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What Recruiters Look For in a Cover Letter

What Recruiters Look For in a Cover Letter

By Louise Garver


Capturing the attention of a recruiter with your cover letter is challenging to say the least. It is common knowledge that cover letters need to be customized for each position. But what details do recruiters really want to read in a cover letter? What format do they like best?


A cover letter should indicate that you are familiar with the company, and/or job, and show how you would be a great fit. Include some relevant industry news, or recent product launches to show that you are interested and follow industry trends. Recruiters want to know that you are paying attention to their needs (not yours), and that you fulfill their criteria.


Recruiters don’t want to take a lot of time to pour over lengthy dense paragraphs to extract information. Keep paragraphs short and details concise. Let the resume shine with more facts and save in-depth details for the interview.


You may be in a hurry to submit your resume and cover letter for a listed position, or just too busy to re-read your documents, but those few extra minutes could save you from quick elimination. It is critical to proof any written materials that you submit for a potential job. While some think that auto-correct is a wonderful feature in a program, it can auto-correct you right into the round file by mistaking typing errors for words that aren’t appropriate.


Some people think that an “out-of-the-box” cover letter will get more attention. And in a few instances that may be true—let’s say if you are a marketing executive and want to show your creative side. Generally though, at the executive level, recruiters want to read professionally written cover letters. They see this as an extension of how you communicate and helps them evaluate your potential with the hiring company.

Match experience

Recruiters play the match game. How quickly they can match your past work experience with the qualities and requirements of their current search assignment is key. It’s most important in the cover letter to highlight those skills and experiences so the reader can instantly consider you as a good match.

A cover letter should explain who you are and why you are perfect for the job. Period. A crisp professionally written cover letter can do that for you.