Engineering cover letter example & writing guide
It is widely recognised that engineers are in short supply in the UK, but your engineering cover letter should still be given careful consideration.
Engineers are always on the shortage occupation list, meaning if you are coming from abroad and looking to live in the UK, you have a better chance of receiving sponsorship from an employer. There are many different types of engineers, including civil engineers, mechanical and electrical. Within these, there are further options. For instance, a civil engineer can choose to work on rails, roads, bridges, and many others. Most employers expect candidates to have a clear vision of where they want to work and why, so it is important to take care with your cover letter when applying for engineering jobs.
With your engineering cover letter, you have a degree of freedom to write as you see fit, but it is relatively short, so you need to get your message across concisely. Think of your engineering cover letter as the first stage of the engineering design process - identifying the need. What does the hiring manager want, and how can you portray that you can meet these needs through your cover letter?
You can use this guide along with the engineering cover letter examples to write your cover letter and ensure it meets an acceptable criterion. This is what you can expect to know by the end:
- The most appropriate cover letter format to use, including the essential paragraphs.
- How to make the most of the content of your cover letter and ensure they are good enough to get you to the next stage.
- How to plan the writing of your engineering cover letter and avoid the usual mistakes.
Take a look at this guide below for some useful information on the best way to approach your cover letter to ensure you stand out from the other applicants. You can also use our cover letter example as a reference, or any of the other cover letter examples in our library.
Best format for an engineering cover letter
The format of your engineering cover letter is the first place to start. These are the elements you’ll find in our engineering cover letter samples:
- The header of the engineering cover letter
- Who the cover letter is addressed to, i.e., the greeting/salutation
- The introduction – how you intend to start the cover letter
- The bones of the cover letter, i.e., the body/middle section
- Your conclusion and any call to action you want to add
As mentioned earlier, it is important to be clear about the type of engineer you are, your relevant expertise, and your qualifications. Engineers need to be qualified, so you should state your relevant qualifications on your cover letter. You may also want to mention your experience with any specific software packages mentioned on the job spec. For instance, experience with CAD (computer-aided design) is often essential for an engineer.
The comprehensive cover letter guide is a good point of reference for some more in-depth knowledge about writing your engineering cover letter.
Cover letter header
Your cover letter header is located at the top of the cover letter, and although it is not the most exciting part of your cover letter, it does contain critical information. The cover letter header should contain details about how the hiring manager can contact you. For example, your telephone number, email address, and if appropriate, your postal address. Although this information is also on your CV, you should still put them on your cover letter.
Make sure you recheck your personal details before submitting your application and use a professional email address.
If you’re updating a cover letter you already have, make sure the personal details are correct and active. Always use a professional email, don’t use anything that is designed to be amusing or that you set up when you were 12 years old and haven’t changed yet. Also, try to refrain from using an email address you share with a partner, such as [email protected]. It is quick and easy to set up your own email address, so there is no excuse.
Although this may not seem important, it is and hiring managers may even go as far as to reject a candidate based on an inappropriate email address.
What to achieve with your cover letter: The cover letter should have your contact details and be professionally minded. You may or may not want to include your social media handles too. Make sure you use our cover letter examples for a frame of reference.
Cover letter greeting
Engineers are professionals, and they understand the importance of making a good impression. They deal with clients on important projects, and they need to be respectful. Think of your cover letter greeting as your handshake when you first meet a client. It needs to be respectful, personable, and to suit the recipient.
Although it is perfectly acceptable to write ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ in an email, you should refrain from doing this on your engineering cover letter. If you know the recipient’s name, you can write “Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms. Surname”, don’t just write their first name. If you don’t know the name of the recipient, you can write “Dear Recruitment Team”, “Dear Hiring Manager” or similar.
What to achieve with your cover letter greeting: As with a client meeting, you want to be formal, but personable. Use the recipient’s name where possible, but refrain from using their first name (it’s a little too informal.) Use the cover letter sample provided to help with your greeting.
Cover letter introduction
First, you want to start your engineering cover letter with an introduction. It only needs to be a couple of sentences, but it should instantly give the reader a feel for who you are and what you want.
Within engineering, the hiring manager wants to understand more about your desire to work in a specific area, and why you are not a candidate to be missed.
Make sure you home in on the specifics, for instance, if you have a desire to work in civil engineering, but specifically in transportation and rail, make sure this is prevalent in the introduction. The hiring manager wants to be sure that you are as passionate about this area, as they are. This is how the engineering sector operates.
Set the scene with your introduction. Why are you applying and what can you offer? This can be achieved in just a couple of concise sentences.
What to achieve with your cover letter intro: give the reader reassurance that you have a desire for the field you are applying to. Make sure you instantly show that you have the right experience for the job. Use our cover letter sample below to help you write the introduction.
“Due to my 3 years’ work on the Western Region rail bridge replacement scheme, I have a strong interest and passion for railway civil engineering and would relish the opportunity to work for your company.”
Cover letter middle part (body)
The middle part, or body, of the cover letter contains the main aspects of your career, and for an engineering cover letter, you should mention your qualifications and any professional memberships. If you can quantify elements of your experience, this will also be extremely useful. For instance, the size of the teams you have worked with and the value of projects. The main objective is to encourage the hiring manager to want to read your CV and take you through to the next stage of the recruitment process.
You may want to use some bullet points to show your key experience and achievements so that the reader can quickly see that you have the right qualities for the role. You can tailor this aspect to suit the job you are applying for, and the key requirements they have stated. Remember that readers may only skim through the engineering cover letter, so it should stand out.
