With the rise of online applications and automated screening systems, many candidates wonder if cover letters are still effective in landing jobs.
Are these traditional documents still worth the time and effort when applying for a job? The answer is yes. A carefully crafted cover letter can address employers’ concerns by immediately showcasing relevant skills, experiences, and a genuine passion for the IT industry.
In this article, we delve into the effectiveness of cover letters, exploring their potential benefits, and provide a step-by-step guide on how you can craft an impactful cover letter.
Do Cover Letters Make a Difference?
You may have come across several opinions about how recruiters may be too busy or unmotivated to read your cover letter, so you should just focus on making a solid resume. While it’s true that some employers may not explicitly require or place much emphasis on cover letters, others still consider them as a valuable tool for assessing a candidate’s suitability for the role.
According to a recent survey by ResumeLab, 83 percent of hiring managers, recruiters, and HR staff still consider cover letters important in decision-making, and 72 percent of them still expect cover letters even if the job posting shows they’re optional.¹
A good cover letter can compensate for any deficiencies in your resume, such as an employment gap. Although your resume sums up your skills and experience, a cover letter explains why you’re a good fit or why your work history seems more suited for a specific role.
Ultimately, it serves as a persuasive argument that appeals to the person making the hiring decision.
How to Write a Winning Cover Letter
Cover letters capture and hold an employer’s attention. It’s a compelling message that enforces a resume, elevating your skills and experiences. If this sounds like what you want to achieve, here are eight practical cover letter tips you can apply:
1. Follow a professional format.
Begin with your contact information and add your name, address, phone number, and email at the top of the letter, followed by the employer’s organization name and date. Proceed with a formal salutation, like: “Dear Hiring Manager,” or use their name if available.
2. Engage the reader with a solid opening paragraph.
The first few sentences are either strong enough to either tickle the reader’s interest or fail to keep them reading on.
You should start your cover letter by selling yourself, showing enthusiasm for the position, or addressing a particular pain point in the job posting.
Remember, the goal is to mention the things relevant to what the employer is seeking. Even if it’s tempting to bombard your letter with so many achievements, consider saving that for the last part.
3. Showcase what makes you tick.
This includes relevant skills and experiences. Employers have many applications to review, and they just want to know if you can do the job efficiently.
As much as you can, be specific and concise. Be sure to explain that your experience and skills align with the job description. Let the reader know what you can do and how long it takes you to deliver primary tasks.
4. Customize each application.
Avoid using the same cover letter for every one of your job applications. Remember that different employers have unique needs and requirements, so try to create a cover letter that speaks to what each employer wants.
One way to achieve this is by reviewing the job ad thoroughly. In most cases, you may need to read more than once to understand what’s required. After reviewing the content of the job posting to satisfaction, be sure to use specific keywords and phrases from it to emphasize your suitability for the position.
5. Provide links to your previous work.
The only way to prove to potential employers that you’re a suitable fit is to provide samples of your previous work. Ideally, your cover letter should be around two to three short paragraphs. Providing at least two sample links or a link to your portfolio should be enough.
6. Proofread and edit.
Communication is still a precious skill that many employers look for. Try your best to avoid any spelling or grammatical errors in your cover letter by proofreading it thoroughly. You can also use tools like grammar and spell-checking software or ask a trusted friend or mentor to review your letter before sending it.
7. Express your interest.
Conclude your cover letter by expressing your eagerness to discuss the opportunity further in an interview. Indicate your availability for a conversation or meeting and provide your contact information again.
Also, don’t forget to thank the reader for their time and consideration.
8. Ensure your presentation is spot on.
Use a professional font and format for your cover letters, such as Times New Roman or Arial, with an 11 or 12-point font size. Keep the layout clean and visually appealing, using bullet points or headings to improve readability.
The Don’ts of Writing a Your IT Cover Letter
Now that you know what to do, here are a few things to be wary of if you want to make a good first impression:
Don’t repeat your resume.
Your cover letter should complement your resume rather than duplicate the information. Avoid repeating the exact details provided in your resume. Instead, focus on elaborating on key points and providing additional context.
Don’t make it too long.
Keep your cover letter concise and straightforward. Ideally, it should be just one page. Avoid including unnecessary information or going into excessive detail. Be selective in what you include and prioritize the most relevant qualifications and experiences.
Don’t focus solely on your needs.
While explaining why you’re interested in the position is essential, avoid focusing solely on what you can gain from the job. Instead, emphasize how your skills and experiences align with the company’s goals and how you can contribute to their success.
Don’t forget to follow the instructions.
Pay close attention to the job posting or application instructions and follow them carefully. Some employers may request specific information or require you to submit the cover letter in a certain format. Failing to follow instructions gives a negative impression.
Don’t include irrelevant information.
Stick to relevant information directly related to the job you’re applying for. Avoid including personal details, unrelated experiences, or irrelevant hobbies unless they are directly applicable to the position.
Don’t sound desperate or too self-assured.
Strike a balance between confidence and humility in your cover letter. Avoid sounding desperate for the job or overly self-assured. Show enthusiasm and confidence in your abilities without coming across as arrogant.
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1. Ang, Jerene. “Are cover letters important? 83% of recruiters say yes.” Human Resources Online, 13 May, 2020, www.humanresourcesonline.net/are-cover-letters-important-83-of-recruiters-say-yes