How to land your next IT job

As the technology sector becomes more competitive, getting your job application noticed requires you to go the extra mile.

A well-crafted cover letter can help you stand out from other applicants, concisely and convincingly.

It helps in communicating your eagerness to take on the role and what value you will bring to an organisation.

Taking the time to write a cover letter positions you as a proactive candidate who has thought about their application and importantly, deserves an employer's attention. 

While a cover letter may be a relatively short document compared to your resume (see our tips on writing an IT resume), it can take just as long to get right.

As such, we've provided advice below. 

You can also download a sample IT cover letter template so you can maximise your chances of landing your next tech job.

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IT cover letter advice

What is an IT cover letter?

First off, let's establish what an IT cover letter is. It is a short, personalised note that you attach to your resume when you apply for a job.

Its purpose is to introduce you as an IT professional and summarise why you believe you are the right person for the job. 

It is designed to be read before your CV and is an opportunity to entice the employer or hiring manager to find out more about you.

It should not duplicate information from your resume but instead provide an additional layer of context to what the reader will find there. 

If that all sounds a little vague, don't worry - below we'll explain how to write a tech cover letter. We've also provided an IT cover letter template you can download to help you get started. 

Why prepare a cover letter for a technology job?

Because IT and tech jobs tend to focus on quantifiable skills and experience, you might think that attaching a cover letter won't make much of a difference. However, with so many applications containing overlapping skills and competencies, writing a cover letter is a great way to help you stand out from other candidates. 

Since not all job candidates will make an effort to prepare a cover letter, you can easily set yourself apart by dedicating time to writing your own. 

To summarise, a well-crafted cover letter will make it more likely you'll be shortlisted for an interview. If you're serious about finding your next great tech job, you should write a cover letter for every application you send. 

How long should an IT cover letter be?

No matter what the job is, an ideal cover letter should only be around five paragraphs long. This should be more than enough to convey your interest in the role and why your CV will prove you're a great fit. 

No matter if you use our IT cover letter template or craft your own from scratch, remember that brevity is key. Tech employers are likely sorting through a large number of applications, so they probably won't have the patience to read an excessively long cover letter, no matter how well written you think it is.

What's the best layout for my cover letter?

Having a clean, uncomplicated layout is key to ensuring your cover letter is easy to read. Like you would with any other email, begin with a clear and concise subject line that gets to the point of why you're applying for the job. 

When it comes to the body of your IT cover letter, make sure to break down each paragraph into small, digestible chunks that highlight your suitability for the role (being careful to make sure what you include is relevant to the job description). No one likes wading through a huge wall of text, and by breaking things down, you can make sure important points stand out. 

You should also leave a space between each paragraph so that the reader can easily see where one ends and the next begins. Finally, no matter how tempted you are to do otherwise, avoid using fancy fonts or graphics (it's your words that will make you stand out, not how pretty they look!).

Of course, make sure you've written a fresh cover letter for each employer and don't just rely on editing a standardised letter. To help, here's a detailed breakdown of each step you should take when writing your cover letter.

How to write a tech cover letter

1. Do your research

Start off by going through the job description and highlighting the keywords that have been used to describe what the organisation is looking for. Like with your CV, it's helpful to target these keywords in your cover letter so that it's sorted favourably by applicant tracking systems (ATS). 

For example, a Data Scientist's cover letter template might include references to "data mining", "statistical analysis" and "predictive modelling", assuming those terms appeared in the job description. 

However, be careful not to overdo your use of keywords such that your letter appears spam-like, as this will work against you. 

Beyond studying the requirements of the job you're applying for, take time to study the organisation you're hoping to work at. Reading their website, employee profiles, blogs, social media and more will help you understand their overall personality and tone of voice.

2. Ensure your cover letter is tailored to the specific tech job you're applying for

Since many jobs in the technology sector have overlapping skills and responsibilities, it can be tempting to use a copy-pasted cover letter for each application (editing a few details here and there). While this may seem efficient, it defeats the purpose of a cover letter, which is conveying your sincere interest in the role and why you're a great candidate. 

Make an effort to ensure your IT cover letter has been crafted with care for every role you apply for. Employers know the difference between a good cover letter and something that has been lazily thrown together, so using a copy-pasted version can actually lessen your chances of being shortlisted for an interview. 

3. Start off with a clear subject line

Your cover letter's subject line is key to making sure it gets read in the first place. Like with any email, if your subject line is unclear or uninteresting, there's a good chance it will get lost amongst the hundreds of others sitting in an employer's inbox. 

A good subject line should be concise and to the point. For example, a Software Developer's cover letter template might have the subject line "Experienced software developer for X position". 

4. Address the cover letter to the right person

This is easy if the hiring manager or recruiter has listed their name in the job description, but this isn't always the case. Instead of falling back on a generic "To whom it may concern", try to research the company to find out who you should be addressing. 

