Cover Letter Tips

I believe I’m at the point where I can start sending my resume out just speculatively now to see what kind of feed back I would get.

For a bit of back story…
I used to code a bit when I was young, messing around with QBasic, Visual Basic and C++ making pretty much useless programs and ‘games’. Now my school was a bit more traditional in the sense that we was fed the whole no no you cant make any money in IT etc windows has already been invented, web development was mostly done using things like dreamweaver, with very few and far between real web applications as such, way before smart phones were even a thing. So i discounted it and kept my computer tinkering as a hobby. I loved building new or upgrading old PC’s, I was the go to person for tech help and have always found learning how to do basically anything on a computer quite easy to grasp and pick up.

I was asked to build a company website for a new company I was a part of, being the company IT person (managing the networks, setting up printers, LAN, in charge of setting up and maintaining all pc’s/laptops, emails etc etc) as well as my full time job which is a completely different industry. This was about 2-3 years ago, so I hacked together a website using old school methods, css floating and positioning everything, it was 0% responsive and you had to scroll around on mobile, I didn’t know any different and my management were happy with it.

A few weeks after putting it live I looked into why it wasn’t displaying properly on mobile etc and discovered a whole new world, responsiveness, mobile first design, javascript, jquery etc etc and fell down a deep rabbit hole. I taught myself html and bits of css and jquery and remade the whole website in my free time and quiet periods at work. I found I enjoyed it so much more than what I was currently doing I decided to see if I could get into doing it full time.

Basically since that time I have been working on building up a portfolio of work I could show to potential employers, I have made a few websites for friends of friends using wordpress (coding custom themes not drag and drop into paid templates) as well as redesigned (again) my current companies website, worked through tons of online course material, tutorials, learned how to use git, sass and gulp.

I am currently working towards mastery of javascript, studying more theory (eloquent javascript books etc) since I know the basic programming fundamentals (operators, conditionals, loops, functions, methods, objects etc) and am working more on putting this theory to practical use. I am also trying to learn Angular 2+

TLDR: Discovered web dev when asked to build new company web site, loved it, taught myself loads since and learning more daily.

Back to my question, I feel like I need to put at least some of this in a cover letter if I’m applying to jobs, just to convey the passion/dedication I have to mastering this new found awesome craft.
Would I be wise to mention all that I have above?
Or keep it more to the point and traditional, I want to work with you because… I feel I’d be a good fit because… I feel I could add … to your team?
Also having been a project manager I feel I have mostly transferable skills which would translate into me working as a developer (time management, client management, keeping to deadlines, careful planning, organisational skills etc) I feel I should mention this?
I also made a previous job I had (estimator) pretty much obsolete, by developing some crazy excel/vba workbook that would pretty much make my quotations for me accurately too. They later bought in some new guy on barely a fraction of my salary and just gave him my program to use :rage: whilst I got made redundant. So I was also wondering if I should talk about that too, as I guess its an achievement in some weird sense? Even if it helped the company whilst shooting myself in the foot.

Any advice from experienced coders/hiring managers/job searchers?



I’m in a similar position. Just getting my portfolio and CV together for applications.

To me, its sound like you have plenty of background and experience, but you need to make it into a coherent story. What you’ve written above has way too much detail for a cover letter. I’d suggest completely ignoring how you learnt to code (nobody will care) and totally focus on what you know, what you can do, and the evidence you have got to prove it. Put all the technical information into your portfolio and Github (that what README is for!). Put your career history in your resume. And then in the cover letter, keep it really simple. Just say:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you core skills are
  3. Why you want to work for them

Agree with arw’s points. One thing you could add that may be beneficial would be a short story of why you are a good fit for the position. For example you could say something like:

"I was really excited to see that the position had a focus in mobile first design; in my last job I was tasked with optimizing our website for mobile. I found the project very interesting and it was one of the experiences that led me to decide to become a full time web developer."

Another thing to add would be when writing about why you want to work for them, show that you researched their company. For example:

"The XYZ company mission statement makes me think the company would be a great cultural fit for me, since I have always believed a focus on integrity and customer satisfaction is the best practice when doing business."

Wish you the best of luck.

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Thanks for the tips. Will definitely keep it shorter and direct to the point.
Need to work on all this kind of stuff a bit more I think.

Very useful tips. Thanks for sharing!