Writing cover letters is part of applying for jobs, but it’s a part that job seekers often neglect. Many people spend a lot of time perfecting their CV and tailoring it for the job they are applying to, only to then hurriedly throw together an engineering cover letter.
Cover letters don’t need to take you long to write and if you follow the tips below, you’ll have a much better chance of getting the recruiter’s attention.
Before getting into the tips, though, are engineering job application cover letters important and does anyone even read them?
Why Are Cover Letters Important?
Cover letters give you a chance to expand on the content in your CV in a way that is more personal, individual, and persuasive. You can talk about the job you’re applying for specifically and why you want to work for the company. You can also talk about how your skills or experience will directly benefit the role and the company.
So, cover letters are important, and they are read. In fact, they are read before your CV, so they are the first impression the potential employer gets of you. A good cover letter should be tailored to the role and the company you are applying for.
Here are four Dos and four Don’ts to help you write better engineering job application cover letters.
1. Tailor each cover letter for the job you’re applying for
You can have a template cover letter to speed up the process of applying for a job and to ensure you don’t miss out important information. You should never send the template, however. Instead, you should tailor each cover letter for the job you’re applying for.
2. Explain why you’re applying for the job and the company
This includes describing the immediate goals you have for your career. It also includes explaining why you want to work for the employer. Do some research on this part by finding out about the employer – the more you know, the better. What is it that interests you about the role and the company? Where have you come across the company before? Keep everything you write professional but also enthusiastic and conversational.
3. Mention directly related skills and experience
Describe the skills and experience you have that you think are directly related to the job you are applying for. Look closely at the job spec and highlight the keys skills and experience required for the role. Mention these in the cover letter as well as any unique selling points. This will help you capture the attention of the reader.
4. Include a good close, check your spelling, and advise of your availability
Include a good closing statement in your cover letter that summarises why you are an ideal candidate for the role. It is also helpful to let the employer know when you are available for interview. Finally, spell check the cover letter. This is good practice whatever industry you are in, but, as an engineer, it shows you’re thorough. It can also be helpful to get someone else to read the cover letter before you send it.
1. Don’t write too much – or too little
A cover letter for your engineering job application should be about one page. If you are sending it by email or using a form on a website, this translates to 300-350 words which is normally about four paragraphs.
2. Don’t talk about what you can’t do
Being an engineer is about adapting and problem-solving so talk about how your skills are transferable if you think there are gaps in your knowledge. Never say you can do something you can’t, of course, but keep the cover letter as positive as possible.
3. Avoid criticising
Following on from the last point about keeping the cover letter positive, don’t be negative about your current or past employers either. Even if there are issues about why you are leaving or have left a job, a cover letter is not the place to discuss them.
4. Don’t repeat content in your CV
Cover letters are for expanding on your CV in a way that’s specifically related to the job you are applying for, not simply repeating content that’s already in the CV.
Finally, take time to strike the right balance between being formal and informal. You don’t want to sound stuffy and unnatural by being too formal, but you can’t be overly informal either as this sounds unprofessional.