There are lots of new SEO jobs coming out this year. Increase your chances of getting that interview by writing an enticing cover letter.

First off, I have to rant for a minute: I can't tell you how many SEO applicants don't include a cover letter with their resumes (even when the ad specifically calls for one). This gives the impression that the applicant either:

  • can't follow simple instructions
  • doesn't genuinely care about the job and just wanted to take a quick stab at it, or he
  • doesn't believe the cover letter request applies to him because he's such a hot commodity and we should be lucky he even submitted his resume.

Not the best first impression, eh?

The cover letter is your chance to highlight your experience and successes, demonstrate your understanding of the position and the company, and show off your personality.

Take the time to write a meaningful cover letter and there's a good chance you'll get a call back. Here are a few suggestions for what to include in that letter:

  1. Analyze the company's website. Write a paragraph or two that demonstrates your knowledge of the site and include a couple suggestions for increasing specific keywords they're targeting. Be concise, but also be specific so they know you're not just throwing around buzz words.
  2. Include stats. How did you improve keyword rankings and increase organic traffic at previous jobs? Sprinkle some hard numbers in and flex your analytical muscles.
  3. Highlight your conversion optimization skills. Increasing organic traffic is great, but what did you do to monetize the site? How did you impact the bottom line? Demonstrate your understanding of the bigger picture.
  4. Speak toward the future. What's going to happen next in search? How will consumer search habits evolve? Show how your insight will bring their company future and long-term success.
  5. Be passionate. Companies want to hire people who love what they do. Talk about how you first got into SEO and how you feel about the latest industry trends.
  6. Get to know the company's culture and write in their language. Show them you'd fit in. Relaxed, creative atmosphere? Write in a more conversational tone. Conservative workplace? Button up a bit.
  7. Consider attaching a short video postcard to the SEO cover letter. This is a bold step, but it shows that you're a communicator who confidently acts outside the box.
  8. Discuss your SEO philosophy. There are a lot of different views on how SEO should work -- show them where you stand. Address specific SEO questions, such as:
  • How do you view Google? A vehicle, a partner, a competitor, or something else?
  • Where do you stand on link purchasing?
  • How do you approach local?
  • What search engine do you personally use and why?

All that said, be aware that your letter could easily turn into a three-page event. Pick and choose what makes sense for you to cover. I would shoot for an uncluttered one-page letter. Be passionate, but also get to the point.

Good luck!

Note: This post was inspired by my recent re-focus on hiring SEO talent. I know some people hiring SEO talent (in Chicago only). For those of you who are looking for an SEO job, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn for more information.