loading...
Cover image for How to Write a Cover Letter to Land Your First Dev Job

How to Write a Cover Letter to Land Your First Dev Job

jrdev_ profile image Jr. Dev πŸ‘¨πŸΎβ€πŸ’» Updated on ・5 min read

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a document which is sent accompanying your CV as part of a job application, and it is usually the first thing a recruiter will read, so it is important you get it right.

What Are We Going to Cover?

  1. Why it is important to have a good cover letter.
  2. Some tips on how you can improve your cover letter as part of your job application.

Motivation

At the beginning of the year, I began accompanying the HR manager and the lead developer in conducting interviews for web developers. Throughout the year I have been filtered through some CV’s and cover letters to offer my opinion on whether the candidate should be brought in for interviews. I have seen some good cover letters, and I have some seen some pretty poor ones (as well as CV’s but this a blog for another time). This is what has motivated me to create this article.

Why Should I Care?

The cover letter is most likely going to be the first thing the recruiter is going to read in your application. If your cover letter does not excite the recruiter, then you better have a pretty impressive CV!

I am sure you are familiar with the phrase that it only takes several seconds of meeting someone for them to form a first impression of you; well that sentiment applies here too. I could not believe the amount of cover letters I saw which were clearly copied and pasted from application to application; what a wasted opportunity.

If you are a junior developer, applying for your first dev role, then there is extra importance in a cover letter, because you really need to sell yourself. Following are some tips which can help you do just that…

Got Any Tips?

Firstly, this article does not intend to outline how you should structure your cover letter, or how you should sign and close it, etc. There are plenty of articles on the internet surrounding this topic and you should do your research on this matter if you are not familiar with it. Instead, I am going to tailor this article towards developers who are either; juniors trying to get their foot in the door, or experienced developers looking to level up and apply for higher positions than what they are currently working at.

Firstly...

first and foremost, do not copy and paste! If you do, all you are showing the recruiter is that you are; lazy, lack willingness and that you do not actually care about working at their company.

You need to tailor your cover letter by researching the company you are applying for. You can gather a lot of useful information in just a simple 5-minute search, which will help you with your application.

... It's Not All About You...

If you have followed the point above, then you have hopefully gained some insightful information about the company. Information which may help includes:

  • Why are the company hiring? Are they expanding? Is a new office opening? Is the position opening as another member has been promoted?

  • What is it that the company does? How and when did it start? Can you get an insight in to how the business has done in the last year or so?

With the information gained above, you can make your application a whole lot more personal. For example, a snippet of how you could use this information may include:

"I can see that you are expanding and I am confident I would become a key member of the team..."

"I have previously dealt with a very similar client base to yours..."

"I have a keen interest in working in the {industry name} industry due to…"

"I believe I can help {company name} continue its current rate of success by..."

Notice the subtleties in the above statements and apply them to your application. They make a big difference.

... But Some of It Is

I understand that you may be eagerly applying for every junior position under the sun, but there must be something about a particular position that excites you. My current position is at an aviation company who produce software for the ground staff and flight crew to interact with each other. At the time, I didn’t know I wanted to work in the aviation industry, but when I read the application, and I looked in to the product that they create, along with the company itself, it sounded pretty darn cool and I wanted them to know I thought that.

Bear in mind, that as a junior developer, you may be up against some candidates with more experience than you. Or, perhaps you are a self-taught developer and you are competing with computer science graduates, but this is not all a company is looking for when selecting applicants. They also want; someone with good soft skills, someone who will fit well in to their current teams, among other non-tech related skills. So just because you are competing with someone with a stronger technical background than you, it does not mean you are out of the race just yet!

You need to sound enthusiastic, eager to learn and confident in your current skills. Usually in a job advert, the application will outline what skills they are looking for. Pluck these words out of this list that suits you, and sell yourself on them. An example of required skills in a job ad might look something like this:

  • Strong problem-solving skills

  • Good communication skills, both written and verbal

  • Able to work as part of a team

  • Excellent attention to detail

  • Good organisational skills

  • Eager to learn

  • A strong work ethic

  • Being able to manage your own workload and prioritise accordingly

  • Good working knowledge of HTML and CSS

  • Knowledge of JavaScript and it’s common frameworks

Pick your strongest attributes from this list and sell yourself. It is a good idea to pick a couple of soft and hard skills here. Honestly, some of these are just buzzwords and you don’t even need to go in to much detail on them. Some example snippets may be:

"I pride myself on my communication skills..."

"Over the past year, I have been improving my knowledge of JavaScript by learning thoroughly which shows my eagerness to learn..."

"I can see that you are looking for someone who has good organisational skills and has excellent attention to detail and I believe I have just that..."

"I have good working knowledge of HTML and CSS, please refer to my website outlined in my CV..."

Finally

I know I said I wasn’t going to make this a lesson on structure, but a couple of points to bear in mind are:

  • keep the length of a cover letter to about half a side of A4, approximately 3-5 short paragraphs.
  • If you have a name to address from the job application, use it. It makes it more personal.

To Summarise:

  • Do not copy and paste cover letters between applications.
  • Research the company you are applying for and include the relevant information you have found in your cover letter.
  • Use the job advert to help you focus on the skills the company is looking for in a candidate and use this in your application.
  • Keep your cover letter short, relevant and concise.

What Did We Learn?

Hopefully, now you know the importance of a cover letter, and you have some new tips on how to improve your applications in order to land that job.

Good luck!

Posted on by:

jrdev_ profile

Jr. Dev πŸ‘¨πŸΎβ€πŸ’»

@jrdev_

Software developer working in the aviation industry

Discussion

markdown guide
 
 

I don't want to come across as rude here, but I believe the term is typically "cover letter". I've never even heard "covering letter" in the decade I've been in this industry.

Edit: I found it as an occasional British synonym, but could find literally no other instance in a web search beyond Wikipedia and the dictionary, even when I skewed it to UK only! It's certainly not the convention, and it's likely to earn you or your readers some really weird looks in most places.

 

Hi Jason, thanks for your comment. covering letter is the term used in the UK where I am from.

 

For fun, did you have an example of a cover letter; p , but for someone who is looking for another job opportunity n he wants that the process is rapidly done if he will be contacted for an interview or not, so let's make the process simple and with the interview, you can ask him for motivation, has been working with similar projects or clients, etc .., but I don't know if I'm making a good strategy!