As a software engineer, you analyze the user’s needs and develop and test software to meet those needs. With communication and collaboration, you apply engineering principles to software development to make it happen—while integrating data and tucking it away for future problem-solving.
Your process includes recommending software upgrades, translating data into action, coordinating with software and programming teams, and documenting improvements to address clients’ concerns. You also do your share of planning, strategizing, and hands-on work with programming and database tools.
You’re ready for your next job, but first, you’ll need to write a software engineer resume and cover letter that attests to your job skills. Most dread writing cover letters, but we’ll ease the process with these software engineering cover letter examples and pointers.
Software Engineer Cover Letter Example
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Why this cover letter works
- Jerry has researched the company values and paid attention to the requirements in the job ad since he references specific requirements (like Linux, C#, and Vector) and pulls phrasing from both the job ad and company mission statement. He also cites experience in meeting similar goals to those of the company.
- Software engineers should be bought into the company’s values—make sure you demonstrate an interest in those values right away in your software engineer cover letter and show previous examples of how you’ve supported them.
- Chipton-Ross’ “About” page emphasizes customer satisfaction and gearing its services toward the staffing industry, so Jerry mentions both. He also shows he can work efficiently on a large scale since he’s applying to a bigger company.
- Even if the software engineer job description is brief, there are always specific requirements you can build upon, especially if you visit the company’s website to glean more details.
Software Engineer Intern Cover Letter Example
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Why this cover letter works
- How about unlocking the hidden potential of a previous internship experience to make your software engineer intern cover letter punchy?
- For example, Amara’s stint as an intern at Esurgi shows her using PostgreSQL for database management, providing the recruiter with tangible evidence of her competency even as an intern. How you weave in this tale matters, though. Outline your responsibility and impact catalyzed by your contribution. Top it off with the lessons learned.
Entry-Level Software Engineer Cover Letter Example
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Why this cover letter works
- Remember that personal project that called for applying your software engineering knowledge? The hiring manager is itching to hear about that hands-on adventure in your entry-level software engineer cover letter.
Python Software Engineer Cover Letter Example
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Why this cover letter works
- Rushdown Studios has a strong, bold personality, so Sarah lets hers shine, too.
- She references her experience as a gamer and a Python software engineer, both of which are focal points in the job description and the company as a whole.
- Python software engineers must meet specific job requirements, so dive into this stat. Show your interest by citing examples that support it!
- Rushdown’s job ad stresses that its creations are for gamers, by gamers: So, Sarah references games the company’s worked on while giving examples of how she’s solved specific goals it mentions, like working with pre-existing code.
- References to the “Twisted Treeline” and her “ultimate ability” show her experience with League of Legends, a Rushdown game, to reinforce her connection with the company.
- The company culture and vision aren’t always as obvious or boldly stated as Rushdown’s, but with some online digging, you can find a company goal, obstacle, or core value to tie to your experience when writing your Python software engineer cover letter.
Senior Software Engineer Cover Letter Example
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Why this cover letter works
- Beverly references the Cancer Data Sciences group from the job description, leveraging a personal anecdote that shows sincere interest in the role. She then launches into her relevant skills and how they match up with the job requirements.
- Beverly follows up the initial overview of her skills by tying up her senior software engineer cover letter intro with a nod to UCLA Health’s mission statement—a perfect way to connect with the company!
- UCLA Health emphasizes two major points in its job description: technical skills and the ability to grow and create scalable products. Its website also focuses on cutting-edge technology, so Beverly leverages these points well.
- Demonstrating big-picture thinking, Beverly concludes her letter by referencing additional goals from the job description and stating how her abilities align.
- Remember that researching the company can uncover a gold mine if the job description is sparse.
Write Your Best Software Engineer Cover Letter
All in all, the best cover letter will demonstrate a strong understanding and connection with the company. A software engineer can do this by using their technical skills to relate to the role in the job description coupled with the company’s overall vision and goals—all with a winning tone and positive message, of course!
Use the following steps to guide your writing process so you can write your best cover letter yet.
Step 1: Know the company & understand the role
So many cover letters out there are snooze-fests that wind up in the recycling bin. To ensure yours isn’t one of them, pay attention to the details of the specific software engineer position you’re applying for and tailor your cover letter accordingly.
Read the software engineer job ad. Keep an eye out for things that set it apart—details like specific programming languages and software strategies, for example.
