Three Ways to Get a Recruiter's Attention in a Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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Recruiters often spend their days flipping through dozens or even hundreds of resumes from qualified candidates. Catching their attention is essential if you want to be called for an interview. You cover letter is the first thing a recruiter sees, so use these techniques to make yours stand out from the rest.

Nothing turns off a recruiter like a generic cover letter, so tailor yours to the organization to show the recruiter that you have done your homework. Know the organization's major services, divisions, history and accomplishments, and weave some of this information into your dialog. Include some appropriate flattery when explaining why you want to work for the organization to convey that you value it. Business Insider adds that matching the tone and font of the organization within your cover letter is a resume technique that makes you look like a natural fit for the company.

Add some character to your cover letter by utilizing strong keywords in your descriptions and qualifications. Some eye-catching keywords that refer to skills include "wrote," "analyzed," "created," "planned," "taught," "designed" and "trained." Other keywords that refer to results and accomplishments include words like "upgraded," "increased," "initiated," "reduced" and "generated." If you have been recognized in the past for outstanding work, use words like "awarded," "selected," "promoted," "recognized" and "chosen." Each of these keywords instantly conveys to the recruiter what your qualifications are and helps to create a strong, readable cover letter. In addition, use active voice instead of passive voice as much as possible to keep your descriptions engaging and interesting. For instance, instead of saying "important new policies were planned with my assistance," say "I helped to plan important new policies."

Placing a testimonial in your cover letter is another great way to capture a recruiter's attention while adding credibility. Look for positive feedback on past performance evaluations, thank you letters from clients or recommendation letters from former employers, and place short excerpts in the body of your cover letter or in a separate block alongside the body. If you don't have any testimonials, placing the name of a mutual contact in your first few lines is another way to add credibility. For instance, you might say that the mutual contact referred you to the opening or has said positive things about the organization.

Follow these resume techniques, and keep your cover letter short and simple while adding some unique touches to create a resume intro that catches a recruiter's eye. Try to find a balance between boring templates and wild colors to make your cover letter visually interesting without looking sloppy. When you finish, make sure your cover letter is printed with the same ink and paper as your resume to give it a professional look.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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