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How keeping an 'uncover' letter can help you in the future

Article Background

Are we missing a trick? One of the toughest parts of a recruiter’s job is to uncover what type of opportunity would be interesting to someone they have not spoken with previously. A recruiter sits there, pondering over a profile, and does their best to second-guess what ‘interesting’ might look like for that individual. When you think of all the time that goes into this crystal ball gazing – it’s counterproductive for everyone involved. If your dream job was in the market, would you want to receive a message letting you know that it is available? Of course you would (who wouldn’t?). Even if an actual move isn’t desirable right now, it is desirable to have customised channels in place for if/when the time comes to consider your options.

What is an uncover letter? Like its more conventional counterpart, the ‘uncover’ letter is a brief snapshot of your experience to date and interests moving forward. Unlike its elder sibling however, the purpose of the uncover letter is not to make an application, but rather to unearth what type of opportunity could be worth hearing about. Said otherwise: - Are you looking to move? Create a cover letter template. - Are you not looking to move? Create an uncover letter template. You can think of the uncover letter as an OOO for anything outside the purview of your career ideals. It is an easy template that you can copy, paste, and send all at once to interested agents. If you think that’s rude, I’d suggest depriving the exchange of worthwhile information as a much greater disservice for everybody involved.

Here are some of the benefits an uncover letter could offer you:

1. Less hassle You will be contacted less about options that could never interest you. Unlike a job board, there is no centralised ‘stop naff job alerts’ button you can hit for recruiters en masse. Being specific and prescriptive about what could interest you will at least remove the recruiter’s unnecessary guesswork and result in less speculative/repetitive messages or pointless follow-ups. Equally, being highly specific with what would interest sifts which recruiters are worth their salt (even if early in their recruiting career, these will remember and value your preferences) from those who are just chancing their arm.

2. Future competitive advantage If the time does come to explore opportunities, sharing your wish list months/years in advance could later provide you with access to unusual opportunities you just might not otherwise come across. The individual recruiters you responded to are just the very tip of the iceberg: think of those who updated their sophisticated CRMs with your wish list information, being read by their colleagues working on searches months/years later. And equally, those who may have moved to unsuspecting corners of the market/in-house who may remember you. The long-term advantage that sharing your career ideals could give your future self should not be understated: when your ideal opportunity is released, you could be at the forefront of an entire hivemind of recruiters.

3. Passive and tailored market intelligence Making your wish list known enables you to passively test the market. This will equip you with market intelligence for if/when the time does come to consider options more actively. Based on the volume of messages you receive, you would have an idea of how unusual an opportunity really is, hiring trends/sought characteristics and market rates.

4. Centralised management If/when your situation or wish list changes, you just need to search one ‘fingerprint’ phrase from your uncover letter in your LinkedIn inbox to pull up all of the messages from recruiters at once. This will enable you to deliver any relevant updates simultaneously.

5. Defining our own goals Perhaps most importantly, an uncover letter makes us all define exactly what type of opportunity really would be worth hearing about. Asking ourselves what opportunity really would be too good to miss is a derivative of ‘what do I really want to do?’. This is an especially important question for us to ask ourselves when we are happy and comfortable in our current positions (i.e., “not looking”), because it forces us to set the bar meaningfully higher than our current standing.

I’ve taken it upon myself to suggest an uncover template below, that you can quickly plug-in and personalise: Thank you for your message. I am not looking at opportunities right now. This said, I’ve put the following wish list together to define the parameters of future opportunities that I would be interested to know about. Please feel free to keep this information on file for future reference. For me, the ideal role resembles the following: - [Financial requirement] - [Location/working arrangement requirement] - [Any sector/industry requirements] - [Any team size/cultural requirements] - [Any technical/role consideration requirements] - [Any other unusual/specific requirements/flex points – be particular!] You’ll notice the above list is very prescriptive – this is deliberate. I’m very happy where I am, and I wouldn’t consider anything which didn’t resemble my ideal role. If you do see an opportunity that meaningfully speaks to the above criteria, please let me know and I’d be happy to consider. I will message you if my situation changes at all, but by all means, do feel free to check in again in [x] months’ time.

To share your wish list, or discuss specific opportunities in more detail, get in touch with Jay via