A compelling cover letter is a necessary companion to an engineering resume. Cover letters give engineering applicants the chance to show their personal attributes, convey their proprietary knowledge for the role and explain why they are the best fit.
On this page you’ll find examples of professionally written engineering cover letters as well as tips on how to get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, who tend to look for details specific to this highly technical field.
In addition to the Engineering Cover Letters, be sure to check out our Top Engineering Resume Examples & Pro Writing Tips
Professionally written engineering cover letter examples
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Decide what information to include.
Establish a professional tone.
Find the best words to express your qualifications; and
Format your cover letter correctly.
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What to include in an engineering cover letter
In addition to including the basic sections required of all cover letters — your contact information, a professional salutation, body copy that includes a compelling introduction and a closing with a call to action — every engineering cover letter should also:
Show your career accomplishments and specifically describe at least one project. Written either in paragraph form or called out in bullet points, they should be recent and directly applicable to the position you are applying to — and should also match some of the measurable achievements listed in your resume.
“At Berkeley ChemLab, I created I-TRAC (Install, troubleshoot, repair,analyze and calibrate), a scalable new production process that resulted in decreased overall costs, reduced lead times, and increased customer satisfaction. I received the BCL Outstanding Engineer Award in 2017 for the process, which was also instrumental in my promotion from Assistant Field Engineer to Field Engineer III in my first year with the company.”
Include the most relevant technical and industry skills important for the job, such as troubleshooting, system analysis, product testing, and applicable computer programs.
“Over my four years as a project manager for North Coast Construction, I honed my skills in roofing, waterproofing, forecasting and analysis; equipment testing and monitoring; creating project-progress reports; and scheduling.”
Demonstrate your applicable and relevant soft skills, such as communication, leadership, collaboration, creativity and stress tolerance.
“The last five years have taken me on quite a journey. I worked my way from QA associate to staff engineer to my current role as lead developer, managing a team of 10 developers while collaborating with a cross-functional team of marketing experts, designers and producers on a new game system platform.
Include a “motivation statement” that specifically explains why you’re excited about the job.
“My lifelong passion for environmental causes combined with my work as a biodiesel tester at Green Energy Group aligns with your renewable energy focus. I’d love to help fuel the company’s newest green energy initiative as a lead research engineer.”
Anatomy of an engineering cover letter
Development Operations Engineer
Here, Wyatt Vaughn, a former field quality reporter, used a monogram design for his cover letter, which he uses to show how his skills, experience and goals closely align with the role he’s applying for. Let’s look at his cover letter section by section.
- 1. Heading
The heading provides your contact information, the date and the address of the company to which you are applying.
The heading should always include the following:
Your phone number
Your city, state and ZIP code
Your email address
The hiring manager’s name
The name and address of the company to which you are applying
- 2. Salutation
The salutation is where you address employers politely and professionally. Don’t use generic terms, such as “To Whom it May Concern.” Instead, show your interest with a personalized greeting. Do some research to find the hiring manager’s name, and address them directly using formal conventions as shown in the example above.
- 3. Opening paragraph
A killer opening paragraph will catch the hiring manager’s attention and make them want to read more. To achieve this, convey confidence and excitement for the position from the get-go. Check to see if the company has shared any recent news and tie it into your opening statement. For example, “I read about your recent launch of [XYZ] product, and I was thrilled to see you had an opening for a development operations engineer on your product development team. I’m confident that the skills I’ve honed in my five years of experience as a field quality reporter have prepared me to excel at this position.”
- 4. Body
The body of a cover letter is where you show how your skills and experience match the position and convey clearly how your goals and interests align with the job and the company. Use details and examples to make your point that if hired, you will be able to help the organization succeed in reaching its goals. For example, mention a specific skill or two vital to the role and provide an example of how you used it in past positions to achieve a goal for the company or to improve a product. Use numbers to enhance your example.
- 5. Closing paragraph
Here’s your chance to really bring it home. Reiterate your interest in the job and your confidence that you’re the best candidate for it. Underscore your excitement by inviting the hiring manager to check out your resume and let them know you look forward to speaking with them about your credentials soon. End it with a call to action, such as “Please contact me at 555-555-1212 Monday through Friday between 8 am and 6 pm to arrange an interview.”
- 6. Signature
This is your sign-off. It should be respectful and professional like the rest of your cover letter. Strong standard examples include: “Sincerely,” “Respectfully,” “Best regards,” and “Thank you,”.
Do engineers really need a cover letter?
Yes! Just like candidates in other industries, engineers need cover letters because they:
Give candidates the chance to introduce themselves and give depth to their strengths, accomplishments, values and goals;
Help employers see the potential in a candidate;
Allow candidates to highlight unique selling points (such as a degree from a top university) and key skills that set them apart; and
Provide a way for candidates to express their enthusiasm for the job and knowledge of the company.
How long should my cover letter be?
Cover letters should be no more and no less than one page in length. If it’s too short then it will appear as if you’re not really interested and are just going through the motions. If it’s too long, it might translate as lacking focus and the ability to be Precise — two valuable attributes of an engineer. Plus, most employers do not have time to read more than one page, so best to find that middle ground.
Are there things I should avoid including in my engineering cover letter?
When writing an engineering cover letter, avoid:
Mentioning irrelevant projects or interests.
Rehashing your resume. A cover letter is meant to complement, not mimic, a resume.
Bringing up a negative experience, such as a layoff or the poor grade you received in math class your senior year of college.
Talking poorly about a former boss or teacher.
Looking “too eager.” It’s important to show enthusiasm and passion, but it’s even more important to exercise restraint when doing so. Otherwise you look desperate and unprofessional.
Spelling, formatting and grammar mistakes; inaccuracies, exaggerations and false information, which could easily cost you a job, even if you graduated top of your class.
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