Cover Letter Workshop


-       Formatting

o   12-point font, 2 pages maximum (recommended 1.5 minimum) single-spaced, smallest margins must be 1"

o   Date, space, snail mail address of person/committee, space, Dear Professor X/members of Search Committee, space

o   Letterhead from your department

-       Specify publication plans

-       Present yourself as a colleague

-       Research the place you're applying to!

o   Tailor your letter to the position you're applying to (is the course load 3/3 or 4/4? Is it a research position? Is it a position partially funded by grants?)

Outline of Information to include:

1)    Paragraph on you: I am writing to apply for the [INSERT POSITION] in [INSERT POSITION SPECIFICS] announced in [WHERE DID YOU FIND IT]. I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in [PI’s LAB/HOME INSTITUTION] where I work on [YOUR BROAD TOPIC]. Briefly describe dissertation [USE A DESCRIPTIVE WORKING TITLE] and how your current research deviates/builds upon previous research. I am a good fit for this position because [INSERT GENUINE REASON HERE].

2)    Paragraph on Current Research: My project [SUMMARY SENTENCE]. [HISTORICAL/SOCIAL/POLITICAL/SCIENTIFIC CONTEXT]. [Detail sentence 1]. [Detail sentence 2]. [Detail sentence 3]. [Probably include one sentence per paper].

3)    Paragraph on Other Scholarly Interests: Additional/parallel project I work on/am interested in is [plans for future research].

4)    Paragraph on Teaching: My teaching experience includes [five to seven-word summary]. I have taught [range of classes, including topics and types, e.g. online, lecture, big lecture] and include role in course [recitation leader, instructor-of-record, etc.].

5)    Paragraph on Grants/Fellowships: Within STEM be sure to list any travel grants, young researcher grants, internal and external grants, and currently submitted and pending grants and collaborations. Some positions (especially self-funded labs) will seek substantial grant-writing and application experience, as well as collaborations with other researchers within home institutions and at other institutions.

6)    Paragraph on Professional Development and Service: I am a productive member of my field/department/university, which shows in my dedication to [insert workshops, volunteer work, service here, mentorship, educational outreach].

7)    Paragraph on fit: [optional – how do you fit into the university you're applying to?]

Resources, Sample Letters, and Works Cited