If all an employer cared about is the IT skills and technical knowledge a candidate has obtained, then there would not be the need for an interview. The fact is, in addition to looking for specific skills and knowledge, employers want candidates who are passionate about the field and who have demonstrated a track record of success and progress. A resume alone does not necessarily help demonstrate these additional attributes. This is where the cover letter critically comes into play to help secure your chances for an interview.
It is the cover letter that helps you begin to tell your story of how you achieved your experience and success in the field. It is also the tool in the job search that allows you to express to an employer the passion you have for such a career and offers a personalized way to establish your credentials and character.
Here are specific tips that will help guide you in the cover letter writing process:
- Years of Experience.
It is not enough to simply indicate on your resume and cover letter that you have X years of experience in the IT field. What does this tell the employer? Not much. Instead, use the cover letter to highlight the type of IT environments you have been involved in during these years. How many users/desktops were you involved in managing/supporting? How many locations were involved? What types of industries did you work in? Such descriptive information will give the employer a better sense of the work environment you have experience with.
Listing that you have obtained Cisco Certifications such as CCNA, CCNP, or that you have CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+ and /or Security+ certification can help with getting past an applicant tracking system, but once it is in the hands of a hiring manager, it needs to do more to establish your track record for outcomes and business results that matter. Show how you put that knowledge to work. Did you establish a small enterprise network? What kind of secure networking advances were put in place to address the need for a stable foundation to help employees interact and conduct business seamlessly? These details will help to demonstrate to an employer that you have applied your knowledge and skills well in practice. You are now building your story in a cover letter.
-Customer Service Mentality.
Even for technical professionals, the number 1 trait that an employer wants is good communication skills. It is critical in an IT professional’s cover letter just as it is in an interview to demonstrate people skills and a customer service-oriented mentality. Employers want candidates who not only have technical skills, but have a passion to really understand the needs of the business/organization and apply those technical skills in a way that will contribute to its growth. At more advanced levels, employers need assurance that you are accountable as a leader and have the ability to establish deep relationships with functions and units across the enterprise because the fact is that your work will affect vast parts of the organization. Employers want to know they are hiring a candidate that is sincere about wanting to help the end user. Demonstrate to the employer that you are the “go-to” person for IT expertise and that you are someone people enjoy working with because you can understand challenges from the user’s point of view. You need to demonstrate that you can cater your knowledge and skills to suit the particular environment.
Regardless of the career path you choose –software engineer, desktop support specialist, systems analyst, project manager, network architect or other IT role – it is critical that you use the cover letter to firmly establish a personal and professional presence.
Don Goodman, President of About Jobs (www.GotTheJob.com) is a nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Certified Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University's Executive Program, Don has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Get a Free Resume Evaluation, read his blog at www.GotTheJob.com/blog/ or contact him at 800-909-0109 or by e-mail at DGoodman@GotTheJob.com.