Does Your Technical Resume Need a Cover Letter?

cover letters

As a technical resume writer, I am often asked about the importance of a cover letter and my answer has changed significantly over time.

Four or five years ago, I would have answered that everyone needs a cover letter, even for the most technical of job searches. At that point, not many companies were asking for them, but it was important to have one as a ‘just in case’. But even then they were short and sweet, as long cover letters had already become a thing of the past.

In today’s job market, I have to ask myself – who really needs a cover letter anymore?

If you are a technology executive, then by all means, have a cover letter written for each position for which you apply. Highlight your strengths and explain why you are a perfect fit for the company’s culture and technology needs. Most importantly, don’t use generic language and make every word count.

This means that technical cover letters must be highly targeted because no one is impressed with generalities. To get noticed, you need to speak to the needs of the hiring company and a single cover letter simply won’t work for multiple purposes.

If you are a technology manager or technologist, then start with an engaging paragraph in your cover letter and follow it with highlights from your resume. Please don’t copy and paste directly from your resume – paraphrase the language. As a general rule, keep it short and to the point.

Caution: These days, few people read cover letters, even when they are requested. So never put anything in your letter that is vital to your job search, unless it is also included in your resume.


When I write a cover letter, I have the client provide several job descriptions and I write specifically for those examples. I often make notes when I’m writing a technical resume so it streamlines the process somewhat. Even then, it can often take me several hours to capture just the right message.

If you are getting a complimentary cover letter from your technical resume writer, consider whether it’s of any real value to you. Sometimes the adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ is entirely true.

About the Author – Jennifer Hay

“As a technical resume writer, my clients tell me I have the rare talent to transform a technical career into a clear, concise, and powerful technical resume. In fact, I’m known for innovative resumes that provide an advantage in today’s intensively competitive global employment market. As the world’s first nationwide resume writer for information technology (CRS+IT), I am a natural choice for technology professionals seeking high-impact career marketing documents. I love the geeky stuff, so bring it on!

I won a Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) award in the technical category in 2011, a Career Innovator’s award in 2012, and served as a TORI judge in 2013.