Graduate jobs at ThoughtWorks: your covering letter

Avoid using a covering letter that you have used to apply for other jobs; write one from scratch.

ThoughtWorks’ UK graduate talent scout, Jade Daubney, urges graduates applying for a job at the global software company to make the most of their covering letter, as recruiters always use them when screening applicants. She says: ‘When recruiters are unsure about a candidate’s CV, they turn to the covering letter.’

Below are the types of detail you can include in your covering letter, and why.

Facts that aren’t included in your CV

A lot of covering letters literally repeat what’s mentioned in a CV. Jade discourages this: ‘Include something that isn’t mentioned in your CV in your covering letter.’ As mentioned above, recruiters will use your covering letter when they haven’t been fully persuaded by your CV, so including identical information will simply tell them what they already know and will not bolster the chances of your application being progressed. So don’t simply state in your covering letter which university you graduated from and the programming languages you know if that’s in your CV.

This doesn’t mean you should include a load of isolated facts, however; if you do this, recruiters might struggle to piece together your experiences and how they’re relevant to the role. It’ll be more effective to mention examples of project work, awards, achievements, interests etc that aren’t explicitly mentioned on your CV, but are clearly connected to an endeavour that is included in your CV (eg university, internship, part-time job). For instance, you could mention the website you developed in your spare time while doing your computer science degree at university.

Details that showcase your personality

If you’ve met ThoughtWorks on campus or at a graduate fair, you’ll know that the organisation is far from bland; it has personality and encourages applicants to demonstrate theirs. Research ThoughtWorks online and, if you have the time, try to get to an event which will be attended by the company to get to know the people and culture behind the brand a bit better. A quick look at the results of ThoughtWorks’ Inside Buzz survey will give you some idea of the company’s culture; so will the YouTube video that is also accessible via its employer hub.

You might be wondering how to communicate your personality in your covering letter. First, avoid using a covering letter that you have used to apply for other jobs; write one from scratch, targeting the recruiting manager (find out who this is by contacting the organisation by email/phone if a name isn’t included on the website) so it’s as if you’re having a real conversation with him or her. Second, include one or two examples that exemplify your personality or interests – something that you’ve enjoyed/are passionate about; perhaps you went backpacking in Asia for a couple of months. Ensure you link the traits that you demonstrated in your example to some of the qualities sought by ThoughtWorks.

Evidence that you’ve researched ThoughtWorks

Jade urges graduates to research ThoughtWorks before they begin their application. Recruiters will want to see evidence that you have considered why you want to work for the organisation. You can demonstrate that you’ve researched ThoughtWorks and thought carefully about why you want to work for the business by including a single good reason in your covering letter about why you are pursuing a career with ThoughtWorks specifically, as opposed to any other IT company.

Good reasons are those that specify an aspect of the business or graduate programme that corresponds with your interests, values or career aspirations. Perhaps you’re committed to social and economic justice; ThoughtWorks is too and has worked on projects in developing countries to improve IT systems to raise the standards of key services, such as healthcare. There’s a lot of information on ThoughtWorks’ website and its YouTube channel about its values and initiatives.

How to structure you graduate IT covering letter

  1. Make it personal. Address your covering letter to the appropriate individual in ThoughtWorks’ recruitment team.
  2. State which scheme you’re applying for – the organisation runs a few graduate programmes – and explain why you’re interested in it.
  3. Tell the recruiter why you have picked ThoughtWorks. Give real reasons – skip the buzzwords and cliches.
  4. Convince the recruiter that you’re the best candidate for the job by matching your credentials with those on the job advert and explaining how you can add value to the business.
  5. Be concise and try not to exceed one side of A4. Avoid repeating what’s in your CV.

See our sample IT covering letter for inspiration and our one-page technical CV for ideas on how to most effectively lay out your education and work history as well as your skills, achievements and interests.

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