letter in response to an advertised position, the length depends on how many criteria the employer has requested. Spend a lot of time making this information short and precise.

If the job is not advertised you need to think carefully about the most important aspects of the job and what would interest the employer.

This can be up to three short paragraphs or preferably, about 4 bullet points.

This has also been called skills matching

Cold calling and networking letters must demonstrate how the jobseeker can contribute to the organisation as well as covering the main skill areas and this can only be determined after researching the company. They should contain all features and benefits. Remember, as discussed in advertised jobs, do not sell yourself out of a job.

The end of the job application letter

In marketing terms, the end of your application letter is the desire statement or closing statement.  In sales terms you are about to closes the sale and need to pull something out of your hat to impress the buyer. This can be a "value added statement" as shown in  job application for an advertised job. By now you should have built up sufficient interest so that the buyer (the employer) will want to meet you to (the desire) to see if you are what the company needs, and ultimately will make a job offer. This is where you can add value to you job application

An action statement should be used in this last section. In job search the goal is to get an interview so the applicant needs to ask for an interview or in the case of a cold calling letter, a chance to meet face to face. See cold calling sample letters

Go to  Application for an advertised job for more information on the beginning the middle and the end.

If you are not sure of what a good action statement is try this resource. Opening and closing statement examples  in amazing cover letters

or  

Get your complimentary copy of Top 10 Secrets of the… "World’s Greatest Cover Letter"

Do not be put off if you do not have 100% of the employer's criteria. Providing you meet at the very least 75% of the criteria and are prepared to learn the skills they require, have a go.  Attributes and references can often influence the employer. Further, knowing about the company and being able to relate to these skills you do not have will assist you to address them in the job application letter. See how your skills fit into the job - you may have done something that requires the same type of processes or knowledge but doesn't match the job exactly. You have to try and show how your skills were used and how they could be used to cover the very specific criteria they have asked for.

Develop a plan to write your job application letter

This has been addressed in the mini tutorial. 

Job Application - Advertised position using AIDA.

  • Look carefully at the job criteria advertised and write each one down leaving space for your notes.

  • Under each job criteria write down your experience in these areas. You may want to do this on the computer and cut and paste from your resume at this stage. Group them together into logical order.

  • If you haven't been able to meet all the employer's criteria there are example phrases you can use to show you are highly motivated to learn or as shown above . You have transferable skills that can be utilised to cover specific areas that you cannot address.

  • Analyse what you have. Can any of this combined information be summed up into an opening statement (see below) Your benefit statement is probably in your resume if it is outcome based. As stated earlier, the middle of the road jobs may find this task a bit more difficult. Work with what you have. Don't repeat the resume.

  • When you have your opening statement you can see what criteria is left to address or to expand upon using  features as already decided by the employer. Now you must provide a benefit statement.

In order to produce a winning application letter that will land you your dream job, you need to read all 5 sections on letter writing. In addition to this section, these are:-

Recommended Resources

As stated, there are many resources you can use that show you how to write an effective job application letter. This skill will not be wasted and may be considered as professional development. Some application letter writing software you may like to own is  Amazing Cover Letters Creator. If you are writing a lot of letters this resource will suit you. These letters must be customised, and this is a feature of the software and can be stored into a template as a lot of the information is generic.

 

A Killer Secret To Get Your Letter Read

Jimmy Sweeney reveals the secret technique to getting your job application letter read by the employer/Recruitment Manager. This cover letter technique, when used properly, practically guarantees that he or she will stay with you till the last line of your cover letter, article, or report.

Jimmy also covers opening statements used in the previous section.

 

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