5 Candidate Cover Letter Strategies That Rock

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Dec 16, 2011

Creating a compelling cover letter that will highlight your candidate’s expertise and entice hiring managers to make contact for an interview is a skill that every good recruiter must have. I have several close colleagues who are recruiters; they continuously ask me for advice on how to create really compelling cover letters. I thought I would share some of the strategies that have proven most effective when crafting a compelling cover for candidate submittals.

  1. Keep it short and sweet: While it may be tempting to provide a lot of detail to illustrate your candidate’s skills, hiring managers are a busy bunch. They want the nuts and bolts. Review your job order and provide only as much detail as is necessary to prove your candidate is interview-worthy.
  2. Proofread your note: While you will most likely be sending your cover letter via email, which is a relatively informal platform, it is still imperative that you use good sentence structure, capitalization, spelling, and punctuation. All of your interactions, whether they are on- or off-line should be handled with care. No errors! They will wonder if your candidate is really all that and a bag of chips if you can’t even take the time to submit a cover note that is error free.
  3. Focus on accomplishments: Spend time covering both specific skills as well as your candidate’s impressive record of achievement and professional results. Highlight revenue generating accomplishments, leadership, corporate or departmental growth, and other key factors. Immediately let the hiring manager know what a valuable asset your candidate is. Use a few bullets here for readability.
  4. Discuss the fit: Address the reasons why the candidate is a good fit for the company. If the candidate has certain soft skills that blend well with the corporate culture, include these in your comments. Bring the candidate’s personality to life. Let the hiring manager know you are particularly impressed with the candidate’s business acumen or personal style.
  5. Ask for the sale: Suggest that you would like to set up a time to have the two of them speak. Express your feelings about the potential fit and include the candidate’s availability for interviews. This is a call to action. Without it, your cover letter is not truly complete.

Below is a cover letter that has been adapted for use in the recruiting process. It is a targeted version of the initial cover letter created for use by the candidate in a direct submittal.

Hiring Manager Name

Hiring Manager Title

Re: Joe Smith

Joe Smith is a C-Level biotechnology sales and marketing executive. He has 12+ years’ experience in operations and team leadership with a proven history of success closing large deals in the $4M+ range. The average sales cycle he is accustomed to is approximately 6 months. Joe holds an MBA from ZYZ University.

  • Joe played a key role in raising considerable VC that allowed his current company to soar from 0 to $280M in 3 years.
  • He grew his previous firm, XYZ Corporation, by $38M as EVP.
  • Joe was recognized by CHIBiz magazine as one of Chicago’s top 30 most influential people in healthcare.

Joe has outstanding interpersonal skills. I found him to be a solid communicator with strong subject matter expertise. I feel strongly that Joe is good potential fit for ABC Corporation. His stellar history of quota achievement combined with his leadership strength is quite impressive.

Joe is available for interview in the AM before 9 ET or after 4 PM ET Monday-Friday. Please let me know what time would be good for the two of you to speak. I can be reached at 555-555-5555 or via email at for next steps.


Recruiter Name

Recruiter Company
Recruiter Contact Info

Notice that we start by focusing on the fact that Joe meets the criteria for the role, then we provide a brief list of bulleted accomplishments. Next we discuss Joe’s soft skills; and finally we close with a call to action by asking for the interview. The cover letter is concise and to the point. It has no errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

By following this recipe when you create cover letters for your submittals, you will improve your odds of getting send outs — and ultimately, making placements.

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