What Do Recruiters Look For in a Cover Letter?
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What Do Recruiters Look For in a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a one-page advertisement of you and your skills. When you take the time to step out of the generic cover letter mould, recruiters will take notice. The cover letter can explain what the resume cannot. It’s an opportunity to showcase what’s not on the resume and especially how you fit to the specific job and/or organization. You can also briefly explain unemployment or gaps in work history. When recruiters are on the fence with a candidate, reading the cover letter can impress and push them ahead of other job seekers.

A cover letter should indicate that you are familiar with the role and show how you would be a great fit. Recruiters look for key elements of the job contained in the letter. Essentially, they are looking for a match between the job description and the components listed in the cover letter. Give examples of similar experience you had in other jobs, as they want to see evidence that you can do the job.

Recruiters don’t want to take a lot of time to pour over lengthy dense paragraphs to extract information. Keep paragraphs short and details concise. Let the resume shine with more facts and save in-depth details for the interview. Your cover letter should be written in a way that makes it extremely easy for the recruiter to quickly scan and come away with a clear understanding of your objective and your key qualifications. This way, they can quickly and easily match your experience and qualifications to the specifications of the positions they are trying to fill.

While your cover letter should still have a strong emphasis on accomplishments and results, it should also be very factual and concise. Using bullet points to call out key points is a good idea. You should also make sure that you clearly communicate not only the type and level of position you are seeking, but also the industries in which you have experience and your geographic preferences. This is the only situation you should reveal your salary expectations in your cover letter, as well.

Send your cover letter in the recruiter’s preferred format. Most experts say the best format is to paste both your cover letter and resume in the body of your e-mail and attach a copy of your resume in Word. In particular, experts note that the cover letter should be in the body of the e-mail message and will rarely be opened if it is sent as its own attachment. However, it is recommended that you closely follow the instructions listed in the job posting, as each recruiter may have different preferences.

Recruiters play the match game. How quickly they can match your past work experience with the qualities and requirements of their current search assignment is key. A cover letter should explain who you are and why you are perfect for the job. It’s most important to highlight your skills and experiences so the reader can instantly consider you as a good match.

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