This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Diane writes: I would like to send my resume with a cover letter to recruiters/employment agencies. The career development office I’m working with advises that it is better to have someone’s name to address the cover letter to. Since it would require a great deal of time to try and get a staff member’s name for each agency, would it be acceptable to use a generic salutation, such as Dear Recruiter?
The Career Doctor responds: The rules of cover-letter writing are a bit different when writing letters to headhunters than when writing letters to employers, but the one rule of all cover letter writing is that the job-seeker must — as best as possible — address the letters to named individuals. Think about it, when was the last time you read (junk mail) addressed to “Dear Homeowner” or “Dear Pet Owner.” If you don’t read these kinds of letters, why should busy professionals? Job-seekers must always take the time to get names and titles for cover letters. Before I get to the differences in content, let me also address one other red flag in your question. Why would you be sending off so many letters to recruiters? Take the time to research the recruiting agencies that specialize in your field and in your preferred location — and contact only those recruiters. Don’t waste your time — and the time of those recruiters — by writing to recruiters who don’t work in your area. One other comment about strategy. The majority of recruiters say that the resume is the single most important document they look at when evaluating job-seekers; cover letters are a distant second. The message here? Make sure your resume is exceptional. Your cover letter to a recruiter should focus on these elements: