Writing an effective cover email is crucial.
Ask any recruiter and they’ll tell you: Sometimes it’s the cover email, not the resume, that gets you moved to the top of the pile.
Why? Because while a resume often is – and should be – a concise summary of your skills, experience, education and achievements, a cover letter is an opportunity to demonstrate a little ‘personality’. Skills and experience are important, but studies show that cultural fit and personality can be a bigger determinant of the long-term success of a new employee.
Most IT recruiters are working on more than one job opportunity at once. An email without a cover letter – an email that’s just a resume attachment – often gets discarded simply because the IT recruiter doesn’t have time to figure out exactly which job you’re applying for.
So it’s important to craft a customized cover email every time you’re applying for a job. But don’t panic – it’s easier than you think!
Cover emails simply need to have 3 paragraphs:
Introduction and identification
The first paragraph should be short and sweet: “Dear [name, if you have it]: I am very interested in the position of [insert name of position, being as specific as possible] that you advertised on [insert where you saw the advertisement, such as Monster or Craigslist]. Attached, please find my resume.”
Now the recruiter knows exactly who you are, what you’re interested in, and where you’ve come from – and you get routed to the right pile.
Statement of interest + a little personality
The second paragraph is the one which can move you from ‘average’ to ‘top of the pile’ – it’s all about making you stand out.
The first sentence or two should be something about why you’re interested in the position and why you were moved to apply for it: “I was particularly interested in this position because it seemed like a perfect fit for me – and of course I’ve always loved your [insert something positive about the company, such as “I’ve always loved your running shoes” or “I’ve noticed you’ve launched some new product lines recently, and I think it must be an exciting time to be a member of your team.”].
Be specific, and try not to be sycophantic – something sincere like “I loved your new website, and it made me think it must be great to work at your company” is better than something generic like “I’ve been following your corporate growth for several years now, and I’d like to join a dynamic team such as you have at your organization.”
Then follow it up with a statement referencing your specific skills, experience and fit, like “With 5+ years experience in [a related field, industry or role], and a genuine passion for running, I’d love the opportunity to work with you.”
The third paragraph should be a one sentence closing statement, and it’s another opportunity to stand out. Using “Sincerely” is probably too boring; using something like “Cheers” isn’t sufficiently formal. Try “Thank you for taking the time to consider my resume, I hope to hear from you.”
Another good gambit, depending on the formality of the organization you’re applying to, is the ‘eager but not desperate’ “Thanks very much for considering my resume. I’d love to speak further with you about this opportunity – it sounds like a dream job for me!” closing. Used wisely, this kind of close can make you sound respectful and confident.
And there you have it – the 3 steps to a perfect cover letter!
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Learn more about what you need to make that next step in your IT career by visiting our Guide to Landing the Ultimate Information Technology Job.