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How to write an engineering cover letter

In this article you will learn:


It does not matter whether you are in your final year or you are a post graduate student, if you are applying for a job as an engineer, you will need an engineering cover letter. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to think this is simply a quick note that states you want a job because your curriculum vitae demonstrates your excellent academic record. The dreadful reality is that the recruiter will not look at your cv if your engineering cover letter does not impress them. This is why it is essential that you get it right.

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It does not matter whether you are applying for a job as a civil engineer, an electrical engineer or a mechanical engineer, the same rule applies to all engineering applications and that is to keep it formal. Incidentally, even if the company requires your cover letter to be in the form of an email, that does not mean you can lose the formal format.

Put your name and address in the top right hand corner; leave a line and put the date underneath it in the left hand corner. Leave a line and then put the name of the person you are addressing and the company that you are applying to. Leave two line spaces and then write Dear Mr Peabody or whatever the name is. Leave a line space and this is where you write the main body of your letter. If you do not have a name, you should write ‘Dear Sir or Madam,’ then go on to write the main body of your letter. When you have finished leave a line space and close your letter with ‘Yours sincerely’. If you addressed the reader as ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, you should close with ‘Yours faithfully’.

One of the most trying aspects of getting a job when you have just graduated is the constant demand from companies asking for work experience from you. It can be demoralising but there is a way around it. Certain skills are highly admired in the engineering industry and so the best way to get yourself noticed when writing a cover letter is to parade the fact that you have those skills. You would do this in the main body of your letter. These skills include:

  • Knowledge – Basically, engineering is about solving problems so you need to ensure that it is obvious that you know how to do that. There is no better way than to demonstrate this than by making sure that your STEM skills get noticed. Highlight your Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics qualifications. If you are studying any of these subjects at post graduate level, make it clear that you are doing this because you are passionate about the subject.
  • Your ability to analyse - As mentioned earlier, engineering is about problem solving so therefore, you need to demonstrate this. Even if it is through a design that you have worked on independently, it would demonstrate your ability to analyse where problems lie and also again show that you are passionate about your subject.
  • Attention to detail - If you can highlight this as one of your strengths, you will be sure to get your application noticed as it is one of the most important skills an engineer can acquire. Therefore, if your dissertation establishes that during your research you had to apply particular attention to detail, you should point this out.
  • Team Player- When recruiters are looking for applicants to work on an engineering project, they have to make sure that anybody they employ can get along and work within a team. If you worked on team projects successfully while you were a student, point this out too.
  • Being able to communicate effectively on all levels – Being an engineer means that while you are working on a design, you will be using a tapestry of technical language. However, when you get out into the field and have to speak to clients, you need to be able to clarify the terms and expectations so that the lay person can understand what you mean. Essentially, therefore, your cover letter should be clear and concise but if you can elaborate on other occasions when you have put your excellent communication skills to good use, you can be sure of getting noticed by the recruiter.

A useful strategy to adopt is to research the company that you are applying to and then in a paragraph tell the recruiter why you would be proud to work for their company. The next step in this paragraph is to point out what you can do for their company. This paragraph will definitely get you noticed because companies love applicants that have done their homework and praise them but even more importantly, you are offering to do something for their company. Most applicants are usually wrapped up in what the company can do for them so when an applicant turns this around, they have more of a chance of getting an interview.

Before you send your application off, make sure that you check it carefully. Ask other people who you trust to read it and see if it highlights your strengths and builds a good picture of you. Also check for errors. When you are applying for a job as an engineer, this could spoil your chances because errors can be catastrophic in the engineering industry.

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