How to Write an Engineering Cover Letter
Engineers design and develop a range of concepts and products across a diverse range of industries. These industries include construction, design, architecture, automobile and aviation.
The wide range of sectors in the engineering field means that there are plenty of opportunities for career progression and specialization in a certain field. While the competition is fierce, highly skilled engineers are always in demand.
A key aspect of success in the engineering industry is ensuring that you make yourself stand out; a well-written engineering cover letter is a key element of this.
In the article below, we will explain how to write an engineering cover letter that makes an impact.
When applying for a job, a cover letter provides the hiring manager with an insight into your skills and experience.
A well-written cover letter is a crucial element of reaching the first interview stages. When a hiring manager has hundreds of applications to select candidates from, cover letters are used to determine which candidates to bring forward into the interview stage.
A cover letter that clearly outlines key qualifications and experience, and is written in an interesting and informative way, will help to improve your chances of being noticed as a good match for the role.
An engineering cover letter is a useful tool when applying for an engineering-based role at a new company or for a promotion within the company that you already work within.
A well-written resume is also vital, but an engineering cover letter allows you to differentiate yourself from the other candidates, personalizing your application to meet the needs of a specific role or company.
An engineering cover letter should be personalized to specifically target the position that you are applying for.
You can use the job description for the role to determine which of your **skills and experiences** to highlight in your cover letter. It is important to include information about your specific experiences, skills and training that will allow your application to stand out.
Your resume outlines your qualifications, but your cover letter should expand on the qualifications that you have.
You can use your engineering cover letter as an opportunity to discuss how these qualifications could be used to benefit you while working within the role. You can also explain how your qualifications put you in a unique position to achieve success in the role.
For different level engineering roles, from entry-level positions to senior ones, you will need to demonstrate different levels of ability.
Engineering is a career choice that requires plenty of knowledge and experience, in addition to in-depth training. Some hiring managers will insist on only hiring engineers with an engineering degree, however, there is also the option of training while you work. Many engineering companies offer apprenticeships for promising candidates.
To achieve success as an engineer, you must be able to hone your interpersonal skills, including working well as part of a team, offering high standards of customer service and being comfortable working with third parties, such as agencies and contractors.
Hiring managers look for professional engineers who have the confidence and the ability to be an asset to the team and contribute to company success.
A well-rounded engineering cover letter should start by listing key qualifications, then explaining industry experience, followed by providing examples.
When writing a cover letter, it can be difficult to know where to start. However, if you have a structure to follow, it becomes easier.
It is important to keep the information clear and concise; ideally, your engineering cover letter should be no longer than one page of A4.
Regardless of how the letter is being sent – in the post or via email – make sure to structure it like a traditional letter.
This means including details such as your name, home address and contact information, a date, and any other key details.
The first step is to do some digging to find out who the hiring manager is for the role so that you can address your cover letter directly to them.
Addressing the hiring manager directly creates a good first impression.
When addressing a female hiring manager use the term ‘Ms’ rather than ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’. If you are not able to find the hiring manager’s details, simply say ‘Dear Hiring Manager’.
The first paragraph of your cover letter is where the hiring manager will create their impression of you, so the tone must be perfect. Ideally, you want to come across enthusiastic about the role and industry but also professional – you need to ensure that you get the balance right.
It’s good practice to state the role you are applying for and where you saw the advertisement for it. If possible, focus on a section of the advert in your opening paragraph to help demonstrate your ability to meet the job requirements.
It is also a good idea to explain how your skills in engineering put you in an ideal position to meet the requirements of the advertised role.
You could say something such as:
When I heard about the opening at 123 Engineering, I felt that it was the ideal fit for my skills and experience.
The second paragraph is the ideal place to talk specifically about your accomplishments that relate to the role.
Whether you have some examples from previous roles or from during your training, you can discuss these here to reinforce your suitability for the role.
This paragraph is the ideal time to discuss what sets you apart from the other candidates who may have many of the same qualifications and levels of experience that you have.
Talk about specific examples of past experience that would link directly to the role – you want to ensure that you are of interest to the hiring manager.
For example, if you have previously led the team managing a new structural engineering project, such as building a new bridge, you could say:
Three years ago, if you had told me that I would lead the team that built the new Mars Bridge, I would never have believed you.
This allows you to easily state a big achievement in a way that instantly draws attention to it.
Your resume will have outlined your qualifications, so don’t make the mistake of doing the same again in your engineering cover letter. Instead, use the paragraph to expand on your qualifications, linking back to ones of specific relevance to the role.
You can discuss how well your results compared to your peers – were you top of the class, for instance? You can talk about how you received extra credit or how you completed an internship.
The aim is to add further depth to your qualifications. This could mean talking about how your MSC from an ABET-accredited university allowed you to forge the career that you have built today.
Or, this could mean talking about how you earned your license via the NCESS FE exam, and how that particular exam helped you to get to where you are today.
