LAST week, I said that your marketing campaign should start with writing an attention-grabbing curriculum vitae.

But sending just a CV to a recruiter is inadequate. The next step is to craft a cover letter explaining to your potential employer why you applied for the position and what you can offer.

In marketing jargon, your cover letter highlights your benefits. Recruiters usually read cover letters carefully. An effective cover letter makes a positive impact. Some recruiters invite candidates for an interview on the strength of the cover letter, putting aside or flicking through the CV.

Find out as much as you can about the company and the job before writing a cover letter as this justifies why you are a good match for the job. This is imperative market research that needs to be done. Most professional recruiters are willing to furnish you with information you need.

Keep it brief

The message in your cover letter should:

* command attention quickly;

* get and maintain interest;

* provide necessary details; and

* persuade the reader to act on your application.

The best way to achieve these objectives is to write a concise letter with each paragraph describing a specific aspect. The letter should be brief, direct and not more than one page.

Whenever possible, address it to a named person. Letters that begin with "Dear Sir" have no place in the course of your marketing campaign. Organise your thoughts with a draft first.

In the letter, address the specific issues in the advertisement and highlight areas that meet the requirements. It is usually a good idea to echo some of the phrases used in the advertisement. The person who wrote the ad took a lot of trouble to think it up and will find the repetition pleasing. Ideally, your letter should consist of four concise paragraphs.

First paragraph

This is an introduction to explain why you are applying for the vacancy.

Avoid stock phrases like, "I am writing to apply for" It is much better to open with something like: "Thank you for your time on the telephone the other day, and for giving me more information about the job of marketing manager at..."

You should also mention the documentation you have enclosed to support your application, such as your CV.

Second paragraph

This paragraph explains your motivation in seeking the job. Tell the recruiter why you are interested in the job and why you want it.

For example, "This job appeals to me because it offers the opportunity to build on the expertise I have developed in marketing" and "This position is the next logical step in my career."

Third paragraph

This is the most important paragraph. This is where you explain why the employer should employ you.

You should get across to the recruiter what you can offer and how you can contribute to the organisation. Use bullet points if you want as they make your marketing message appear strong, powerful and easy to read.

For example:

"I can offer Synpharm:

* Five years of experience in selling and marketing pharmaceuticals

* Two years of product management in oncology products

* Experience of two successful product launches, and so on.

Avoid exaggerating or understating your achievements. You do not need to go into all the details here. These should be in your CV.

Fourth paragraph

Your conclusion should ask, directly or indirectly, for the interview. After all, it is the objective of writing the letter.

Make a final check by ensuring that the letter is neatly presented and check for mistakes. Make sure that you have included all your contact details, including mobile phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and remember to send a copy of your CV.