Software Developer Cover Letter Examples & Expert tips [Free] (2022)

Software developers keep the digital world running, and our reliance on them to keep doing that is not diminishing any time soon. But while jobs may be plentiful, getting the best job requires an outstanding software developer cover letter.

As part of every carefully targeted job application package, the cover letter is an essential companion to your resume. That’s just two pieces of paper — but they need to be virtually perfect.

Resume.io is a global leader in providing job applicants with field-tested templates for resumes and cover letters, as well as professional, occupation-specific guidance on how to prepare them.

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(Video) Write an Amazing Cover Letter: 3 Golden Rules (Template included)

This article will address how software developers in search of a job should write a cover letter. Consider this a companion to our guide on how to prepare a software developer resume. You might also want to review our cover letter guide for software engineers, a profession that’s very similar to software developers.

These are some of the issues we’ll address in this cover letter writing guide, along with the software developer cover letter examples:

  • The job outlook for software developers
  • Why a cover letter is a critical part of a job application
  • How to structure a cover letter properly
  • How to make each section of your cover letter effective: header, greeting, introduction, body and conclusion
  • How to design and format your cover letter
  • The psychology of writing a persuasive letter
  • Some common mistakes you want to avoid.

Let’s dive in.

The job outlook for software developers

Software developers are the innovators behind all the software applications that power our computers, phones and other digital platforms. We have them to thank for envisioning, designing, building, maintaining and upgrading these computer programs.

The pay in this field is exceptional, with a median annual salary of $110,140 recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2020. The BLS further distinguishes between developers of applications, with median pay of $106,160, and developers of systems software, at $106,160.

Also, the job outlook is gangbusters, with growth of 22% projected from 2019 to 2029 — much higher than the average for all occupations. Jobs in application development are expected to grow by a whopping 26%, while jobs for systems developers are projected to increase 10%. Overall, there were 1,365,500 software developer jobs in 2018, but there are expected to be 1,649,600 by 2028.

So if this is your field, you’ve chosen well.

The importance of the cover letter

If your resume already covers all the major bases of your qualifications for a job, why do you need a cover letter? First of all, it’s a simple courtesy. You are asking for a job, right? A cover letter is your way of introducing yourself to a potential employer, explaining your interest in a job, and highlighting all the reasons you’re eminently qualified. A cover letter is a way of establishing a personal connection to a hiring manager. It’s a means of starting a dialogue that ideally will lead to an interview and a job offer.

Yes, your resume should list all of your major job qualifications, including your employment history, education and skills. But a resume doesn’t even include the word “I” or “you,” so it’s not exactly a personal appeal.

A cover letter, on the other hand, is a professional yet personal means of outreach to someone who has the power to offer you a job, so it’s important. There are a few employers who prefer to receive only a resume, but unless you’re asked otherwise, you should always include a cover letter when sending a resume.

In fact, surveys of hiring managers have found that the failure to include a cover letter is one of the primary reasons resumes are rejected. If you don’t include a cover letter, an employer would understandably wonder why. Is it because you feel so entitled to the job that you don’t even have to bother writing a letter asking for it? Is it because the job is not very important to you? Is it because you’re a bad writer and you don’t want the employer to know that?

Related articleHow to write a cover letter - expert guide [2022]Here is exactly how you can write a cover letter that will stand out from the crowd, and help you land that interview.

Obviously, you don’t want employers to be asking any of these questions. Take no chances by always including a cover letter unless you’re specifically asked not to.

Software Developer Cover Letter Examples & Expert tips [Free] (2)

Format to structure your cover letter

With very rare exceptions, a cover letter should be one page only, a maximum of 400 words. Here’s how it should be structured:

  • Header
  • Greeting
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • Signature

Let’s talk about what each of these components should contain.

(Video) The 4 Sentence Cover Letter That Gets You The Job Interview

The cover letter header

The header is an electronic version of what used to be called a letterhead — the space at the top of the page that contains your name, occupation, address, phone and email.

The first reason for this is obvious, so that the employer knows how to contact you. But the header is also an important design element, as it gives you an opportunity for creative use of typography, layout, color and white space.