Use this paragraph to talk about the job posting. Most job adverts include a list of vital and desirable traits that applicants should have; take the time to discuss these and how your knowledge and experience fit each one.
By discussing how you can meet the job requirements, you can demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the role.
Your final paragraph should be short and snappy.
Creating a final paragraph that is both concise and memorable can take some thought. It needs to conclude your key points about what makes you the best candidate for the job.
It is also a good idea to incorporate a call to action. Don’t just end your letter with ‘Thank you for taking my application into consideration’, suggest a meeting or a telephone call in the first instance.
Ensure that you end the letter with a professional signature, such as ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Yours faithfully’.
Hiring managers like to see passion from applicants, so your engineering cover letter must show why you’re enthusiastic about the job.
Before you start your cover letter, take the time to think about why you’re applying for this role in particular – what is it about this role that appeals to you?
Maybe a project that you previously worked on would tie perfectly into the role.
Perhaps you have always wanted to work for the company that’s recruiting.
Maybe the company is well-known for having an incredible work culture and that’s why you’re so keen to join the team.
By sharing why you want the job, you can create a stronger cover letter.
A key aspect of writing a strong cover letter for an engineering role is taking the time to do your research into the role and company. Hiring managers like to see candidates who are interested in the company and its culture, and background research is crucial for that.
Take the time to visit the company’s website and read the information on it. It’s also worth taking a look at the company’s social media channels to gain further insight into their communications and culture.
It’s also worth scouring the news to see if there is any coverage of the company currently that you could mention.
You will find that most engineering job adverts will explicitly note the kinds of skills and experience required for the role.
The trick for success here is to cherry-pick a few key skills and pieces of experience to include that meet the job requirements.
You could also include examples of similar projects you have been involved in.
For instance, say you are applying for a role as an electrical engineer for a role where the focus is on risk assessment, you might want to talk about any relevant work experience that you have.
I had the opportunity to work with the senior electrical engineer on a large-scale design project, making sure that all relevant health and safety precautions were put in place and accurately monitored.
If you are just starting out in the engineering sector, you can draw on your academic experience and any relevant work experience you have.
If you are in a position where you don’t have the required experience for every skill mentioned, think creatively about how you approach the topics and think about your transferable skills; how you can demonstrate them and how they relate.
To increase your chances of success, it’s important to outline your training and qualifications in your engineering cover letter.
You could say something along the lined of:
As a fully qualified design engineer, I have completed several projects in the field of...
If you have entered the engineering sector via an apprenticeship, make sure to mention all of the on-the-job training and exams you have passed.
Talk about how each qualification or training program has enhanced and improved your ability to work to high standards as a professional engineer.
A cover letter should provide the hiring manager with a better insight into not only your previous experience in the sector but also your future aspirations.
While hiring managers want to learn as much as possible about your previous experience working in engineering, it is also important to provide an insight into your future career goals and how you see the role fitting into those.
For instance, say you have worked in mechanical engineering since graduating from college, taking on a mechanical engineering grad scheme and then moving into a senior role, you could explain that you have always been passionate about mechanical engineering and are keen to build the rest of your career within this field, which is why the role is ideal for you.
Dear [Hiring Manager],
I am writing to apply for the position of Mechanical Engineer at MKat Construction Inc. I have six years of experience working within the engineering sector, with a special interest in mechanical engineering.
Over the past six years, I have developed my career as an expert in mechanical engineering, with a particular interest in automobiles and aviation. For my previous employer, 123 Designs, I worked under the senior mechanical engineer to help deliver a diverse range of major projects on time and within budget. While at 123 Designs, I also had the opportunity to work on the Eco Plane 2018 project, a mechanical engineering project that won the 2019 award for mechanical innovation.
As you can see from my resume, I have an MSc in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I graduated top of my class and won the campus 2014 prize for mechanical excellence. I have been fascinated by mechanical engineering ever since I was a child, and have consistently strived to further improve and hone my knowledge of this topic, undertaking numerous courses to further my insight.
Your advert states that you require someone who is a fast, efficient and highly productive worker, while also being proficient when it comes to key mechanical engineering tasks. As an engineering professional, I can work in a fast, efficient and productive way, and I am confident managing a wide range of tasks, from basic jobs to more in-depth projects.
I believe that the combination of my passion for mechanical engineering and my key skills and diverse experience within the field make me an ideal candidate for this role. To discuss this further, I would be happy to set up a meeting or telephone call.
A great engineering cover letter needs to ensure that you stand out. By using the right structure to guide your cover letter creation, you can make sure that all of the key points are covered.
Each cover letter needs to be written with the specific job in mind, taking into account the organization that the role is at. Hiring managers look for interesting and insightful cover letters that stand out and provide evidence of why you are the best candidate for the position.
One of the most important factors to remember is that your cover letter is designed to accompany your resume – it should not duplicate it but act as an additional resource that expands on your knowledge, skills and experience.