Posted by Jane Irene Kelly on Thursday, June 30, 2016 - 08:00
Dear IT professionals:
You may feel like a rock star (and you kind of are!). But if you don’t mind, we’d like to take a moment to draw your attention to a topic that might be a little less exciting, but potentially very important to your career: the cover letter.
We realize there’s a good chance you haven’t written a cover letter in quite some time (or ever?). That’s OK. In our world of digital job applications, there’s often little or no room to include a cover letter. And if an employer reached out to you on LinkedIn, interviewed you on the spot at a hackathon, or snapped you up following an internship, there may not have been a need to even write one.
In the past, if a cover letter did not accompany your resume, most hiring managers would be aghast. In fact, it would likely mean a one-way ticket to File 13 for your resume — and no chance of an interview for you. Lack of a cover letter may not spell instant doom for a tech job seeker today, but we suggest you still take the time to craft one and present it to an employer when you have the opportunity. Here are three very good reasons to do so:
1. While technical abilities can take the cake, communication skills are the buttercream icing and rainbow sprinkles that can make employers swoon.
Seriously: Communication skills are really key for many employers. We recently asked more than 2,500 CIOs in 25 metropolitan markets this question: “In which one of the following areas would you say today’s technology professionals could use the most improvement?” The number-one answer? Communication abilities — including writing skills.
Now, just think of the positive impression you would make on a hiring manager by presenting a flawless and engaging cover letter. It’s like saying: “Look at me: I know all of these programming languages and I have a command of the language. What more do you need?”
2. A cover letter is like open mic night — an opportunity to showcase your unique talents and turn a hiring manager into your biggest fan.
Keep in mind, while the job market for IT is hot, that doesn’t mean employers aren’t discerning about who they hire. One of the things many hiring managers look for specifically is the value that a professional has delivered to previous employers.
Busy hiring managers are likely to dive right into your resume to confirm you have the qualifications for the job before even glancing at your cover letter. But then, many will want to dig deeper to get a sense of what you’ve achieved in your career to date — aside from job titles, skill sets and certifications.
A cover letter provides the space to tell a succinct and compelling story of how you have made a real impact when working for previous employers. It adds color and dimension to the facts outlined in your resume, and can draw in hiring managers and make them want to learn more about you.
3. It can seem like the hiring process is only about you, but employers really want to know why you want to work for them.
When you’re an in-demand tech professional, it’s easy to feel like the center of attention. As noted earlier, highly skilled candidates often find employers competing fiercely to hire them in the current market. But deep down, every hiring manager still wants to understand why you want to join their organization. They realize you have options. So they are eager to know why you’re interested in them specifically, which may indicate you’d be more likely to stay with the company for the long term.
You can explain all of this in the cover letter. You can express your passion for what you do and why you want to bring your talents to the organization. You can demonstrate your knowledge of the company, and explain why you believe you’d be a good fit for their culture. You can help the employer visualize your future at their company, while also making them feel like a rock star.
A well-crafted cover letter can make a difference in your job search. It shows you can communicate effectively. It provides insight into how you can add value to an organization. And it’s an opportunity to explain why a hiring manager should feel confident about investing in you. What you say in your cover letter might even be the deciding factor when an employer needs to choose between you and another equally skilled candidate.
So, while the cover letter may not be a necessity for every job application, sending one can be a smart decision. Of course, if an employer says not to include a cover letter, don’t. But otherwise, take the time to draft a unique cover letter for every job application. Chances are you’ll make a terrific impression.
Thank you for considering our recommendations.
Robert Half Technology
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