Take a moment to review some of the headers on the free cover letter templatesat resume.io. The header is the most visually complex part of the cover letter, and by far the easiest way to create one is to use a pre-designed template.

Expert tip

Align document styles

Your cover letter and resume should be a matching set, and you need to make them look alike by using the same fonts, styles and formatting. The header on both, for example, should be very similar if not identical, making it obvious that these two came from the same person.

Aligning the styles between these two documents gives you a “visual brand,” and it shows that you pay attention to detail and understand the importance of coherent, attractive design.

Aim of the cover letter header: Identify yourself, with vital contact information, on an attractive, professional-looking document that the hiring manager will readily distinguish from other applications.

The cover letter greeting

“Dear Ms. (or Ms.) [Last Name]:” is the traditional and time-honored way to write the salutation of any business letter. You can’t really go wrong with this approach.

Yet there are arguments to be made that the greeting can be more informal. For example, if you happen to know the person you’re writing to, addressing that person on a first-name basis is probably acceptable.

Study the culture and style of the company you’re targeting, and look at how it addresses the public on its website or in other communications. Depending on the formality or lack thereof of the company culture, you may choose to replace the “Dear” with a less formal “Greetings,” “Hello,” or the like, followed by the name of the person you’re writing to.

Expert tip

Try to address your letter to a specific person

Always try to find out the name of the person responsible for hiring at the company you’re targeting, and address your letter to that individual. There are several reasons for this:

• It shows initiative and attention to detail on your part that you’ve bothered to find out the name of the person doing the hiring for the job you’re seeking.

• It demonstrates that you’re customizing your letter for this specific company, and not just sending out a generic “Dear Hiring Manager” letter to all potential employers.

• People like to read their own names, and a letter addressed by name to an individual is more likely to get a response than a letter addressed to an entire company.

Do some research to identify the name of this person, and if necessary simply call the company and ask. However, if you’re told that the hiring manager prefers to remain anonymous, then you need to come up with a greeting that says, “Dear [Company Name] Hiring Manager” or the like.

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Aim of letter greeting / salutation: Start off on the right note by addressing the hiring manager by name if possible, in as formal or casual a manner as suits the situation.

The cover letter introduction

The first paragraph of your letter should be a provocatively written opening statement that expresses your interest in a job and offers a brief preview of your qualifications (for example, the number of years you’ve worked in this field).

It’s important to set the right tone from the beginning — friendly but professional, confident but not arrogant. It’s also important to avoid cliché-ridden language that the recruiter has seen in a thousand other cover letters. Use energetic, lively language that makes the reader want to read on.

Aim of the cover letter introduction: Capture the attention of hiring managers with a compelling preview of your qualifications that motivates them to read more.

The cover letter body

The central two or three paragraphs of your letter are where you must deliver the goods. Here you must talk about your employment experience in the field, and you need to include highlights of some of your top job-related accomplishments.

Be specific, using facts and figures where possible to describe how many projects you handled, their dollar value to the company, etc. Also, use anecdotes to describe tough challenges you faced in the past, what actions you took to resolve them, and the positive outcome you achieved. The body of your letter can also address your education, special training and skills, and any certifications you hold in your field.

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You may also choose to discuss your aspirations for the future, especially as they relate to the company you’re targeting. If you’ve studied this firm closely, you may be aware of specific challenges it faces, and you may have ideas about how you can help. This is the place to mention that.Always remember that your letter is not about what this employer can do for you, but what you can do for this employer.

Aim of the cover letter body: Highlight and quantify your most relevant accomplishments in a relatable way so the employer can envision your potential contributions if hired.

The conclusion

Close with a recap, a “thank you” and a call to action. You might want to ask if you could call in a week or so to see about arranging an interview, or you could simply say that you are eagerly looking forward to a reply. You might note that you are always reachable at the contact info provided.

The main idea of the conclusion is to plant the idea in your reader’s head that he or she should take some action as a result of this letter, and not just set it aside. Close on a confident, friendly and optimistic note.

Aim of the conclusion: Finish on a confident note, with a call to action that ideally results in an interview.

The signature

Close with a “Sincerely” or the equivalent, add a space, and type your full name. It’s also not a bad touch to include an actual scanned signature, though in electronic communication it’s not expected.

