By Phil Baker,
The rules about writing cover letters to employment recruiters or headhunters are not the same as the rules for writing to employers about posted job openings. In fact, some of the rules for this are completely contrary to everything else you have heard about cover letters.
One difference is the cover letters for employers should focus on specifics to the posted job openings. When contacting recruiters, you need to show you have the right marketable skills for them to sell you. Recruiters want to know what skills and experience you have that they can sell to their clients. What that means is the information you include, and even the style you choose for this document will be very different from what you would do when writing to a potential employer.
The first consideration is whether you even need to include a cover letter with the resume you send to a headhunter. The answer is yes. While your resume might speak the loudest about your qualifications, if a recruiter becomes interested in you, there is specific information beyond what is in your resume that he or she needs to know to market you. Highlight the most marketable skills you have. Don’t worry about the length of your letter. While cover letters to employers should be short and to the point, you can expound on your qualifications for a recruiter.
In addition, recruiters need to know such things as: who you are (with a brief, introductory paragraph), why you are contacting them, and what industries and/or jobs you are interested in. If applicable, pick five or so job titles in your field for which you are qualified. If your career title is very limited such as an x-ray technician this might not apply. Be aware that some recruiters only work within a particular industry, so you may consider contacting more than one in order to increase your chances of finding employment.
Let the recruiter know your current location, regular current schedule, how much notice you need in order to travel to an interview out the area, and how much notice you will need to be available to begin a new job. Tell them whether or not you are willing to travel or even relocate.
Other information you may decide to include is salary history or requirements (which is not recommended in direct contact with employers.) If you do mention your salary requirements make it a range and not a specific number. The bottom of your desired salary range should take into consideration the cost of relocating and cost of living in the area of the job. In some industries employers will pay or reimburse relocation expenses. You can also include a line requesting confidentiality from the recruiter about not contacting your present employer or revealing your salary requirements.
One other way you can use your letter to help get the attention of a recruiter is to include relevant keywords. Like employers, many recruiters use keyword finding software to determine which resumes they will review. Appropriate keywords can be found in employment ads within your industry. Include links to any publications you have written on the web or articles and press releases about you. If you are sending hard copies include print outs of the above. Also include your professional twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook pages.
When contacting recruiters you should commit as much effort into your communications as you would if you were contacting a potential employer directly. Your resume may be impressive but if your cover letters are poorly crafted, or something you obviously didn’t spend much time on, your chances of the recruiter believing in you go down. Recruiters want good products, in this case people, to sell.
Hyoâ€™s Note â€“ Not only is Phil the creator of the OneClick Cover Letter Creator SoftwareÂ ProgramÂ (a ridiculous easy to use, yet effective software that creates cover letters tailored to your needs) which you can visit here, or you can read my review of it here, but he also has a tremendous website, www.ResumeDictionary.com.Â Resume DictionaryÂ might just be the best, free resume resource site out there – jammed with great information and tips on getting your resume water tight and rocking.Â