Research the company, too! Your software engineer cover letter must not only demonstrate a crystal-clear understanding of the role as laid out in the job description but prove that you’re a great fit with the company’s values, goals, and core missions. Just a handful of details showing that you know the company’s vision and software engineer role better than the average applicant will go a long way in setting you apart from other applicants.
Step 2: Align your successes with the company’s needs
Your software engineer resume offers recruiters a quick peek at your skills and professional history. Since it’s less than a page, you don’t have much space within your bullet points to give a more extensive explanation of how your skills and experience make you an ideal candidate for the specific position. That’s the job of your cover letter!
Touch upon the best points in your software engineer resume but expand upon them with descriptions of how you accomplished said achievements as well as the positive impact they had. Don’t just talk about what you created—talk about what it did to benefit others.
- Taking this a step further, your resume might list your Python and MySQL skills—but how did you apply them during your last job?
- Did you build an application that boosted profit margins and kept them growing after you departed?
- Did you engineer an analytical or testing application that significantly reduced bug and error reports?
- Maybe you singlehandedly optimized an application to skyrocket customer satisfaction rates: If you did, say so!
This is your opportunity to show off your greatest accomplishments anecdotally and tie them into what the job description requests.
Tip 3: Don’t underestimate your tone & message
As you can probably imagine, there’s a lot more that goes into a cover letter for software engineers besides technical information. The overall message of your letter should mirror the qualities that the job listing calls for and demonstrate the values and vision of the company as a whole. You don’t want to just convey that you’re a software engineer who can work wherever—your message needs to convey that you want to work there!
As a software engineer with a vast array of technical skills and fascinating professional experiences, it might be tricky—but keep your cover letter to a page. And within that space, consider your tone of voice.
Your tone should match the role: Senior software engineer candidates should convey confidence and experience, and all applicants (especially entry-level ones) should demonstrate enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute to the company.
Additionally, consider the company culture and vibes. Working for a healthcare company likely means you should take a bit more formal tone while employers at a gaming company will probably appreciate a little pizazz and a more conversational approach.
Software engineer candidates should convey confidence, experience, and demonstrate eagerness to contribute to the company.
Lastly, set aside time for editing and revising. It may take several tries to get the message and tone of your cover letter just right, but the extra effort is worth it! Ensure you clean up embarrassing typos or copy-paste mishaps in your cover letter, and be deliberate about word choice to refine your tone.
Start with Our Outline for Your Software Engineer Cover Letter
Outlining your software engineer cover letter is a great way to make sure you don’t forget any key points. And just as formatting your resume is important, format matters in your cover letter, too; we’ve got you covered.
How to start a software engineer cover letter
Your contact info: List your name, phone number, location, and email (if you’re using a templated cover letter).
- Formatting: Leave out your name here if you’re using a business block format for your address.
Date: Use the exact date that you submit your application materials
- Formatting: Write out the full date instead of shortening it, e.g., January 5, 2023.
Inside address: This is the recipient’s address. Include their name, company and position, and the company’s address.
Clive Russo, Hiring Manager
UCLA Health Human Resources
4562 Larwin Ave
Cypress, California 90630
- Formatting: Each part of the address should be on a new line. Remember to double-space between the inside address and your greeting, too.
Greeting: Your greeting/salutation is your crucial first impression! Do your homework and uncover the name of the hiring manager or employer, avoiding generic terms like “To whom it may concern,” and please, at all costs, never start with “Dear Sir or Madam.” Ick!
- Formatting: Use a colon instead of a comma after your greeting for more formal companies. Companies like Rushdown (see the Python software engineer cover letter sample) are far more casual; a comma will do just fine.
How to write your software engineer cover letter
Body: The body of your software engineer cover letter should be 3-4 paragraphs that demonstrate your interest, show off your credentials, and exhibit an appropriate level of enthusiasm for future discussion.
- Formatting: Lines should be single-spaced throughout the body but double-spaced between paragraphs.
Opening paragraph: Don’t be generic or vague. The last thing you want is for a potential employer to say “Boring!” and toss your cover letter aside.
Bad: I really like gaming, so it’d be great if I could work for your company. I’m familiar with plenty of technical tools that would help your company.
Why It’s Bad: Based on what we just discussed, this cover letter has already been tossed. It’s great that the applicant apparently loves gaming and has technical skills—but exactly how will they help the company . . .? What “technical tools” are they?
Good: As a Python software engineer with 5 years of experience alongside countless more as an avid gamer, I’m confident I would make a skilled and valuable addition to Rushdown’s team. Just as I live for each new gaming challenge in Twisted Treeline, I thrive in environments that challenge my strategic planning and creative use of skills such as PostgreSQL, AWS, and Docker.
