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How to Write a Cover Letter to a Recruiter

Getting a recruiter's attentionWriting a cover letter to an employer is a lot different from writing one to a recruiter. You want to grab the reader's attention in both, but the type of information you include can vary greatly.

But wait—what are recruiters and what do they do?

  • Recruiters work for the employer (aka, the client), not for you (the job seeker).
  • Most recruiters specialize in placing a certain category of jobs (e.g., accountants, engineers, etc.)
  • Employers hire the recruiters to screen job seekers for certain positions and present only the candidates who match the job criteria. If the recruiter's candidate gets hired, the client pays the recruiter a commission.
  • By sending your resume and cover letter to a recruiter, you (job seeker) are trying to help the recruiter understand what you can do, what you are qualified for, and which job criteria you could fulfill so they will present you to their client-employers when an appropriate opening becomes available.

So, a well written cover letter that details your background and job goals can give you a huge advantage over other applicants who fail to submit one.

Here's a chart to help identify the differences between a letter addressed directly to an employer, and a letter to a recruiter:

  Cover Letter to Employer Cover Letter to Recruiter
Greeting The employer's name and full address The recruiter's name and full address
Opening Describe how you found out about the position and what you know about the company Tell them what you currently do for work and why you're looking for a new job
Body Discuss your skills and accomplishments and how they will benefit the company Briefly discuss your background and how your skills and accomplishments could benefit the recruiter's client(s)
Closing Tell them that you'll be in touch to schedule an interview and thank them for their time List the kinds of industries and position(s) you're looking for, salary history and expectations, and when you can start a new job

The point of taking the time to write a cover letter to a recruiter is to make it easy for them to pitch your case to clients and find a position that works for you. You would rarely, if ever, include salary expectations in a standard cover letter, but you'd be a fool not to include them when you write to a recruiter. Think about what the recruiter needs to know (ask them if you must), and don't forget to attach your resume!

Have you had any luck finding a job through a recruiter?

RELATED LINKS
3 Tips to Avoid a Boring, Self-Absorbed Cover Letter
6 Reasons You Won't Get Hired Without a Cover Letter

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