While the majority of attention is on creating an effective CV when applying for jobs in civil engineering, if you want to land your dream role in the industry it is important for you to take the time to create a proper cover letter to accompany the CV. The latter is typically formatted in a chronological style that focuses on the particular skills and experience suited to the potential job and company.

The cover letter should follow a similar format, but will not include as much detail. It is best to explain, in the shortest way possible, the most recent accomplishments or experience that showcases how appropriate you are for the role and the reasons why the potential employer should invite you for an interview. The cover letter is generally not the place to utilise bullet points, but they can be useful to keep the cover letter short.

It is important to keep in mind that cover letters for jobs in civil engineering should be kept to no more than three paragraphs. The first paragraph should be an introduction, the second paragraph should outline relevant experience, and the third paragraph should be a closing that includes contact information and when the job candidate can begin work.

What to include in the cover letter for a position in civil engineering.

As already mentioned, the cover letter is not intended to be a detailed document, but rather a summary from which the potential employer can gain an initial impression or characterisation of the applicant. The cover letter should:

  • be short and succinct
  • outline your most recent relevant experience 
  • highlight your enthusiasm for the industry

Major construction projects like roads, tunnels, bridges, and airports are designed by civil engineers. This means candidates for jobs in this field are required to be very hands-on in construction. However, there are other jobs in civil engineering that are of a supervisory and administrative nature. The latter jobs usually involve such activities as presenting reports to public or government officials.

In either case, civil engineers typically manage very complex projects. This means that candidates may be specialised in one or two of several areas. Candidates must communicate in the cover letter the particular areas of expertise that relate specifically to the potential job and the company.

Skills for civil engineers.

Job candidates should highlight the skills that are specific to the role that is available.  For jobs in civil engineering, this could include:

  • leadership
  • critical thinking
  • visualisation
  • great communications  
  • technical skills
  • project management

Leadership skills.

This includes leading diverse teams of professionals that may include surveyors, construction managers, contractors, technicians, urban planners, architects, transportation engineers, and others. Leadership skills for civil engineers often involve maintaining the confidence of various planning authorities.

Critical thinking skills.

Complex problems are often at the core of civil engineering jobs so candidates may need to identify the most reasonable solutions for dealing with the problems and the possible strengths and weaknesses of such solutions.


Civil engineers are often required to see a finished project in their mind's eye before it has even begun. This involves visualising complex components and how they may come together to solve a problem. This skill is characterised by the ability to be flexible and dynamic as a way to solve potential issues before they actually become problems.

Communication skills.

To be an effective leader, good communications skills are paramount. This includes being an active listener, as well as having the ability to communicate with other professionals with expertise and backgrounds in other areas.

Technical skills.

Jobs in civil engineering often require job candidates to have advanced skills in mathematics. This may include algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and statistics. Civil engineers need to be able to apply mathematical formulas and principles in a way that is appropriate for problem-solving.

Furthermore, civil engineers need to be proficient in reading and interpreting financial spreadsheets in order to maintain project budgets and costs. Skills in physics and practical applications of scientific rules, various design principles, construction methods and materials, and even environmental factors are integral to jobs in this field, as are skills in architectural design techniques and experience working with maps, blueprints, models, and drawings.  Experience with CAD software programs is also useful.

Project management.

It is very important for civil engineers to evaluate the work of others on any particular project. They need to be sure all aspects of the project are in compliance with all laws, regulations, and standards that are applicable. The reputation of a civil engineer is dependent upon the ability to estimate costs accurately, as well as resources and materials, and completing all the various aspects of projects on time.

You can find out more about a civil engineering job role by clicking here. For more cover letter advice and to download a letter template, visit our CV hub here.