We surveyed US hiring decision-makers to find out if cover letters are still necessary and if *you* need one to land a job in 2020. Here’s what we found.
You’ve come across the ideal job opening for a software engineer position.
It’s got it all—autonomy, challenging projects, a great company culture, and awesome colleagues to work with and help you grow.
Before you can score that IT interview, you need to write a cover letter for software development that compels them to read your resume and call you in for a meeting.
It’s not as tough as it sounds.
In this article, you’ll get:
- Two software engineer cover letter samples: one junior software developer cover letter (entry-level) and one senior example.
- Step-by-step advice on how to create a software developer cover letter that’ll earn you more IT interviews.
- A software engineer cover letter template you’re able to edit and prepare in 15 minutes to attach alongside your software developer resume.
What does a perfect cover letter for a software engineer look like? See below—
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Let’s begin with two software developer cover letter samples:
1. Software Engineer Cover Letter Examples
In this first example, get acquainted with Zadie.
Zadie has been a software engineer for several years. Her contract has now expired, so she is on the market looking for new opportunities.
Let’s see Zadie knock it out of the park with this senior software engineer cover letter example:
Example #1: Mid-Level Software Engineer Job Candidate
August 30, 2019
Martha D. Porter
4022 Ferguson Street
Worcester, MA 01610
I was excited to come across the job opening for a senior software engineer at MASS Gaming, not only because my current contract is coming to an end, but also because I have been a big fan of the mobile productivity apps you’ve created over the years. Having 4+ years of professional experience in shipping code quickly, Python programming, and both SQL and NoSQL expertise, I believe I have the tech skills necessary to be a perfect addition for your team.
According to the job listing, it appears you’re looking for a senior software engineer who is particularly efficient at software performance optimization and managing deployments. At my recent position with Boston App Design, I successfully participated in weekly software deployments on a Kubernetes cluster (Google Cloud Platform). My implementation of performance analyses contributed directly to a 50% increase year-over-year in workflow improvements. I am certain that I’d be able to bring about similar results as a senior software engineer at MASS Gaming.
Aside from the awesome productivity and finance apps you put out, I have always admired your company’s dedication and support of the open source community. I would love to be a part of the amazing work culture, share in the wins, and contribute to your successes.
Can we arrange a face-to-face or telephone call in order for me to explain how I could help with MASS Gaming’s upcoming challenges?
What’d you think?
Zadie is sure to impress the IT recruiter, hiring manager, or Director of IT with this software engineering cover letter example.
Now, what if you haven’t any software development experience?
Meet Zadie’s twin brother, Zachary.
Though they’re the same age, Zack doesn’t have professional software development job experience. During the time Zadie worked on her IT career, Zack here took a few years after college to backpack around southeast Asia.
Zack’s applying for a junior software developer job opening at MASS Gaming, an entry-level position which will help him hone and develop his software engineering skills.
Let’s see how Zack’s junior software developer cover letter sample still wows the CTO:
Example #2: No Experience Candidate (Software Developer Cover Letter Entry-Level)
August 30, 2019
Martha D. Porter
Director of Information Technology
4022 Ferguson Street
Worcester, MA 01610
After completing my Bachelor of Software Engineering (B.SE.) and volunteering around the world for the last few years, I’m ready to settle down at home here in Massachusetts. As I freelanced on various software development projects to help sustain my travels, I was delighted to find the junior software developer opening at MASS Gaming.
In the junior software developer job description from the careers page on your website, it says you’re looking for someone with a basic knowledge of mobile app development, Swift, and Visual Basic .NET. While freelancing, I was hired to work on over 15 different mobile applications, both for Android and iOS, while utilizing Swift, Visual Basic .NET, ASP.NET, Ruby, and other technologies. I am certain my remote work portfolio (enclosed) makes me a top contender for the junior software development role.
I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you more about how my software engineering university studies and contracted jobs give me an advantage in helping MASS Gaming meet its upcoming IT and development goals.
There you have it.
You’ve now seen two software developer cover letter examples that will set the benchmark for other candidates and is sure to score an IT interview.
Let’s go through each step of writing a top-performing cover letter for software engineer jobs of your own.
If you’re feeling short on time, don’t worry. We’ll give you simple templates for every portion of your technical cover letter. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.
Is your software developer resume not optimized? See our dedicated resume guide: Software Engineer Resume Template—25+ Examples and Writing Tips
2. How to Write a Cover Letter for Software Developer Jobs (Step-by-Step Template)
Here is how to create a software engineer cover letter sure to win an interview:
1. Follow Business Letter Formatting Rules
Were you thinking of diving right in and writing your software development cover letter?
Hold up a sec.
Cover letter content has a dependency relationship with the software engineering cover letter format. See, the second thing the CTO notices is your first sentence. The first thing they notice? The layout of your cover letter template.
Want a java developer or python developer cover letter with little entropy?
Here’s how to format a cover letter effectively:
- Align everything in your cover letter for software engineering jobs to the left, and don’t justify the text.
- Use a one-inch margin on all four sides and single line spacing in the content.
- Pick an elegant font for a cover letter which is easy on the eyes.
- One page does it. Don’t let your application developer cover letter spill onto a second sheet.
Expert Hint: A study by the University of Minnesota says that “spelling errors, poor grammar, and poor organization” are the biggest issues when writing resumes and application letters. On top of that, one of the most important factors for a successful cover letter is listing the specific job title, so never turn in a generic cover letter.
