If you write a cover letter, write one that gets you seen.
Writing cover letters can be a drag, but sometimes you have to do it. So, what’s the best way to catch a recruiter’s attention and show them you’ve got what it takes? Try using the t-format.
Tip: There’s a t-format cover letter template at the bottom of this cheat sheet to help you get started
Should you send a cover letter?
First, read the application requirements to figure out if you need to submit a cover letter. You’ll generally have three options:
1. If the employer asks for one, definitely include one.
2. If a cover letter isn’t mentioned, don’t send one.
3. If it’s optional, don’t feel obligated. Some good reasons to opt in are if you’re making a career transition and you need to further explain transferable skills or if you feel especially passionate about a role and want to express it.
Main parts of a tech cover letter.
- In the first section, open with a powerful intro that shows you know about the role/company and why you’re right for the position.
- The middle is where you get to the heart of your qualifications, what sets you apart and why the company should consider you for the role. This is where you’ll use the t-format.
- Finish strong. The closing paragraph is your chance to drive home that you’re a great fit.
Benefits of a t-format cover letter.
Employers don’t just want to know you’re qualified for the role—they want to know why. The t-format helps you explain why in a simple way that’s easy to read.
How to use t-format.
This format stands out because it doesn’t include a middle paragraph. Instead, create a t-chart between your introduction and closing sections.
Label the left column something like “Your Job Requirements,” “Your Needs” or “What you’re looking for.” Label the right column, “My Qualifications,” “I Offer” or “My Experience.”
Next, read through the job description—pick 3-4 requirements that closely match your experience and skills. Copy/paste these bulleted must-haves in the left column of your chart.
On the right, match your experience with each bullet point. In 1-2 sentences, show exactly how you fit the requirement and back up your claims with evidence, data and examples of your skills in action. You want to make it easy for the recruiter to read quickly so keep it brief.
LinkedIn Profile URL
Dear [Recruiter/Hiring Manager’s Name],
[In your introduction paragraph, explain why you’re excited about the role and company, and how the job lines up with your career goals.]
[In your closing paragraph, thank the employer for their time and consideration. You can also use this space to recap your qualifications for the role and your reasons for applying. Finally, express an interest in hearing about next steps.]