Software Developer Cover Letter Examples & Expert tips [Free] (3)

Cover letter layout and formatting: Get the design right

Design matters, and you need to adhere to certain formatting rules to make sure your cover letter has an eye-pleasing look.

  • Fonts: Choose a widely used, easy-to-read font. Avoid splashy or exotic fonts that call attention to themselves rather than to your content.
  • Font size: Use of font size of 10 to 12 points. Text that’s too small is hard to read, and text that’s too large tends to look childish. If you’re having trouble fitting your letter onto one page, try cutting your text before you reduce your font size.
  • Align text left: Do not justify your text from margin to margin, or it will make your letter look blocky and dense. Text that is aligned left, or “ragged right,” leaves some space at the end of the last word in each line, making it easier for the eye to navigate.
  • Paragraphs: Hold paragraphs to a reasonable length, and put a space between them. Avoid long, dense paragraphs.
  • Margins: Use a 1-inch margin on the top, bottom, left and right.
  • White space: Leave room for an appropriate amount of space that contains nothing at all to give the reader’s eye and brain an occasional break.
  • Save as PDF: Unless you’re asked otherwise, save your cover letter and resume as PDFs, which will preserve their formatting so that they look the same on any computer. If applying for a job by email, attach PDFs of your cover letter and resume and write a very brief note in the body of the email saying that you’re attaching these materials in order to apply for a given job.
  • Use a template: The best way to avoid any errors in design or formatting is to use a professionally designed template that is already formatted correctly.

Psychological tips to writing a persuasive cover letter

You need to try to get “inside the head” of the person you’re writing to — and rather than write the letter you want to write, write the letter you want that person to receive. Psychologists say the human brain responds to stimuli with a mix of emotional and rational responses, and ideally you want to trigger both.

You want to use a certain amount of personal, emotional language that appeals to the heart more than the head. You want your reader to like you, and to see that have a deeply felt passion for the field you’ve chosen. But you also want to speak to the rational side of your reader’s brain by demonstrating that you have the work history, education and skills to make you fully qualified for the job you’re seeking.

Try to read your own letter through the eyes of the person you’re writing to. If you received this letter, would you want to interview the person who wrote it? Would you want to work with that person for years to come?

Have you identified the precise reasons that make you a winning candidate, or have you veered off into irrelevant info or meaningless clichés? Have you chosen the right tone of voice, confident but not presumptive, friendly but not too familiar? Have you made it easy for your reader to say yes, I want to hear more?

Common mistakes to avoid

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when writing a cover letter:

  • Typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes can instantly sink your ship. Language errors are commonly cited as the most common reason job applications are rejected.
  • Clichés, lazy writing and “fluff” (fancy language that doesn’t say anything) are a major turnoff. Use fresh, original language that describes your specific qualifications for the job, and steer clear of meaningless buzzwords.
  • Non-customized letters that could have been sent to any employer are another no-no. Every cover letter you write should address the needs of the employer you’re addressing.
  • Irrelevant info like hobbies or skills that have nothing to do with the job you’re seeking should be deleted and replaced with material that demonstrates your capability to do the job.
  • Formatting errors like strange fonts, tiny text or an overcrowded page are a major strike against your letter before anyone even reads the first word.

Key takeaways for a software developer cover letter

  1. Software developers are highly paid professionals with a promising job outlook, but to get the job that’s right for you, you need an outstanding cover letter and resume.
  2. Cover letters are essential because they establish a personal connection to a hiring manager, showcasing your personality and passions.
  3. Cover letters should follow a specific structure to make sure they cover all the necessary bases.
  4. Cover letters should look as good as they read, so you need to format and design your letter properly.
  5. Bad writing, design or formatting can lead to a quick rejection, so you want to avoid common cover letter mistakes.
  6. Use a professionally designed cover letter template to minimize your chances of error and maximize your chances of success.

To get started today, check out the cover letter templates at resume.io, choose a style you like, fill in your own information, and you’re done!

If you’re looking for additional inspiration for cover letter writing, you can check out our related information technologycover letter examples and guides:

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