Cover Letter: What Recruiters Look For

Cover letters are one of the requirements recruiters request from applicants while sending in their applications. These cover letters in addition to the CVs or resume they receive, enable the recruiters make their initial assessment on whether or not to shortlist an application. 

Many times, some make mistakes while writing a cover letter, not considering those key
elements recruiters look for to help their initial judgement. See more in the article below on what recruiters expect from the cover letters you write...culled via Devex

" Writing a cover letter is often one of the more daunting aspects of a job hunt. You’ll find yourself asking questions like: What do I include? What do recruiters want to see? Does anyone ever read them?

Most recruiters I speak with do read cover letters, but only after looking at a CV they think is a good fit. They want to make sure you meet the qualifications before spending the extra time. So what is it they hope to learn from a cover letter that isn’t already in your resume? Here are six things recruiters and hiring managers want to learn about you in a cover letter, and how you can make sure yours stands out.

1. How you communicate
There are few jobs in international development that do not require strong communication skills, so recruiters often look to a cover letter to get a sense of a candidate’s skills in this area, as well as writing style.  
The cover letter may also be used to gauge language skills, particularly if English — or the language you application is submitted in — is a second language for you.
You want to make sure you proofread to avoid any grammatical or spelling errors as well as make sure the content is concise.

2. How motivated you are about the position and employer
A major complaint I hear from recruiters about cover letters is that candidates don’t take the time to tailor them to a specific position. A generic cover letter can actually do you more harm than good as it gives the impression that you just don’t care.
Plugging in the organization’s name and the job’s title into a template isn’t enough. Recruiters want to see why you are interested in them and this opportunity and why exactly you are a strong candidate for this role.

Don’t make it all about you, either. Recruiters will not be impressed that you have been unemployed for six months and need to pay rent or that working with them will help position you for your real dream job down the line. What motivates you should also be something that brings the prospective employer value, such as closely identifying with the mission.
Tailoring your cover letter not only helps you better sell your skills for the position, but it also shows that you are someone who will go beyond the minimum requirements to deliver a strong work product.

3. Your soft skills or experiences not easily shown in a CV
Soft skills are extremely important to most international development positions. But it can be hard to show these in a CV format that focuses on job titles, education and more quantitative figures.
A cover letter can be a better format to showcase some of the soft skills you have developed over your career. However, recruiters don’t just want to read a list of buzzwords like detail-oriented, team player or self-starter. Instead, provide examples of how you have successfully applied these attributes in similar situations to the job opportunity.

4. Your availability and logistics
A cover letter is a good place to get any of the logistical hurdles out of the way. Are you applying to a job in a different city than where you reside? Let the recruiter know what dates you plan to move or when you may be in town and available to interview.
Will the position require you to relocate overseas within a short time frame? Confirm that you are available to do so. Also, make sure to include your contact details even if they are already on your resume. Sometimes documents get separated from one another and again, it can convey attention to detail.

5. Name of referral or how you heard about the job
Recruiters often like to know how you heard about the job, particularly if it came through a referral. A quick note about where you saw the position or who referred you can be helpful to a recruiter who is trying to track where they get their leads. Being helpful to a recruiter never hurts, and if you are applying from a referral, using their name will likely get your application extra attention.

6. Do you understand what the job needs?
Perhaps the most important piece of information a recruiter wants to learn from a cover letter is if you truly understand the organization and job needs and why you are the person who can help meet those needs.
What is it this job will accomplish and how are you the right candidate to make it happen?
Make sure you read the job description and required qualifications carefully. Focus your letter on your skills and experience that matches the key requirements of the position. Including details not related to the job will distract the recruiter and may give the impression that you don’t really understand their work (or that you didn’t read the job ad close enough)".

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