How to Write a Technical Cover Letter

May 6, 2021

6 Min Read

Cover letters are an opportunity to tell a company and hiring manager something you couldn’t express through your resume. Treat it like a hook of an essay to get your foot in the door and land the first interview. There, you’ll have much more time to craft your full story. Recruiters often get tens if not hundreds of applications per job opening so take advantage of every chance to showcase more of how you stand out.

Technical cover letters require another layer of complexity as you want to include specific coding languages and tools you’ve worked with without sounding like a list. Even if you aren’t good at writing, you can use the tips below to create a great cover letter to grab a recruiter’s attention.

Research, Research, Research

Do not send the same, generic cover letter for every job application. Companies that put time and effort into their voice will have a specific tone and set of values that they aim for. You can pick this up from the job description or from the “About Us” page on the company’s website. It’s important for jobs that you are really vying for that you don’t just send something bland.

StackCache suggests that you have a set framework that includes these parts.

  1. Specify the role you are applying for.
  2. Why are you interested in said job and company?
  3. How do your skills and experience bring value to this role?
  4. Give an example of how you directly contributed to a project or past role’s success.

When it comes to customizing the cover letter to fit the company, look at blog content, mission statements, and other content produced by them. Does it sound like they value cultural fit rather than a lot of experience with hard skills? Incorporate that you’re willing to learn and align personally with their core values. If they have a light-hearted tone throughout your correspondences, use that as a guide for your writing style.

Ultimately, finding the right job is a two-way street and the application and interview process is like dating. Make sure the values and opportunities you pick up on while researching the role sound like something you would want to pursue. 

Find a Hook

As mentioned above, you’re likely competing with a lot of other qualified applicants whenever you send through an application. If there are dozens of people with similar education and work history, how do you stand out? Remember that the person reading through your cover letter is a person with his or her own set of interests and ambitions in looking for their next colleague. If they read through another generic cover letter that hits all the bases but has no color, it may not be their top pick. 

Think of a scenario where you contributed to helping your team or company. This could be when you contributed ideas to an app design based on research about UI usability or if you helped gather developers to fix mission critical buggy code. Consider examples or stories that highlight your values and skills and how you put them into action. This should be a memorable story that convinces the hiring manager you are ready for the next round.

Confidence and Modesty

When you are applying for a job, use words that convey confidence in your skills and what you bring to the table. At the same time, refrain from coming off arrogant. It’s a balance between knowing what you are worth while keeping a mindset of wanting to learn.

Avoid words like “I’d like to”, “maybe”, or “perhaps” that sound uncertain. Instead, try phrases like “I will help the team by xyz” for more assurance of yourself. Rather than list off what your positive qualities are, focus on how that benefits your future employer to avoid sounding over-confident.

Think of Your Reader

When you’re trying to sell yourself — which is exactly what job interviews are — it’s easy to think that “me” and “I” are what you should talk about the most. However, what many people forget is the perspective of the hiring manager. 

Many individuals fail here. Instead of highlighting the interests of the company, they focus on the “me.” As you think of how to convey your skills, frame them so that the employer sees the value in them. Are there specific pain points that the team is facing where you can support? Tie those into your examples as the interview asks you about yourself.

Simple is Best

Especially for technical candidates, over complicating cover letter language is a quick way to getting rejected. People assume that using heavy vocabulary will catch the attention of the employers but recruiters are not looking to decipher an essay. Instead, they want a concise and simple justification for why they should talk to you still.

The weighty words give the recruiters the mentality of “so what.” You can imagine you have spent time crafting the cover letter with such words thinking that it will be unique only to be disqualified. It can be heartbreaking. So, to avoid all issues, stay simple, clear, and to the point. You will get hired!

However, there are some phrases you cannot ignore. For example, I am dedicated, passionate, and detail-oriented, Among other terms. After you have created your cover letter, please go through it, remove unnecessary words, and correct typing errors.

Don’t Repeat Yourself

Every job application requires a resume so you’ve already divulged some quick hits about yourself. With the space you have in your cover letter, refrain from repeating the same information that can be found in what you already attached. Instead, you can dive deeper into one role that has a lot of relevance or transferable skills with the job you’re vying for.

Resumes usually include sections on work history, education, and awards or skills. However, they don’t leave much room for your interests, passions outside of work, or what drives you to work harder in a professional setting. Think of your resume as more of a checklist but your cover letter as the place to add color and tell your story.

Supplement with a Strong Portfolio

One great thing about being in a technical, project-based field is that you likely have concrete examples of what you’ve worked on. Take some time to compile your proudest deliverables whether it’s a live site you helped write code for or a wireframe that was work in progress for a past project. Having solid examples for a recruiter or hiring manager to see is a great way to show what you know and what you’re capable of.

Show Future Potential

When managers are hiring tech professionals, they look for the project at hand and the future. What will your skills contribute to the well-being of the company? As someone in the technical field, you’ll need to stay up to date with the latest tools and trends. Your employer will appreciate knowing that they’re hiring someone who can bring something new to the table.

Include other relevant skills in the cover letter that will benefit the company at large. For example, if your employer has overseas teams, let them know you’re multilingual. If you don’t speak a second language, maybe you’ve worked on a global team so you understand the challenges that come with different time zones or cultures. Or, if the role you’re applying for is with a young start up, tell them about how you’ve helped other budding companies and are able to jump into tasks that you’re unfamiliar with thanks to your quick learning.

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