If you’re an IT professional entering the job market , we’ve got something to tell you that will make you smile – maybe even shout for joy.  Here goes….

You may never have to write another cover letter as long as you stay in the technology profession!

See, we knew you’d smile :)

If you’re like the majority of job seekers, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time during your IT job search writing the perfect cover letter. And you’ve spent all that precious time writing this document because…well, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Right?  We won’t say “wrong” but we will say “not necessarily.” 

Back in the day (before the iPod, iPad or iAnything), it was a golden rule that the cover letter always accompanied the resume. No ands, ifs or buts about it. The cover letter, so we’ve been told, must be engaging, position-specific and well-written. It must describe why you are interested in the position and what qualifications or experience makes you a good fit. It should outline your relevant experience and reflect your willingness to learn. It should also be used as an opportunity to highlight a special skill or quality you possess that would be an asset to any organization.

But wait. If the cover letter serves such an important purpose, why are we saying “fugheddaboudit?” There are three reasons, but we want to preface that the cover letter is NOT obsolete.  Job seekers (especially outside the technology industry) should be prepared to submit a cover letter when applying directly to HR or the hiring manager because a personalized, tailored letter may help to get their attention. However, when working directly with an IT recruiter, do what the gang from The Jersey Shore would do and fugheddaboudit. Here’s why:

  1. For the recruiter, the resume is the cover letter. The resume is what recruiters use to screen candidates. Because recruiters must fill numerous positions for multiple clients in very short timeframes, they don’t have time to sift through information that may or may not be pertinent to the job they’re trying to fill. This is why a customized resume highlighting skills relevant to a particular position/role is vital. If your resume impresses the recruiter, she’ll want to talk to you and that’s when you can provide additional information that isn’t included on the resume.
  2. The recruiter will search social media sites to find out more about you. If your resume gets the recruiter’s attention, it’s almost a guarantee that she will turn to social media to do a little investigative work.  For example, the recruiter may go to your LinkedIn page to review and compare work history, read recommendations, and see if there is a network connection to her or anyone she may know.  Social media is an important recruiting tool, so don’t underestimate its influence during the hiring process. We’ve blogged about social media extensively – if you want to know more about how to effectively use social media during your job search a good place to start is here.
  3. Believe it or not, 99 percent of the time our clients never request a cover letter. Simply put, they don’t have time. That’s why your resume must clearly communicate the skills, experiences and results that pertain to the position you’re applying to.

With all that said, having a “back up” cover letter is always a good idea. For instance, if the client isn’t totally sold on your skills listed on the resume, the recruiter can use information contained within the cover letter to persuade the client to consider you. The hiring manager may also be interested in viewing the cover letter to show him that you can write a sentence and know how to communicate effectively.

Bottom line, when you’re working with a recruiter don’t spend time writing an eloquent cover letter. Instead, use that time to create a powerful resume and online presence.

Views: 646

Comment by FREYJA P. on February 3, 2011 at 7:18pm
Hooray and thanks for these comments I tear my hair out when I sit down with a candidate for the first time and discuss relevant information that isn't included in the resume. I start to tear my hair out when they say "oh I put all that in the cover letter. Or "oh my updated telephone contact info is in my cover letter - ackk! Your precious cover letter either gets folded back or pitched into g-file as soon as they receive it!
Comment by pam claughton on February 4, 2011 at 7:06am

If you send the cover letter to a recruiter as an attachment, you can almost guarantee it won't be read.


However, a short, sweet, email along with the resume is a good thing. It's not necessary if the resume is amazing, but it can still be helpful in giving additional insight, and a sense of how well you can communicate.

Comment by Jon Prete on February 4, 2011 at 7:37am
Points well taken...thanks ladies!
Comment by Matthew Murr on February 4, 2011 at 10:58am

I would prefer people put more effort into getting all the information into the resume than writing a cover letter.  Your resume should tell your story. 

I don't read cover letters that people send.

Comment by Frances Waters on February 4, 2011 at 10:58am
Well said!
Comment by Carol Piggot on February 4, 2011 at 10:59am
I agree with you wholeheartedly!  Thank you for a great post.
Comment by Kirk Baumann on February 4, 2011 at 11:06am

People just don't use cover letters much.  I agree that the resume should speak for itself (AND contain the pertinent information needed).  


On the flip-side, the purpose of the cover letter is to explain briefly how you'd address a challenge or issue that is important to the company you're applying for.  IF it's done well (most aren't, unfortunately), it could get you closer to in the door than just sending a resume.  NOTE: Cover letters shouldn't be a copy of what's in your resume.  If they are, what's the point?


I can't wait to see what others have to say on this subject....have a feeling it's going to be a hot debate. :) 

Comment by Todd Nilson on February 4, 2011 at 11:23am
While I discourage candidates from including a cover letter as an attachment, I disagree with the idea that the résumé should stand on its own. A good introductory email takes the place of a cover letter but I'm not inclined to respond to candidates who just send me an email with no body in the text to explain context and just an attachment. Maybe we're talking about a difference in nomenclature?
Comment by Shawn Ziemba on February 4, 2011 at 11:25am

In my opinion, a cover letter is usually a red flag to me that the candidate has to explain some anomaly on their resume. Ten, maybe 15 years ago...a cover letter might have been a normal tool for a candidate to use. These days you can communicate whatever you might have wanted to say in a cover letter, with a quick call, IM or email.


Plus a resume today is more like a bunch of code. A recruiter scans it like a computer would, more or less, looking for key words and quick blips of info pertaining to employer names and years of experience. Who wants to read a story? I sure as hell don't want to, nor do I have the time to do so.


Then again, most of the candidates I am in contact with I reach out to...so I am asking them for information. For someone spamming their resume to potential employers, I guess they have to do something to explain things since they have no direct line to the recruiter/HM. I feel for people these days, especially the aging workforce and even new grads, as they are helpless competing against ideal candidates that have 3-10yrs of targeted experience. 

Comment by Todd Nilson on February 4, 2011 at 11:29am
Why does a candidate's introduction have to explain a résumé anomally? The written message is yet another test of communication skills. Why wouldn't I want to see if this person can write? People pay résumé writers all too frequently. Knowing that a candidate can communicate effectively with me via email is a way for me to tell if he or she is going to be client-facing enough to work out. The day of the tech consultant who can't be put in front of an executive and communicate with the business is quickly passing away.


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