The Cover Letter (1-1.5 pages) is meant to be a guide to your application package, so that the reader wants to continue reading your application and knows what to look for in your materials.
This means that your CL should highlight and summarize your strengths and it should help the reader quickly decide that you are a potential fit for the position. It also should be well written and edited to make sure you come across as thorough and professional.
Suggested Layout for a CL:
- Paragraph 1: What position you are applying for, where it was posted, what you currently do and where.
- Paragraph 2: What your area of expertise is, what you have accomplished to this date (details in CV), who you’ve worked with (details in CV). Highlight your strengths as a candidate for this position, make them want to read your CV.
- Paragraph 3:
- For a research position: What is your research vision (details in RS), why is this relevant (details in RS), is it fundable (details in RS), does it fit with the position, the department, the institution?
- For a teaching position: What is your teaching experience (details in TS), what is your approach to teaching (details in TS), why I our interested in teaching at that particular institution (details in TS)?
- Paragraph 4: In what other ways will you contribute to the department (service, outreach), what have you done that can demonstrate you will do any of this (details in CV)?
- Paragraph 5: Express enthusiasm for the position, the colleagues, the department, the institution.
- Download our Tip Sheet for Cover Letters
- See our Sample Materials page for examples of successful Cover Letters.
- Additional Resources: Science Careers Article: Writing a Winning Cover Letter by John K. Borchardt.
Attend a workshop
We have workshops to help with your Cover Letter for R1 institutions as well as Research/Teaching (RT) institutions such as primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs), liberal arts colleges, and master's granting institutions.