Why It’s Good: This introductory paragraph dives into the applicant’s experience and demonstrates a strong personal connection with the company’s passion for gaming—all while exploring technical skills the job description specifically listed in its requirements section. Nice!
Paragraphs 2-3: These paragraphs are for you to shine the spotlight on your best achievements that align with the job ad and with the company’s goals, values, and mission.
It’s time to put your money where your mouth is—but remember to maintain a clear focus in each paragraph. You don’t have room for all your awesome achievements, so try to stick with one major point per paragraph and include only the most relevant metrics and results.
My talent in engineering and developing large, highly responsive UX-personalization applications that can scale with rapidly growing datasets empowered me to engineer algorithmic software that responded and adapted to customers’ individualized needs based on personal history. This boosted sales by 19 percent, and I’m confident that this experience would translate seamlessly from improving customer experience to streamlining workflow for medical staff to care for patients more effectively.
Why It’s Good: Beverly highlights something from the job description that she’s already done (engineering large-scale algorithmic software) and provides the number as evidence of her claim. She also clarifies exactly how this accomplishment will benefit the place where she’s applying now, even though her past experiences were applied within a very different type of company.
Closing paragraph: Finish strong with a concise but compelling statement of how your traits and abilities as a software engineer align with what the company or organization needs. And lastly, end with an enthusiastic call to action that encourages future contact with the company.
Bad: As you can see in my letter, I’m well qualified for this position and would do a great job with my skills. Call me anytime for more info and I can tell you more about the other stuff I can do.
Why It’s Bad: Where do we even start with this one? Your cover letter should be specific, adding more tidbits on why you’re an excellent fit whenever possible. This redundant first sentence and boring, informal call to action are inexcusable.
Good: The strong team culture at Chipton-Ross resonates with me as I enjoy thinking analytically to resolve questions of program intent and translating documentation and data into helpful operating instructions for my coworkers. I welcome further discussion, so please contact me for details on how my software engineering experience will benefit your team and maximize client savings.
Why It’s Good: This one works. You can see how the applicant’s traits and experience align with the company’s values, and there are several keywords that came straight from the job description. Additionally, the call to action is welcoming yet professional while reinforcing the candidate’s value to the company.
How to end a software engineer cover letter
Signature: Say “thank you” if you didn’t do that in your closing paragraph, and always use a professional close along with your real name.
Thank you for considering me to join your team,
- Formatting: If you’re handing out hard copies of your software engineer cover letter (anyone out there still doing this?), quadruple-space before your name. This allows space to sign by hand in blue/black ink.
Enclosure(s): This part of your cover letter is important since it signals the recruiter to look over any supplemental materials. Pay attention to the job description for requested materials like certifications or letters of recommendation.
Letter of Recommendation
- Formatting: Make sure you use the correct singular or plural form of “enclosure” depending on how many items you’re enclosing!
Before You Land Your Dream Software Engineering Role
We know you’ve probably put a lot of thought into your cover letter as a software engineer—after all, analytical thinking and strategic planning are among your strong suits! However, while your cover letter is important to refine and perfect, you’ll need to write a winning resume, too.
Even if you already have a resume, chances are it’s gotten a bit dusty. Take the opportunity to check your resume over for a quick refresh. Browse through our software engineer resume examples or start editing this one here if you’re ready to knock it out.
Software Engineer Resume
Easing your job hunt and taking your career to the next level is possible with the tools and resume tips we offer. Once you nail down the perfect cover letter and resume, recruiters will know why you’re such a great hire. They’ll be hard-pressed to turn you down as a result!
You’ve already covered coding in your software engineer resume, mentioning languages and frameworks like Python or Angular. Use your cover letter to elaborate on them and show how you leveraged them to make an impact. For example, discuss a project you’re particularly proud of—such as a fully responsive web app—and attach a link to it so the hiring manager can check it out.
Software engineering is a highly dynamic field, so you’re in luck! Emphasize transferable skills and experience in your cover letter to earn brownie points. For instance, express how your background in teaching means you’ll be good at conversing with a non-technical audience or how your previous job in retail taught you attention to detail.
Senior software engineers are no strangers to headhunting, so you may have job offers lined up a lot of the time. However, for a job that you actually care about, you should always attach a cover letter. It shows that you respect the company, and it gives you a chance to express why you want to work there instead of anywhere else.