The goal is to stand out and make yourself as unique from the crowd as possible to show how prepared you are to take on the responsibility that the job requires.
Let's get right to it. Not all tech professionals are great writers and some of them may require assistance and effort to get it right. But to make your case with recruiters you will need to depend on something other than your resume. Something that reflects on your personality in a way that enhances your capabilities to take on the responsibilities in question. Enter, a smashing cover letter that does the job for you.
Do you really need a cover letter for your tech job?
Usually, recruiters are after your technical achievements that can be very well demonstrated through your resume. So why a cover letter? While a well-crafted resume undoubtedly plays a significant role in landing you a job, a cover letter helps you make a compelling case as to why a recruiter should look at your resume in the first place. It helps you personalize your unique experiences and accentuate your technical experience with a unique personality that sets you apart from the rest of the software engineers who may be equally capable.
So yes, you do need a cover letter.
Having said that, it pays to invest some time in reflection as to what part of your experiences would you like to share and how that would play to your strengths in landing you a tech job. There is no doubt that a poorly written cover letter is only going to do you more harm than good. So with a few guidelines on how to write a cover letter that will make the recruiter take your resume up along the hiring process, you are good to go.
Tips to write an impactful cover letter for your tech job
Make it memorable:
Recruiters are probably reading cover letters repeatedly so you want to be someone who is memorable amidst that monotony. How do you do it?
- Short and concise: Spare the recruiters some extra time and effort by keeping your letter short and concise. About 300 words should do perfectly.
- Do away with traditional formalities: Imagine having to read “ To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir” or “Dear Sir/Ma’am” or an unconcerned “ Dear Hiring Manager”.over and over again. You know the drill gets tiring very easily.
- Be creative: You can start by addressing the recruiter by using their name to add a personal touch. You can take the letter away from the traditional route. Instead of stating the obvious like “ I am writing to you because I am interested to apply for the position of so and so” You could start with a fresh structure:
“ I have been a software engineer for three years now, and the best thing about my experience is that…..(highlight your unique experiences)”
“ Right from high school, I have had a knack for designing ….(talk about your personal projects)
“ After going to two boot camps and several independent contracts, I have realized that I am great at ( your core skills)
Relevant to the job:
While writing a cover letter it is very important that you utilize fully the power of those 250- 300 words that give you an opportunity to answer,” Why should you get this job?”
One way to answer this is by describing why you may be passionate about the position in question. However, keep in mind to curtail the narrative of irrelevant details that may not add to your advantage.
Another important way to answer this is by highlighting your amazing skillset that shows that you can take on the responsibilities that this job entails. You could mention your degrees, coding languages, training, etc to make your case.
You could highlight important keywords from the job description and use them to reflect your work experiences.
Personalize and highlight details of your work experience:
Here comes the part where you mention your skills, your projects, your impressive achievements in a way that builds into quantifiable measurements of your success. Here is what I mean:
“I am dedicated to continuous process improvements that build on the quality of the end product. For example, I suggested a bug tracking system as a solution to QA issues midway through the developing cycle. This resulted in a reduced error by over 50% during QA and we could complete the product launch 10 days ahead of what we had planned.”
The above example is more interesting and evident of your achievements than saying,
“ I was instrumental in building a bug tracking system at XYZ company ”
When you want to mention your achievements in collaboration you could say something like:
“In collaboration with the marketing team, I structured a conversion tool and revenue reporting system for their e-commerce website that could be traced to generate a 40% increase in the monthly end-user base.”
Rather than simply stating facts like:
“ I worked in collaboration with several marketers and product team members within the company from… to …”
Add soft skills that are in demand for your tech job
Recruiters must have read hundreds of letters that promise they have the most in-demand tech skills for the job. But what makes you more appealing as a job candidate is how humanly relatable you are. Especially now that working remotely has become the norm, tech professionals are ever more required to be supremely efficient communicators in that they understand other people and know how to get themselves understood. Other skills like curiosity to try new things, adaptability, flexibility, and dynamism could be described through your working experience.
If you can, highlight these skills with personalized examples. What I mean is, you could say,
“ I can communicate effectively, I am empathetic, adaptable and can easily manage complex code pipelines”
But this sentence doesn’t do much to set you apart from the rest. Here, the deal is not just to show what skills you have but also to show why you are different than the other applicants. While it is a perfectly good sentence to work with, you could make yourself more impactful by playing to your uniqueness such as,
“ If we need to migrate to a newer database I will also generally inquire about any downtime or burnout it may cause to end-users before implementing”
This is a very subtle inclination to show EXACTLY how you can be empathetic without having to say so.
“As an independent consultant, all my clients were really thrilled that I completed all my tasks beforehand and really appreciated that I made presentations to make them understand relevant technical details in simple terms.”
This sentence describes that other people have tested and validated your skills. (more reason to hire you) It effectively implies that you are reliable, communicate well with your clients, and are on top of your task and time management skills.
Stay true and genuine:
Make sure your cover letter sounds like you. You can do this by:
- Editing out jargony cliche terms that don’t really say much about you.
- Researching company culture, the people who may be your colleagues, their interests, and playing by that advantage by mentioning similar values and interests that align with you. This can make your cover letter more relatable and in turn more memorable.
- You will want to thoroughly edit your cover letter for any typos, spelling errors, and the emotion or intention that each sentence carries with itself.
- Explain any gaps in career or education so that you don’t end up on the “rejected” list of candidates.
- Mention what unique skill set you will bring to this role, that will set you apart from the rest of the candidates. You could even say this by using a simple sentence such as, “What would set me apart from other potential candidates would be my experience in ….”
All said and done, your cover letter needs to represent the value you will bring to the job as a candidate. Then you need to market yourself by emphasizing and describing your unique achievements in well-articulated sentences. You can then hope to be impactful in your endeavors to get on to the next round in your application process.
Even after doing the best you can, chances are that you might be rejected. But that completely okay because it does take some time to find a job that the right fit for both you and the company. So keep at it and tweak your cover letter each time to align yourself as genuinely as you can to the responsibilities of the job you are applying for.