At Randstad Technologies we have been specialising in matching IT professionals with the top companies for over 35 years. This means that no recruitment agency is surely better placed to advise candidates on the best way to nail down their dream job, and it all begins with creating an impressive application.
You may have a great CV or resume, but before the employer or HR manager sets eyes on that, they will make an initial judgement based on the cover letter that accompanies it. The cover letter is thus king in the recruitment process, and often a weak spot for IT professionals who, after all, are talented in technology and not necessarily blessed with writing skills.
This brief guide is designed to take the pain out of penning a perfect cover letter.
What to write in your IT cover letter.
A good covering letter must always contain the following information:
- name of the sender
- addressee, place and date
- subject (with job reference number)
- your motivation for applying
- your experience and suitability for the role
- conclusion and signature
How to format your cover letter.
There are free downloadable templates for cover letters available on our CV hub and it is fine to use one of these as a guide. A cover letter is, however, a personal document unique to you, so take the time and trouble to adapt it to your specifications.
Many jobseekers in the IT industry tend to simply send their cover letter as an email, but it is more professional to write it using a Word document or PDF, as a formal letter, with the type face and layout matching that of the accompanying CV. You can then email the whole package with attachments. This is, of course, unless the job advertisement specifies postal applications only.
Be brief and to the point, because the recipient of your letter will not have the time or inclination to wade through pages of waffle. Generally a cover letter should not be longer than one page, containing four or five paragraphs.
Head up your letter with your full postal address (including post code), and the date.
Cover letter content.
It is polite and professional to send your application – and therefore address your cover letter – to a named person in the organisation. If you are applying for a job referred to you by Randstad Technologies, you will be given details of the person to whom the letter should be addressed. If you don’t have a name, however, (for instance if you are writing a speculative application) find out the name and designation of the correct person. This can be done usually by doing some research online (you should have looked at the company website in any case before applying for a position), or, if necessary, make a phone call to establish the correct person to approach. Make sure that when you address the letter you have the name correctly spelt – and the job title too.
What to write:
The first paragraph of your letter should be formal and basic, stating the position you are applying for, how you heard about it, and mentioning the documents you are sending as accompaniments (for example your CV).
In the second paragraph, outline why you are interested in the particular position and organisation, and mention how the opportunity will benefit your career plan.
The third and fourth paragraphs can be used to sum up your key technical competencies and previous work experience, explaining how they make you eligible for the job. In the IT sector you must emphasise relevant technical skills, your proficiency with various technologies and highlights of your work experience to date; but if the post involves project team leadership then include any interpersonal or managerial skills and qualifications as well. Try to be as concise as possible – the cover letter should not become a copy of your CV, but serve to point out your strengths and capabilities.
The final paragraph should be a positive statement outlining your availability for an interview.
End the letter with a ‘Yours sincerely’ (it is only correct to use ‘Yours faithfully’ if you have addressed the letter to an anonymous ‘sir/madam’). Put your full name (and sign it if you are sending it through the post).
Checking the letter:
Read through your letter carefully to ensure it flows and is free of typos as well as grammar, punctuation and spelling errors (spell and grammar check if necessary). View it through the recipient’s eyes and satisfy yourself that it is readable and neat, creating a good impression of you and your abilities.
Triple-check it - Many people stop reading a letter at the first mistake, so double check your letter carefully for language, spelling or syntax errors. Computer spell and grammar checks will catch most mistakes but is never fool-proof, so have someone else read through your letter to be absolutely sure you send it to the right person - Any job reference you receive through Randstad will include details of the person the application should be sent. If not (i.e. if you are writing a speculative application) check with the company first, ensuring you check their spelling of the person's name and their correct job title.
Also, if you are sending the letter and your CV by email, make sure you have remembered the attachments before you hit the ‘send’ button. It can be embarrassing, and definitely looks unprofessional, to forget your attachments and have to follow up with an ‘oops, sorry’ email!