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Dear <Recruiter>,

I think there is a misconception out there about why you should write a cover letter and what to include. I see WAY too many cover letters that look like this:

‘Dear Sir or Madam,

Please find enclosed my resume for your perusal. I think I am a great fit for the role advertised on DATE, WEBSITE.. because I have the following skills <INSERT HALF THE JOB SPEC HERE>.

Yours Sincerely,

Applicant’

Don’t write a cover letter just for the sake of it. There is no need if your resume tells me your story and why I should want to meet you.

If you’re going to put the effort in to introducing yourself in the form of a cover letter or email, make sure it’s clear why you’re applying for the advertised job. Show me a bit of your personality and your programming loves, hates and dreams.

Remember there is a human on the other end of your application, address your email or cover letter to me (Georgina, G, even G-face will do!). As soon as I see ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, I begin to skim read. I’ll then look at your resume. If you bothered to write a cover letter, it’s highly likely your resume may not tell me why you’re applying. Perhaps you’re a .Net developer looking to get into Rails or an accountant making a career change to become an Android developer. In which case, your resume won’t necessarily be very helpful but an introduction will.

I’d recommend making this introduction in the form of a personalised email to the person who has posted the job ad. I will personally read an email before a resume or attached ‘cover letter’ and I generally only read documents titled ‘cover letter’ if the resume leaves me asking the question ‘why did you apply for this job?’.

In a world where so many people apply to any job ad that has ‘developer’ in the job title, being picky about the jobs you apply for and writing a personalised email that hints at the kind of person and developer you are, can be an easy way to stand out.