A cover letter may seem old-fashioned in a world of applicant tracking systems, online applications and skills-based resumes. Some firms with tech jobs may appreciate the extra time you take to compose a letter to introduce yourself, but others may feel as if letters are a waste of time. Here are three ways to know whether you need to include a cover letter with your application.
1. Read the Instructions
The instructions for the job application may specifically request no cover letter whatsoever. If that's the case, you might disqualify yourself from the job right away because the hiring manager could see the letter and assume you can't follow directions. Instead, try to place elements of a letter within your resume by writing engaging sentences, putting your best attributes under one section and listing your experiences in a relevant order for the position. You should tailor every word of your application and resume to the position at hand to give an employer a complete picture of the talents you bring to the job.
2. Judgment Call
If the job posting does not specify whether you need a cover letter, use your best judgment. The email that introduces your resume could serve as four short paragraphs that make your case for the position. Crafting this intro to your personal brand may take a few hours of thought as you delve into why you enjoy collaborating with a team on the latest software updates or hardware designs.
Determine your level of passion for the company and the position. Does the job and the business make you feel excited to show up to work 40 hours per week? Do you look forward to working with your potential supervisor and coworkers as you crank out lines of code or solve the latest programming problem? If you answer "yes" to these questions, your passion should show in your letter. Go ahead and take the time, energy and effort to create your personal brand message. If you just don't feel like spending a few hours to write to someone telling them how much you want the job, forego the cover letter entirely, and focus on your resume.
Some tech companies may require a cover letter, and that's not a small issue, as human resources departments increase their workloads dramatically by saying every candidate must compose a relevant introduction. Stand out from the crowd by mentioning your high-level traits and skills, as well as a personal story detailing why you're a perfect fit for the position. This correspondence is your chance to make a human connection with the person who reads the reasons why you would love this job. A well-crafted letter might put you ahead of another person when it comes to landing an interview and scoring your dream tech job.
A cover letter puts your personality on paper before someone even checks into your background. This brief introduction might put you in better standing with the people responsible for hiring you.
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