Some people seem to think that you can skip the cover letter on job applications and it isn’t needed in this day and age. I think they see it as extra work that holds them back from applying for more jobs.

But that’s looking at it all wrong. If a company is asking for a cover letter, that is your chance to wow them with how unique and wonderful you are. Yes, you can be really creative with your resume too. But if they are giving you the opportunity to send a cover letter, why not take advantage of it?

Plus, if you come up with a good cover letter template, you can repurpose it for multiple job applications. And guess what - I’m sharing the exact cover letter I sent when I was looking for remote front end work back in the fall of 2017, so you have no excuse not to include one now. 😉

The Letter

Hello Team ${companyName} 🙂,
I’m a front-end developer based out of Greenville, SC, and I create fun, innovative, accessible, and fast websites. I try to leave every bit of code I touch more readable, modular, performant and accessible than I found it. I’ve worked with major universities across the Southeast US, including Clemson University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and have done award-winning work for the University of Kentucky (https://www.upandup.agency/awards/upup-wins-ucda-excellence-award-university-kentucky-website).
Beyond front-end coding chops, I’m also passionate about writing and sharing what I’ve learned both with my teammates and the broader web community. I really value the ability to not only perform web development work but also help others improve their craft, because I’ve gained so much from others sharing their skills and knowledge. At Up&Up, I’ve led several different documentation initiatives for my current team, including our use of pattern libraries (https://css-tricks.com/build-style-guide-straight-sass/), a CSS style guide (https://benrobertson.io/front-end/css-standards), and an internal best practices site. I’m also in the process of writing a book on accessible web design (https://benrobertson.io/accessibility-for-web-developers/), to share what I’ve learned over the past several years.
On a team, I tend to help bring out a clearer sense of purpose and encourage clearer communication, resulting in better team results and a higher sense of satisfaction for all involved.
Let’s talk about how I could put my eye for detail, practice of web standards and communication skills to work for ${companyName} and friends. Thanks for your consideration.
Ben Robertson

Anatomy of the Cover Letter

Wow, right? Are you kind of wanting to hire me right now too? 😜

Feel free to repurpose that letter as you see fit for yourself. What I really recommend though is going through my explanation below and crafting your own very unique letter. I’ve gone through, paragraph by paragraph, explaining what I’m trying to communicate in the letter and I’ve included ideas that may help you brainstorm your own amazing and creative cover letter.

Greeting

Hello Team ${companyName} :),

For my greeting, I wanted them to know I was writing a cover letter specifically for their team, so I always included the company name.

I also wanted to communicate that I’m a warm, friendly person, so I included an emoji. I guess if you wanted to be even warmer, you could include a hugging emoji, or something. I like smiling so I included a smiley 🙂.

First Paragraph: Introduction and Establishing Credibility

In the first paragraph, I have a few goals. First, I want to introduce myself and show a little more of my personality:

I create fun, innovative, accessible, and fast websites.

I came up with this tagline to show what I value in my work. I’m trying to communicate that web development for me is not just about churning out websites, but that I have a value system behind my work. I’m explaining what’s important to me, and what kind of person I am, in addition to showing that I know that accessibility and performance are important buzzwords 😉.

I follow up that tagline by going a little deeper:

I try to leave every bit I code I touch more readable, modular, performant and accessible than I found it.

Here I’m trying to show that I also know that code should be readable so that other developers can work on it and it should be modular for maintainability. In other words: I am team focused.

I’m also expounding on my value system a little bit by revealing that I do this on all projects. I’m explaining that they won’t have to tell me that readability, modularity, accessibility, and performance are important. I already value those things and I take the initiative on my own to implement them.

Lastly, I attempt to establish some early credibility by mentioning some work that I have done, focusing on bigger name clients I had worked on. Like any web developer looking back on their code years later, I’m not proud of all the code in those projects, and some of them hadn’t launched at the time (and maybe still haven’t). What’s important here isn’t that I’m pointing to some amazing code I wrote, but simply that I’m establishing credibility. Really what I’m trying to say is: “Hey, I’m a guy you’ve never heard of, but these people think I’m good enough to do work for them so maybe you will too.

