Unless the ad gives you reason to do something else, the guts of your cover letter should consist of two columns: On the left side, list the job requirements stated in the ad; on the right side, describe how you meet that requirement.
— Recruiters/headhunters. Two ways to find on-target ones:
* Use an online database. An annotated list of them is at: The Riley Guide’s Recruiter Directory..
* Contact the human resources department at your most desired employers and ask, “When you use a headhunter to fill a position such as (insert your target job.”), who do you most often use?
— Direct contact. Make a list of 25 employers you’d like to work for, whether or not they’re advertising an on-target job opening. Identify one or more people at each organization with the power to hire you. Write a brief letter that highlights the elements of your background likely to impress that employer. Sample: “I’m a Ph.D. in psychology, with special expertise in issues faced by people in Generation Y. I am skilled at ethnographic research and in explaining complicated concepts to lay audiences. If you think I might be of help to you or if you’d be kind enough to offer some advice as to where I should turn, I’d really appreciate hearing from you.” Usually, your letter can be relatively generic, but you should include one customized paragraph explaining why you’re choosing to write to that employer.
— Networking. Make a list of the 50 people in your network most likely to introduce you to someone who could hire you for your target job. You say you don’t know 50? Remember that people from your alma mater(s,) your LinkedIn or Facebook contacts, your friends and relatives, even your hairdresser might help — they all know lots of people. Email or phone the 50, asking if they know someone at one of the above 25 employers who you should speak with, or anyone else for that matter, that might help you land your target job.