Your entry level engineering cover letter is a one-page standard letter that acts as an introduction to your resume. The idea behind a cover letter is that it gives your prospective employer an introduction to you and piques their curiosity enough to get them to read your resume. It is a marketing tool to promote your resume and should be treated as such.
For entry level engineers, the cover letter can be critical. Managers are swapped with hundreds of applications for entry level engineering positions. This is true for civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and all other engineering disciplines. Just because you have a college degree, does not mean you automatically get an engineering job. Your cover letter will need to be great to help raise you to the top of the stack so your resume gets read. Let me show you how you can do it.
Entry Level Engineering Cover Letter Format
Your standard cover letter should be formatted like a typical business letter. You will need to customize your cover letter for each specific job you apply for. Here's the formula that you should follow for writing your cover letter.
Cover Letter - Paragraph One
The first paragraph is the most important paragraph because it is the one that has the highest chance of being read. It should be broken down into two halves:
The first half of paragraph one should state how you heard about the job. This can be through a specific website, your university’s career center, an advertisement or any other means. If you have been referred to the company by a current employee, be sure to state who referred you.
The second half of the paragraph introduces yourself in a way that shows that you meet the minimum qualifications for the job. Many people who apply for the jobs will not be qualified. You want to quickly show that are qualified so the manager will keep on reading.
Cover Letter - Paragraph Two
The second paragraph describes your top three qualifications that will appeal to your prospective employer. You don’t want to go overboard on this paragraph. Just provide enough information to get the employer interested enough to read your resume. When selecting which three things to highlight in this paragraph, try to select three different skills instead of three things that highlight one skill. If you have any real-world engineering experiences through internships or jobs, you will want to mention them here.
Be sure to read the job description for the position carefully. If the description mentions any specific required skills or experiences that you posses, be sure to include that information.
Cover Letter - Paragraph Three
The third paragraph describes why you want to work at that company and why you would be a good fit. Most people use a generic statement for why they want to work at a company, but the more specific you can make it, the better. A more specific reason shows that you are not just sending out your resume to a hundred companies, but that you are actually passionate about working at this particular one. Examples of a specific reason for wanting to work at a company include the specific work the company specializes in, the professional reputation of the company or good referrals from employees that currently work there. Employers want to hire people who are excited to work at their company.
Cover Letter - Closing Statement
The closing statement should do three things:
State that your resume has been enclosed.
Thank the employer for considering you for the position.
Say that you look forward to further discussing what you can bring to the firm.
Important Entry Level Engineering Cover Letter Rules
The following are the basic cover letter rules that you should follow. You will probably notice that many of these rules are similar to the rules you should use on your resume.
Length: Cover letters should only be one page.
Color: All type on the cover letter should be in black.
Font: Use a standard business letter font like Times New Roman.
Language: Do not start every sentence with the word “I". Do not use acronyms. Be careful not to have run-on sentences. Make sure every sentence reads clearly and easily. Use positive language.
Address: The cover letter should be addressed to an actual person if you know who the hiring manager is. If you do not know who it is, call the company and ask who the letter should be addressed to. If you are responding to an online advertisement, address the cover letter to “Dear Engineering Hiring Manager:”
Content: If the job description requires certain skills that you have, be sure to include those in the cover letter.
Printing: Printing your cover letter on resume paper will help it stand out and seem more professional. If you are sending it out electronically, send it as a PDF.
Distribution: Hand out original copies signed in blue pen. Do not hand out copied versions of your cover letter.
Double Check It: I can not count the number of cover letters I have received that been addressed to another company, have another person's name in it or some other typo. These cover letters and resumes immediately get rejected. If an engineer is not going to pay attention to their cover letter, how can I expect them to pay attention to their work?
Internet Cover Letters for Entry Level Engineers
Like physical resumes, physical cover letters are dying. While you still need to prepare this letter, most companies are moving toward online job applications. Some online job applications have completely removed the need for a cover letter. Others will provide a text box to write in your cover letter. These types of cover letters are slightly different than your standard cover letter.
Internet cover letters are shorter than standard cover letters. Keep them between 100-150 words. No paragraph should be over three sentences. They should clearly state the job you are applying for and why you would be a good fit. An example of an internet cover letter has been included along with the hard copy example.
Entry Level Engineering Resume
A cover letter is only as good as the resume behind it. No matter how good a cover letter is, it will never cover up a bad resume. Entry level engineering jobs are competitive. If you want to make sure you get the one you want, you need to have an awesome resume.
The Job Formula has developed The Winning Entry-Level Engineering Resume to help entry level engineers write their first resume and get their first job. Get your free copy by clicking on the link or signing up below.
I wish you all the engineering success possible. Indeed, I hope you conquer the job market and change world! Don’t let anyone or anything stop you.