Second Paragraph: Highlight some accomplishments

In this second paragraph, I try to highlight some accomplishments that I am particularly proud of:

Beyond front-end coding chops, I’m also passionate about writing and sharing what I’ve learned both with my teammates and the broader web community. I really value the ability to not only perform web development work but also help others improve their craft, because I’ve gained so much from others sharing their skills and knowledge. At Up&Up, I’ve led several different documentation initiatives for my current team, including our use of pattern libraries (https://css-tricks.com/build-style-guide-straight-sass/), a CSS style guide (https://benrobertson.io/front-end/css-standards), and an internal best practices site. I’m also in the process of writing a book on accessible web design (https://benrobertson.io/accessibility-for-web-developers/), to share what I’ve learned over the past several years.

For a long time, it was so difficult for me to come up with web development accomplishments that I was proud of, because I was always looking at code that I wrote in the past and saw all the things that were bad about it with my 20/20 hindsight.

Then, one day, I sat down with a blank sheet of paper to write down the things I was proud of as a web developer, and I realized it wasn’t the actual code I had written. What I was really proud of was introducing our team to a new way of doing things, finding a new library we could use, or just always trying to help the team improve.

And the more I thought about it, I realized that being motivated and able to identify ways for a team to improve was a Really Valuable Attribute to bring to a new company. If you had the choice between hiring a rock star developer that is really good but keeps to themselves, or a person who will help improve themselves and everyone around them, who would you hire? Who is going to have the biggest impact on your team? Who will have the biggest impact on the bottom line?

So in this paragraph, I focused on those things. I was really proud of my article on CSS Tricks. I posted some articles on my blog that I had initially written for an internal best practices site, so the writing could be public. And I decided to write a book (I haven’t actually written the book. I’m still planning it - but being someone who has a plan to write a book still sets you apart from others).

For you, I recommend spending some time thinking about the accomplishments that make you the most proud. They could be some amazing portfolio pieces, or a super cool npm library you wrote. Or, like me, they could be soft skills. Are you a good writer? Are you good at planning, estimating? Did you save your company a bunch of money some how? Try to think from a business perspective rather than from a strictly coding perspective.

Third Paragraph: More soft skills

I highlighted some specific accomplishments in the second paragraph, but now in the third paragraph I’m highlighting some more general soft skills that I have:

On a team, I tend to help bring out a clearer sense of purpose and encourage clearer communication, resulting in better team results and a higher sense of satisfaction for all involved.

Soft skills are especially important in remote work. Being a good communicator is non-negotiable. At Mediacurrent where I ended up, the team focus is so strong that I think the fact I identified this really made me stand out.

Think about the unique perspective you bring to team meetings. Think about the questions people ask you. Think about the questions you ask. All these can be clues to the value and role that you play in a team.

Fourth Paragraph: Brief summary and close

Let’s talk about how I could put my eye for detail, practice of web standards and communication skills to work for ${companyName} and friends. Thanks for your consideration.

In the last paragraph I bring it to a clean conclusion. I say “Let’s talk” because that’s what I want: an interview. I see it as a call to action.

I make the call to action a brief summary of what I’ve laid out above, highlighting one aspect from each paragraph. “Eye for detail” sums up the first paragraph where I talk about always leaving the code better than I found it. I call out web standards because I mentioned accessibility and performance a couple of times in the first and second paragraphs and I want to remind them of that. And I call out “communication skills” as a nod to my third paragraph about soft skills.

I also include the company name for personalization, and for agencies I added “and friends” to acknowledge I understand that clients are important 🙂. For some applications, if it was a product I used or company that I loved, I also highlighted that fact here.

The call to action is clear (“let’s talk“) and what’s in it for them is also clear: I’ve laid out a brief summary of the things that are great about me. I add a courteous “Thanks for your consideration” to be professional and grateful and sign off.

Wrap up

So, there you have it. I just broke down each section of the cover letter template that I used to get the remote front end developer job I have now. I guess you could copy it word for word, but that would be weird. 😏

But do feel free to take whatever you find helpful from the letter and from my anatomical break down of the letter. I’m writing this because I want you to get your dream job, just like I got mine. Because even though you might be doubting yourself now, getting that new job is within reach for you. And if you are a front end developer looking for remote work - try out your new cover letter on our latest remote front end developer job listings.

Front End Remote Jobs
A curated job board featuring fully remote jobs for front end developers.frontendremotejobs.com

Originally published at frontendremotejobs.com.