Recruitment agencies require special modifications to cover letters submitted by career search candidates.
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Recruitment agencies require special modifications to cover letters submitted by career search candidates.

Recruitment agency personnel don’t spend much time looking at cover letters submitted by career search candidates. In fact many headhunters don’t bother reading them at all, according to recruitment experts. So why do you need to pay attention to the cover letters you send to headhunters as part of your career search? Because when they are looked at, a good cover letter can make all the difference.

Recruitment agencies receive hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes and cover letters every day from career search candidates. This enormous amount of correspondence is the reason why many headhunters don’t even look at cover letters. They expect to be able to assess the candidate’s potential fit for their employment opportunities just from the resume. But, if they think you are qualified, they will then go to the cover letter for more information.

Recruitment firms will read your cover letters if your career search qualifications match their employment openings, so you need to know how to format it correctly!

In fact, if you are qualified for opening that the recruitment agent is currently working to fill, the content of your cover letter needs to provide specific career search information that will help the headhunter sell you to their client. This employment information is usually very different from what would go on a cover letter to an employer. Most executive search firms and recruiting agencies will specifically list what information should be included, but at the least you should include:

  • All your contact information (same for all types of cover letters)
  • Why you are looking for a new job (usually not in a conventional letter)
  • Types of employment you want (conventional letters should list the exact position you’re applying for)
  • Salary information – current and desired (never in a conventional letter)
  • Relocation and travel expectations (can be in all letters)
  • Employment accomplishments stuffed with keywords (but nothing that is not on your resume already)

Besides including special information for the recruitment firm, your cover letter also requires different formatting compared to other career search letters. A letter to your headhunter should be shorter than normal, usually half to a third of a page only; you should be able to read it all on a computer screen without having to scroll down. Also, you should use all bullets, no paragraphs. This will help keep your letter very concise, which executive search firms love to see given their heavy workload. Lastly, don’t forget to double-check your letter for typos and grammar mistakes.

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