Engineers are typically well paid, but this is not the aspect you want to focus on. Working in engineering usually involves career progression and it is most suited to individuals that can work autonomously, but with a team, as required. They should also be able to deal with clients and communicate well. Engineers are analytical, creative, problem solvers and this should be reflected in your cover letter. You will have a better chance of getting it right by using our cover letter examples.
What to achieve with the body of your cover letter: What qualities can you bring to the role? What are your main abilities and achievements? What can the hiring manager expect you to bring to the organisation? Use the cover letter sample below for some inspiration.
After achieving a 1st Class Degree at UCL in Civil Engineering, I have since gone on to specialise in rail. I have worked with several large engineering organisations and have been responsible for projects worth over £6M.
I have experience in a range of software, including AutoCAD and Civil 3D.
Working on high-profile infrastructure projects, including the Western Region rail bridge replacement scheme, I was responsible for ensuring the project design was completed on time, to the required standard, and within budget. I exceeded the expectations of the client for this project and received an ‘Employee of the Month’ reward as a result.
How to close an engineering cover letter (conclusion and sign-off)
Your conclusion should be confident and self-assured, without coming across as arrogant. The best way to finish off your engineering cover letter is to reaffirm why you feel you are right for the job.
If there’s anything particularly unique about yourself or your experience, you may want to mention it here. If the hiring manager has read your cover letter and is still unsure, the conclusion could be a good way to entice them to be worried not to take your application further. Leave them with something they won’t be able to resist.
There is nothing wrong with making it clear that you are excited about the prospect of meeting the hiring manager to discuss your experience in more detail and to visit their offices. You should always be aware of your audience. If you are applying for an engineering role in a small company, it would not be appropriate to mention that you are excited at the prospect of potential career progression. This is unlikely to be possible soon, and therefore, it will instantly make them apprehensive about hiring you.
Take a look at the cover letter sample below for an idea of how to deal with the conclusion on your cover letter. You should reaffirm your interest and include a call to action.
What to achieve with the conclusion: Let the employer know why you are the right person, and why they should take you forward to the next stage.
After doing research, I’ve found the prospect of working for your company extremely exciting. I would like to be able to discuss my experience and the potential of joining your company in more detail. I would welcome a favourable response to my application
Writing psychology: how to show your work ethic in your cover letter
Your engineering cover letter should be structured well and be easy to read. It can be personable but professional and give the reader an insight into your personality. You should be able to show your interest in the industry and any relevant experience you have, such as important projects you have worked on, as this will instantly give you more credibility. If you can quantify your achievements, this will also be beneficial.
With your engineering cover letter, these are the main goals to help you get through to the next stage:
- Make sure you have described your main area of engineering, and why you are interested in this.
- Mention your relevant qualifications, and any professional accreditation you have – this is vital in engineering.
- Describe your areas of experience and quantify your expertise with any projects you have worked on, particularly if these are widely recognised.
Engineering is an autonomous role. Hiring managers do not expect to hire an engineer and hold their hand. They expect them to get to work on their own quickly. However, there is a lot of communication and discussion involved in engineering. You would be expected to be someone that can get the job done without much instruction, but also work well with others.
You should be assured about the area of engineering you want to work in and why. As with the cover letter sample, you should state any significant piece of work that has enticed you into this branch of engineering. It is also imperative that you are someone with a good qualification and are committed to personal and professional development. Engineers should always be looking to improve on their technical skills and abilities.
Share a specific project you worked on and what you enjoyed about it
It can sometimes be difficult to get a real feel for someone just going by what they say. That’s the difficulty hiring managers often have. However, if you can support your claims with examples, this will give them a much clearer idea of your capabilities. This doesn’t mean you need to rhyme off everything you’ve worked on, but just the most memorable. For example, a high-value project.
Engineering cover letter with no experience
It is more difficult to get a job in engineering without experience, but many companies offer graduate schemes, or they may start you as an assistant engineer. If you don’t have any experience yet, you can do the following to increase your prospect of securing work:
- Show your passion for the specific part of engineering you would be specialising in.
- Give examples of why you want to specialise in this area. It may need to be projects from university.
- Discuss transferable skills, such as innovation and creativity.
- Focus on your qualifications and other professional qualifications and discuss what you learned that would be appropriate for the role.
Basic mistakes in an engineering application letter (and how to avoid them)
As an engineer, you need to be precise and pay attention to detail. Therefore, it is vital that you are attentive when writing your engineering cover letter, and don’t make any mistakes.
These are some of the most basic mistakes to avoid.
- Spelling and grammar. This is one of the most common mistakes on a cover letter and one that can be extremely off-putting for the hiring manager. When you’re in a job that requires writing documents, emails, etc, you must show your professionalism by checking the spelling and grammar thoroughly. Most programs have a spell-check included, and there is also Grammarly for a more in-depth assessment.
- Too long. A cover letter should not be too long, it should get to the point quickly and lead the reader onto your CV. The format should be concise too, with bullet points, where applicable. Make it as easy as possible for the reader to digest the key information.
- Casual or overly formal. With your engineering cover letter, there is a fine line between being too casual or overly formal. The language you use should sit somewhere in the middle. It should be respectful. Treat it like a discussion, not like a piece of academic work.
- Poor formatting. The layout and design of your cover letter says a lot about what type of candidate you are. Make sure you keep a good balance of white space to text and create a professional, yet eye-catching header. You can save yourself a bit of time by using a free cover letter template.
- Explain why you are interested in the specialism you are applying for. For instance, a civil engineer working in rail. Be specific, not general.
- Provide examples of relevant projects you have worked on, specifically those that are high value. You can use University examples if you have no work experience.
- Discuss your qualifications and the key learnings.
- Check your spelling and grammar thoroughly.
- Use our cover letter examples for reference throughout.