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Cover letters to recruiters
By KIM ISAACS Monster Resume Expert
In the world of recruiters and execu-
tive search fi rms, resumes rule. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore or forgo sending cover letters.
“If a candidate’s resume is a good fi t
to what I’m looking for, then I’m going to take a look at the cover letter,” says Dan Anderson, a partner in St. Paul- based executive search and recruitment services fi rm C. Anderson & Associates. At Anderson’s fi rm, both the resume and cover letter are fi led for future reference.
your cover letter approach So what do recruiters look for in a
cover letter? It depends on which of these three scenarios with which you’re dealing:
Ad-response cover letters: If a search
fi rm is handling a job opening, gear your cover letter to the ad’s desired qualifi ca- tions.
“Let’s say I’m reviewing responses to
a Monster posting,” says Anderson. “If the candidate has taken the time to tailor the cover letter and bring out how their background meets the qualifi cations I want, my impression is going to be that they’re a sharp individual.
“One of the best cover letters I ever
saw was written by a gentleman who took each point from the ad require- ments section and answered every single one with a precise summary of how he fi t my client’s needs,” he adds. “When I read it, I thought, ‘Finally! Somebody answered the question.’”
Referral cover letters: “I always read a cover letter if it begins with something
Your situation dictates
like ‘You worked with my friend so-and- so on a recent search, and he told me about your service,’” says Anderson. “If you’ve been referred to me by a source, this should be mentioned in the fi rst line of your cover letter.”
Cold cover letters: These accompany
unsolicited resumes. Recruiters receive dozens of these on any given day, so be brief. “Think ‘meat and potatoes’ in terms of communicating only your top qualifi cations, and eliminate any addi- tional fl uff,” says Diane Oates, founder and director of Corporate Diversity Search, a Webster, New York, fi rm that places women and minorities in Fortune 500 companies. Anderson adds that for this kind of cover letter, it’s also a good idea to tell the recruiter your salary re- quirements, your target position and industry, and your availability for reloca- tion or travel.
ters Regardless of what kind of letter
Eight rules for cover let-
you’re writing, use this advice from re- cruiters to guide your efforts and maxi- mize your chances for success:
Remember your purpose: “Candidates
need to ask themselves why they’re writ- ing to the recruiter in the fi rst place,” An- derson says. “Are you answering an ad? Introducing yourself? Or just spamming some generic letter out, which is never going to be very effective.”
Be brief: “Brevity is extremely impor- tant on any cover letter to a recruiter,” says Anderson, who prefers cover letters be a half-page or shorter.
Narrow your focus: When replying to
an advertised opening, your cover let- ter will focus on a specifi c opportunity.
But when writing a referral or cold cover letter, many candidates are too broad in their job targets. “Don’t try to make yourself all things to all people in your cover letter,” Anderson advises. “As a recruiter, I’m looking for specialists with certain sets of expertise, not gen- eralists.”
Set realistic goals: Don’t
use the cover letter to try to secure a position several steps above your current level. “Recruiters can only place people into positions that are the next logical step for them,” Anderson explains.
Emphasize your main
selling points: “I like to see cover letters that profi le a candidate’s top qualifi ca- tions,” says Oates. “Wheth- er that’s a high GPA, a unique skill set or a strong record of professional ad- vancement, write it down.”
Explain unemployment or gaps in
your work history: Otherwise-qualifi ed candidates who don’t articulate good reasons for being out of a job or for a gap in their employment run a high risk of being screened out.
Never overstate your qualifi cations:
Oates advises candidates to avoid exag- gerating qualifi cations in order to be seen as a perfect match to an advertised opening. “Your cover letter, like your re- sume, should be completely truthful and accurate,” Oates says. “Never falsify or misrepresent your background.”
Follow the rules of business writing: “I
like to see coherency, fl uid sentences and concise writing,” Anderson says. “Leave out the fl owery language and generic descriptions, don’t include personal de- tails like your marital status, don’t forget to include your contact information and of course, make sure you spell-check.” Consult business-writing references for guidance.
Copyright 2012 - Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster Worldwide. This article fi rst appeared on Monster, the leading online global network for careers. To see other career-related articles, visit: http://career- advice.monster.com
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