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Career Hacker: 3 principles for IT cover letters

September 09, 2014

While there is no such thing as a recipe for the perfect cover letter, there are some basic principles for cover letters IT employers respect and respond to.

To an employer, you are more than a skill set. TEKsystems’ research shows IT employers care as much about soft skills like communication and the ability to work in a team as hard ones. So while your technical skills and achievements should dominate your resume, your cover letter should showcase the business savvy, communication skills and personality traits that make you stand out. In short, it should offer a preview of the kind of well-rounded person a company wants to hire.

Understand IT’s relationship to business

The No. 1 trait IT leaders say IT employees lack? An understanding of how IT relates to business. Use your cover letter to subtly demonstrate that you get it. Read up a bit on the company and talk about how your work can support their broader goals.

Show you’re easy to work with

Employers don’t want to hire divas because nobody on staff wants to work with them. No matter how exceptional your skills may be, coming across as arrogant will hurt your chances of getting an interview. And while some of you IT pros have earned those healthy egos, it doesn’t mean you have to be difficult to work with. Aim for projecting relaxed confidence in your letter.

“Stalk” your employer

It’s OK to research the people hiring for your position; in fact, many employers respect it. In this day of LinkedIn and Internet-enhanced networking, you should be able to find out the name of person hiring your position. Even if you make an educated guess and get it wrong, the homework you did to address your letter to someone other than “Dear Hiring Manager” will impress a potential employer.

Bonus: A map of the basics

Missing the name of the position you’re applying for? You’d be surprised how many people overlook cover letter basics while trying to craft the perfect intro. Always include these basics:

  • Which job you’re applying for
  • A 3000-foot overview of your experience and skills (example:  “I possess eight years of experience in business process analysis and have top-notch project management skills.”)
  • Any contacts you have at the place you’re applying—if you found out about the job through a networking contact, mention that right away

Do you really need a cover letter to apply for IT jobs?

Think you might be able to skip the cover letter altogether? You might be right! Read our post Are IT cover letters necessary to find out if you’re a good candidate for applying without a cover letter.

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