By simply browsing the company's website or LinkedIn, you can probably find the person in charge of recruitment. Your cover letter will be much more potent if you can address it to someone personally

5. Write a strong introduction to grab their attention

The first paragraph is your chance to really sell yourself, so be sure to start off strong and demonstrate you understand what the reader is looking for. Highlight your background in the technology niche you're applying for and incorporate your unique selling points (USPs). 

For example, if you were following a cyber security cover letter template, your introduction might read "I am a cyber security specialist with 5 years' experience and a proven track record in protecting online systems against attack." 

However, an alternative way of introducing yourself is to mention a mutual connection. Maybe you have a friend who works at the company who recommended the job to you, or you met the recruiter at an industry event. If you have a connection with the reader, mentioning it in your opening paragraph is a guaranteed way to grab their attention. 

6. Add evidence of your technical ability and how you will benefit their organisation

After grabbing the reader's attention, spend one or two paragraphs writing about what you will bring to their company if hired. Make sure the skills and experience you reference are aligned with what the job description has listed as key requirements. Support this with evidence of your achievements (such as relevant facts and case studies) to prove you're what the organisation is looking for. 

For example, if you were applying for a role as a Senior UX Designer, you might include the following in your cover letter "I have 5 years of experience designing digital products, and my seniority means I'm also able to manage teams of designers. In my previous role, I increased conversion rates by XX% by introducing a new UX flow." 

Providing tangible evidence of how you've leveraged your skills and experience to benefit another company leads the reader to picture how you could do the same for them. Getting this section of your cover letter right makes it nearly impossible for the reader not to open your CV. 

7. Highlight your key skills and achievements

Next, include bullet points that further hammer home why you're an excellent fit for the advertised job. Preface your bullet points with a sentence that reinforces the idea that if you are hired, you will bring this kind of success with you. 

8. Sign off professionally

Wrap up your cover letter by thanking the reader for their consideration and confirming your availability to discuss the role. It's always good to finish off with a power phrase like "I’m eager to hear back from you to discuss this opportunity further" or "I've attached my resume for your consideration, and I look forward to your reply". 

Finally, as you'll see in our IT cover letter template, close with a formal and universally accepted "Yours sincerely" or "Kind regards". After signing off with your name, make sure that beneath it you've listed your contact information, including your phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile. 

9. Proofread and review your formatting

It's not uncommon for recruiters and hiring managers to pay very close attention to the written quality of cover letters. This is because it is assumed that a candidate will typically not proofread their cover letter as much as their CV, making it a more honest reflection of the communication abilities they would bring to the role. 

With this in mind, you should carefully review your cover letter for any spelling and grammar errors. If you've written your cover letter in Microsoft Word, make sure that the formatting translates well when you paste it into an email. If possible, get a friend to review the letter for you so that you get a second pair of eyes on it. 

What NOT to include in your IT cover letter

Excessive details and descriptions

When writing about your technical achievements, it can be easy to indulge in an excessive level of detail. Remember that your CV will contain a more detailed breakdown of your skills and achievements, so keep the information in your cover letter short and sweet.

Regurgitated information from your CV

Your cover letter is meant to introduce and support the story you're trying to tell with your CV, not simply repeat the same information. Use your cover letter as a chance to frame the key skills and achievements in your CV in the context of what they will bring to the role. 

However, make sure that the key details you reference in your cover letter also appear in your CV - just in case the recruiter or hiring manager skips it. 

Overselling yourself

Hiring managers are used to reading cover letters that go on about how amazing and unique the candidate is. Unfortunately, most of them won't be fooled by this. Try to keep your tone humble and realistic. 

For example, if you're applying for a role as an experienced Web Developer, don't introduce yourself with "I'm the best results-driven programmer you'll ever find". Instead, try "I am an experienced web developer passionate about building online experiences that drive results." 

Writing in the third person

Some tech professionals make the mistake of writing their IT cover letter in the third person. However, your cover letter should be a personal testimony about your suitability for the role. As such, it should be written in the first person, as it's about you and your ability to meet the company’s needs. 

Final tips for how to write an IT cover letter

  • Keep the information succinct and relevant. Stick to five or six well-crafted paragraphs - anymore is overkill. 
  • Be clear in stating your motivation for applying to the advertised role. 
  • The same as you would in your resume, use strong verbs to describe your accomplishments, such as "led", "organised", "supervised", etc. 
  • Take time to perfect your subject line. Also, double-check the JD to see if the employer has asked you to format your subject line a certain way (failing to pay attention to this could guarantee your CV is ignored). 
  • If you are using an online application to apply rather than an email client, it might be prudent to include your cover letter and CV in the same document so they don't get separated. 
  • If you haven't had confirmation your application has been received, follow up by calling the employer. The person responsible for reviewing your application could be inundated with other applicants, so a quick call can prompt them to open yours and further demonstrate your eagerness for the position. 

As you can see, there's a lot to consider when crafting the perfect cover letter for a tech job. A great way to get started is to download our IT cover letter template to see what our advice looks like in practice. 

Good luck in applying for your next IT job!