Career management for IT professionals 3.

Should an IT professional write a cover letter?
If you want to change careers and already have created your CV, the next step is to send it to the decision makers. For this purpose, of course, you will need a cover letter. There has been much debate whether to attach a cover letter to our CV. The main argument is that nobody would read it. I am one of those who are in favour of cover letters, mainly because it is simply not appropriate to send your CV to the whole world without any message. There must be a letter, in which you define why you send it to the particular person. Of course, if this letter is too verbose or does not focus on the essentials, then you should not be surprised that nobody will read it at all.

Let us review what types of cover letters exist and which of these should be used.

The types of cover letters
• motivation letter
• two-column motivation letter
• marketing letter
• networking letter

You should write a cover letter if you want to apply for a specific job. The main elements are as follows:
1. Refer to where you have heard about the job. 2. Reasons why you are the most suitable candidate. 3. Explain motivations why you want to work for the particular company in that position. 4. Contact section, in which you indicate that you are going to apply by phone, in order to check the opportunity of a personal meeting. It is enough to write one sentence for each point.

It is more efficient and streamlined if the cover letter is supplemented with two columns. In the first column you put the 5-6 most relevant expectation that the employer places upon applicants. (This can be found in the job advertisement or in the job description.) In the second column you put to what extent you fulfil those expectations. The point is to prove that you are the candidate to whom the job description fits perfectly, so you are the employee who the employer is looking for.

The main elements of a two-column cover letter

The structure is similar to that of the traditional cover letter.
1. Reference to source of the job advertisement
2. Evidence in two columns: you ask for it – I can provide it
3. Expressing motivation
4. Contact and approaching

Sample two-column cover letter

“Dear Decision Maker,

I would like to apply for the position that is being advertised on the internet.

Please check my attached CV and you will see that I am a perfect match for the role:

• At least Bachelor’s Degree: I have an MSc degree in IT.
• Strong communication skills in English: I use my English on a daily basis for communicating with my global partners.
• 10 years of experience in global ERP deployments: I gained 12 years of experience in deploying different ERP systems, such as SAP, Siebel and MS Dynamics AX.
• Knowledge of MS Dynamics AX solutions or similar: I have 3+ years of experience in implementing MS Dynamics AX solutions in the manufacturing industry.
• Project management experience: I have 5 years of experience in managing IT projects.
• People management experience: I managed 15-20 project team members.
• Willingness to travel within Europe frequently: I usually spend 1 week per month in other European countries when working on ERP implementation projects.

I am really motivated to work at your company as an IT project manager who will be responsible for ERP deployments. I have checked your website and LinkedIn page, and I was impressed to see that you have several manufacturing sites within Europe and that your colleagues are highly skilled. I would love to work in such an inspiring environment.

Please, let me approach you either on phone or LinkedIn in order to fix a date for a personal interview.

Regards,

Attila”

If you are not applying for a specific job, just want to send around the message in your network that you are facing a career change, you will have to write a marketing or a networking letter.

The main elements of a marketing letter
1. Reference: This is where we met, this is where we know each other from.
2. Introduction: I am facing a career change.
3. Summarising your skills: This is what I am good at, this is where I gained experience.
4. Objected sector: This is where I would be able to utilise my skills.
5. Ask for help in career change: Please, send my CV to others who can help.
6. Propose a meeting.

I am not showing any example for the marketing and networking letter right now as I will deal with these two types of the cover letter in more details in my next article, which will be about relationship building.
To conclude we can say that it is worth writing a cover letter but its length and structure should be considered. If it is concise and clear it will surely be read. The best method for this purpose is to use the above explained two-column type movtivation letter, which should be written into the email body directly.

Used literature
http://www.adecco.co.uk/news/cover-letter.aspx

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