7 Rules for Crafting a Perfect Academic Cover Letter

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7 Rules for Crafting a Perfect Academic Cover Letter

In this article, we're going to take a look at the tips for writing a winning academic cover letter for graduates who are looking for positions in colleges.

Academics are in a special category when it comes to job searches. They are looking for positions in colleges or universities or perhaps in research organizations (e.g. CDC).

The biggest distinction between academic position-seeking and other career searches is that academics will be crafting a CV rather than a resume. This is a complex and lengthy document, written in paragraph style, that summarizes education, accomplishments, published works, and other background experiences that relate directly to the position opening.

And the cover letters that accompany those CV’s will also be lengthier and more complex. Further, they must be crafted uniquely for each position for which the CV is being submitted.

One of the most glaring errors that position applicants make is crafting a generic cover letter that they believe will ‘work’ for any position. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every cover letter must speak directly to the position for which it is being submitted. In this sense, every cover letter must be unique.

In their uniqueness, however, there are certain “rules” for academic cover letters that should be adhered to, no matter what the content.

1. Review the position announcement several times

Look at the qualifications, list them, and make note of the background and experience you have that meets each of those qualifications. If you don’t put concrete qualification examples in your cover letter, you’ll be passed over.

2. Research the Faculty

Every department at every university has a culture. And that faculty will be reviewing your cover letter and CV. They will want to see if your philosophy is a “fit,” especially in terms of your approach to teaching, research, and publishing. If you can show solid intersections between your approach and theirs in your cover letter, you will get more attention.

3. Watch Your Cover Letter Style and Format

You are applying for an academic position. Your cover letter must be formal and scholarly in tone and style. Lexie Barrow, Professional Writer at All Top Reviews gives this advice: “You understand what academic writing is all about. You have spent years writing in this style. Don’t ignore it just because you are writing a cover letter. You are a scholar, and everything you write must reflect that.”

4. Get Feedback

Once you have crafted what you believe to be an appropriate cover letter, make sure you ask for feedback from trusted colleagues. They can provide an objective third-party assessment that may help you avoid errors and/or glaring omissions. If you don’t have such opportunity, contact readers of an academic blog or ask an academic writing service editors to take a look at your cover letter.

5. Do reference Your LinkedIn Profile.

If you do not have a LinkedIn account, get one right now. Begin to participate in the discussion, perhaps write a few academic articles in your research field. Not having a LinkedIn presence is a big mistake.

6. Applying to a Foreign Institution

You may be applying for a faculty position abroad. In this case, you may not know the proficiency level in your language of the reviewers. Honoring their native language can be a big plus. Once you have that cover letter and CV crafted, find a translation service with experts in the target language and a background in academic translations.

7. Send Only What is Requested

This tip does not specifically relate to cover letters, but it is absolutely critical. Follow the submission instructions “to the letter” – every last detail. If you believe that the materials you send don’t give a full picture of you, offer to provide those additional documents/information in your cover letter.

Ready to Create Your Cover Letter?

There you have it. Seven “rules,” as well as some solid resources for obtaining any help you may need. Remember this: While many position applicants downplay the value of a stunning cover letter, you should not. It is your introduction and first impression, and first impressions matter.