It was interesting to see the cover letters submitted
by our class this semester. Some were cover letters
accompanying resumes to apply for industrial or
government positions. Others were applying for
faculty or academic post-doc positions; still others
While the form remains nominally the same for
all, the contents need to uniquely address each
specific position with type specific topics
R. Bretz identifies that the cover letter would indicate
the other documents in the application package, usually,
teaching philosophy, CV, teaching portfolio, research
proposals and start-up equipment and funds.
Opening paragraph includes position you are seeking,
where you learned about it and points out why you
are well qualified and a strong candidate to fill the position.
Following paragraphs include information about the
kind of institution it is, what attracts your interest in
being a candidate there, your areas of expertise and
fit into the organization, specific course teaching,
mentoring or research experience. It should also
state recent awards and affiliations with the institution.
Either in the final paragraph or after the signature,
a listing of the documents of the application packages
POST DOCTORAL POSITIONS
While many are at academic institutions, post doc
cover letters are best that show you are familiar with
the PI’s work and have some ideas that could be
exploited in her or his laboratory. B. deBoef has
offered examples of cover letters that point out
connections,meetings or citing the PI’s work.
He indicated a willingness to author research proposals
and seek fellowships. He describes his professional
plans and where the post-doc position fits, a copy
of recent publications and opportunities to meet
INDUSTRIAL AND GOVERNMENT POSITIONS
Careersolvers and Quintcareers do respectable
jobs describing what to not do. I always like Louise
Kursmark and Wendy Enelow’s approach to different
contexts of cover letters to business and technology
positions. Each one is situation dependent and targeted.
The position title considered is in an easy to see
reference line in a letter addressed to a specific person.
A bulleted style allows the writer to minimize the use
of “I” in the letter. The major qualifications sought in
the job description are lined up in one column and how
the candidate fulfills the requirement in an adjacent
column of bullets.
The final paragraph solidifies your interest in being
in the position or organization and your desire for an
interview. Interest in meeting an individual and opportunity
to discuss mutual interest in the company’s success is
good in the last paragraph. Besides mentioning your
appreciation and availability, these days a skype or
facetime telecon can further your case to pass initial
To me internship seeking and industrial post doc
seeking cover letters are similar to the industrial
position cover letter, since the audience is similar.