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April 18, 2013
By TEKsystems

Writing a cover letter can be nerve-wracking. On one hand, these professional documents can't be too bland and generic, but they also have to be businesslike. It can be difficult to strike a perfect balance when it comes to not being too familiar while also not putting the reader to sleep. While some IT job hopefuls likely feel that preparing a cover letter is a waste of time, this certainly isn't the case. A strong one can be the difference between getting called in for an interview and a resume winding up in the rejection pile. In order to maximize their chances for success, aspirants should heed a few simple rules when applying for their dream job in the IT industry.

Don't skip it
One of the most important pieces of advice for IT job seekers is to never leave out a cover letter, CIO Magazine noted. Unless a potential employer specifically says not to send one, always include this document in your application. Many executives receive enough resumes that they all blur into one, but a solid cover letter will stand out from the crowd.

Make it unique
When individuals are actively looking to make their next major IT career move, it's likely they'll end up writing a lot of cover letters. At first, it may seem okay to send out the same document to every company with the identifying information changed, as the job descriptions being applied for may be quite similar. CIO Magazine pointed out that doing this is likely to reflect poorly on applicants. Instead, every one of these letters should be crafted for the specific position and company it pertains to. 

Plus, opting not to use a form letter can help avoid any awkward blunders they may result from excessive cutting and pasting. No one wants to suffer the embarrassment of calling a potential boss by the wrong name or confusing his organization with a competitor's.

Do enough homework
Tech news provider Dice advised that IT job seekers should do their research before putting together a cover letter. This document should contain details that indicate the applicant has gained at least an introductory level of knowledge about the organization they're trying to join, and this includes knowing the hiring manager's name. The source suggested that finding this information not only makes the piece itself more unique, but it shows that a professional is interested enough in the position to do more work than simply read a listing. Attention to detail is crucial in the IT industry, and a cover letter is an excellent venue to show you have it.

Go beyond technical skills
It's important that potential employers know what systems an IT expert is most adept at using, the coding languages he or she knows and the individual's history of successfully completing projects. It's also critical that those in the tech industry don't focus so heavily on these skills that they forget to mention the qualities that make them human. As Dice explained, a great IT cover letter fleshes out both technical and soft skills. Managers want to hire workers who communicate well with teammates, shine in brainstorming sessions and will be enjoyable to talk to before they've had their coffee. A resume can't show what a person will really be like to work with, or what truly drives their ability to excel. 

Get assistance
Another strong option for applicants is to get in touch with an IT staffing firm. Recruiters may be able to offer advice about how to make cover letters stand out in addition to improving other aspects of a tech expert's application materials. Plus, it's never a bad idea to be part of a network of industry organizations looking to find new talent.

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