2. Add Your Contact Deets in a Professional Cover Letter Header
A headless browser may be useful for test automation, but a headless software engineer cover letter is useless.
Not only that—
The header of your cover letter should resemble the one on your software engineer resume.
Each needs to include your first and last name and contact information. Adding your job title or a branding statement is optional.
The cover letter goes further than the software developer resume, in that it also needs to include the date of writing and the company’s details, just as any formal letter would.
Check out this easy heading template:
Sample Software Developer Cover Letter Template of Header Section
[ Your Full Name]
[ Your Job Title ] (Optional)
[ Phone Number ]
[ Email Address ]
[ LinkedIn Profile ]
[ Date of Writing ]
[ IT Director’s First & Last Name ]
[ IT Director’s Job Title ]
[ Company’s Name ]
[ Company’s Street Address ]
[ City, State, Zip Code ]
Easy as coding a “Hello world!” HTML page, right?
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Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.
3. Start Strong by Introducing Yourself & Informing Them of the Job You’re Applying For
Like a fun, perfectly coded mobile game, you want the IT manager to become immersed in your front end cover letter or back end cover letter.
It starts with a compelling and informative cover letter introduction.
First, address the employer by name. Recruiters, hiring managers, and IT managers love personalized cover letters, and you can easily find their names on LinkedIn or the company website.
Next, start the cover letter by informing them about the position you’re applying for and a brief look at your professional career background so far.
Here’s a fill-in-the-blanks template to copy, alter, and use for yourself:
Cover Letter Sample Software Engineer: Introduction
Dear [IT Manager’s Name]:
Mention the specific job sought, the specific job requirements that you can fulfill (taken directly from the wording in the job posting), and highlight your education, certifications, work experience, skills, abilities, interests and aspirations that directly relate to that specific job (a bullet-format often works well for these items). Remember: The employer has a ‘problem’ (i.e., a vacancy in a specific job); and you must demonstrate that you're the ‘solution’ to that problem—in terms of providing a solid ‘fit’ for that open position.
Expert Hint: Show a bit of enthusiasm! Recent research has shown a direct correlation between the happiness of a software developer and the quality of their output, so exude passion for development on your software engineer cover letter.
4. Showcase Your Software Engineering Skills & IT Competence
The middle part of your software web developer cover letter—
This portion needs to match your IT skills, knowledge of developer duties, and past accomplishments to the software engineering role.
Open the software developer job description and find the specific responsibilities of the candidate they’re looking to hire. In your software engineer cover letter, explain how your experience and abilities have prepared you for this position.
Check out this software development cover letter example:
Cover Letter for Software Developer Jobs: Middle Paragraph
Inside the job description, it says that [Startup or Company Name] is looking for someone with skills and experience in [e.g., APIs, jQuery, HTML5, XML, Java, dBase, Oracle, Embedded C, R, AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud, Google Cloud Platform, etc.]. Well at my most recent job as a [Job Title or Position Name] with [Name of Current or Most Recent Company],I successfully [Give One or Two Responsibilities and How You Carried Them Out. Use Numbers to Be More Effective]. I am sure that I could bring that same knowledge and level of commitment to work at [Startup or Company Name].
Expert Hint: Writing a senior software engineer or dev manager cover letter? A Microsoft study found that skills for management in software development vary greatly from leadership in other domains. Focus more on soft skills and emotional intelligence over technical skills.
5. Inform The CTO or IT Recruiter Why This is the Place You Want to Be
Whether writing a software engineer intern cover letter or a senior full stack developer cover letter, drop some compliments.
Yes, they’re definitely more interest in your software engineering competence, tech skills, and IT abilities. However, they also want to see that you want to be there and how well you’d fit in on the team.
Check out this example:
Cover Letter Software Engineer Example: Motivating Statement
I particularly admire that, at [Name of Startup], you [Give an Example or Two of Something You Applaud the Company For]. These principles perfectly match my own professional beliefs and values, and earning a spot on the dev team would be a great chance for me to learn and cultivate further technical skills at [Startup or Company Name].
6. End the Software Engineering Cover Letter with a Clear Call to Action & Sign-Off
To close a cover letter, ask for a meeting (don’t say interview), whether face-to-face, over the phone, or on a video chat session.
Highlight your proposition, and tell them you’re eager to talk more about how you see yourself fitting into their IT team and helping them to grow.
Here’s a sample software engineer cover letter closing to use as a guide:
Sample Cover Letter for Software Developer Jobs: Call to Action & Closing
Could we arrange a meeting or phone call in order for me to go over how I believe my developer skills might help [Name of Startup or Company] attain its near-future goals and objectives?
[Digital Signature] (optional)
[First Name & Last Name]
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Here’s how to write a software engineer cover letter as error-free as the code you deploy:
- Address your experienced or entry-level software engineer cover letter directly to the IT recruiter, CTO, CIO, or HR hiring manager.
- Start the application letter by introducing yourself, informing them of the specific position to which you are applying, and giving a quick overview of your background.
- Detail what makes you a particularly exceptional software development candidate. Use numbered achievements for more oomph.
- Explain what motivates you to join this particular startup or company on your cover letter for software developer jobs.
- Close with a strong call-to-action, and request a phone call or meeting.
- Attach it to your software developer resume and send it off!
Got any questions on how to talk up your developer skills and IT abilities? Need more front end, back end, or mobile app software developer cover letter examples? Why don’t you leave a comment below, and we’ll chat. Thanks for reading!