Cover Letters and Recruiters

When contacted by a recruiter for a specific opportunity, the following technique can differentiate you from other job seekers since you will be competing against other well-qualified candidates.

Here’s the scenario and how to gain a potential edge:

You have been contacted by a recruiter regarding a specific opportunity. You are interested and qualified and the recruiter is willing to submit your credentials to the employer. Ask the recruiter if there is a job description or job posting. If so, get it and read it. In the same conversation or a follow-up call, tell the recruiter that you are going to send a brief cover letter (by email) regarding the position. Most, if not all, recruiters will accept the letter. Ask the recruiter, at his or her discretion, to include the cover letter as a part of your submission to the employer. Here’s why: Many recruited candidates don’t bother with cover letters because they think a recruiter’s involvement makes a cover letter unnecessary. Differentiate yourself from your competition and showcase your accomplishments and qualifications by writing a cover letter (remember the word cloud technique, which could help). Employers will note that you took the time and effort to write the letter, and draw the conclusion that you must be more interested than some of the other candidates who did not. And when the letter gets read, you have differentiated yourself even more.

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Marketing Emails—Proactively Marketing Your Professional Credentials

Proactively marketing your professional credentials by email directly to hiring executives is an effective job-search technique that drives straight to the heart of the hidden job market. With reference to the Cover Letter Success Formula, write a compelling email cover letter.

Marketing emails essentially follow the identical formula for content as any other letter with some distinct differences that should be observed to increase effectiveness. These differences include:

Subject Line. Good use of the subject line is vital. It must be short and attention-getting. A poor subject line would read: “Accountant looking for work.” A good subject line would read: “#1 Provider Technology Sales Representative.”

A very good approach is using your Headline from your LinkedIn profile, and then modifying it as needed using your professional judgment.

Inside Address. This is a communication sent by email, not by the US Postal Service. Do not put an inside address in the email. A date is unnecessary as well.

Attaching a Resume. Here you have to make some decisions. Some companies have servers with robust firewalls that screen out all unfamiliar emails with an attachment. You can either send an attached resume or not. If your email that had a resume attached is returned with an undeliverable kickback, try again without the resume attached. Another consideration is your current employment status. If you are unemployed, it is recommended that you attach a copy of your resume. If you are currently employed, think through whether you want to provide a copy of your resume. You may decide to be selective and send a copy to some companies and not to others.

When it comes to attaching a resume, customize the name of the document. It should at least be your first and last name with a space between them e.g., John Smith.docx. A better approach would be your name plus a branding statement e.g., John Smith Lean Six Sigma. docx. Or, add a position type or function e.g., John Smith Senior Engineer.docx.

Close. Your close should be different due to the “reply” function with emails. It is recommended that you ask the recipient to act in response to the email. An example of a good close would be:

“If you have an interest or a need for a proven account manager with a documented track record of success, please reply or call me.”

Telephone Number. Always put your telephone number in your marketing emails. The hiring executive may want to bypass the reply button and speak to you directly. Give them a way to do so.

Cover Letters and Other Written Communications

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.

— Benjamin Franklin

Some employers focus on a cover letter, while others will bypass it and go straight to the resume. If the resume is strong, some employers will then go back and read the cover letter or cover email. Regardless of how an employer treats the letter, make sure you invest an appropriate amount of time writing a well-thought-out cover letter. A well-written cover letter immediately begins to differentiate you from other job seekers by highlighting strong points in your background and provides a sample of your writing ability. A well-written letter can also serve as a customizable template for different job opportunities.

Types of Cover Letters

In general, cover letters fall under three categories:

A letter of application is used to match a specific employment position.

A letter of inquiry is written (frequently to HR) when you are exploring whether the employer may have a possible open position within the company.

A marketing letter (or email) is written to quickly grab the hiring executive’s attention. The goal of this “attack” strategy is to showcase your qualifications and create enough interest so the hiring executive reads your resume and engages you in conversation. You are proactively marketing yourself directly to a potential hiring executive who could likely hire you for the position you seek.

The Cover Letter Success Formula

The kind of cover letter doesn’t matter: getting your cover letter read increases the odds that your resume will be read. Be concise. With your cover letter (as well as all your written communications), proofreading is mandatory. Executives are reading not only for content, but for sentence structure and how you express your thoughts. Spelling or grammar errors broadcast that you don’t pay attention to detail, or are careless. Have someone who’s unfamiliar with your letter read it. You could also let your writing sit overnight. Some claim that reading it backward helps. And when it comes time to send your letters, don’t send the same one to every executive. Having a template is fine, but customize each one. And don’t mention salary, compensation, or benefits in a cover letter.

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To maximize your effectiveness when writing cover letters, use the following approach, which has proven effective over the course of time:

• Create interest (first sentence)

• Match

• Showcase an accomplishment/qualification

• Provide additional information

• Close

Here’s an in-depth look at how to do this:

Create interest

You must quickly get the attention and interest of the employer. Personalizing the letter with their name (found by searching LinkedIn or the company website, or calling the company) will go a long way. Adding a “RE:” line (meaning “regarding”) lets the executive know what your letter is about and the position you’re interested in. Generating interest increases the time the executive will spend on your letter. All too often, people do the opposite by beginning their letters with something similar to:

I am writing you today regarding any potential need you may have for a director of operations. I believe I have the qualifications you are looking for.

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Provide additional information

In the following paragraphs of the letter, elaborate on your experience, skills, background, and achievements. This is where you have a fair amount of latitude on what you want to showcase. Choose those topics you feel are the most relevant or impressive to the employer. Once again, inform the employer what you did, in addition to how this produced positive results.

I am a motivated sales professional with a positive track record of opening new territories. At Ins. Company, I took over a three-state, virgin territory with no sales or business contacts. I researched and identified broker-dealers, set appointments, traveled, and made sales presentations. Within the first year, I generated over $1.2M in product and exceeded sales goals by over 300 percent.

Another approach is to add a strong recommendation. This paragraph should be indented and single-spaced. To realize this technique’s full impact, identify the person providing the recommendation by name and title. Here’s an example:

My supervisor, Susan J. Smith, Director of Operations, Cyban, Inc. states: Sandra has a strong work ethic. She is organized, resourceful, and can work successfully without supervision. She is flexible and will roll up her sleeves to get the job done!

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Remember, it is always more influential when others speak well of you than when you promote yourself.

Another technique you can use in this section is to reveal a professional insight about yourself to personalize the letter. It must be something relevant or important to the employer. This paragraph can start with a phrase such as: “I am passionate about . . . ”, “I am professionally rewarded when . . . ”, “I continue to be intrigued by . . . ”, and so on. For example:

I am passionate about wellness. I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that the wellness services I promote to clients will have a personal impact on the health and well-being of that employer’s employees.

You may choose to add some information about your personal life that could have relevance to the job. Some hiring executives occasionally want to know about you as a person as well as a professional.

I am competitive professionally as well as in my personal life. In fact, I routinely compete in local tennis tournaments . . . successfully I might add!

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Use these paragraphs to inform the employer about any other piece of information relevant to your job search, such as relocation.

I will relocate to Portland in the next sixty days as a result of my wife’s promotion.


Conclude your letter by using a brief closing statement, followed by your intention to follow up:

Based on my track record of successful operational efficiency, I believe I have the qualifications and accomplishments to make a positive impact on ABC Inc. I look forward to discussing this opportunity with you and I will contact your office next week.