5 Best Tips to Write an Impressive Academic Job Cover Letter


Academic jobs are highly competitive and thus require an impactful cover letter to make you stand out from the crowd with equivalent or more academic achievements. An academic job cover letter significantly differs from the typical business cover letter. Unlike other fields’ recruiters, academic job recruiters are more interested in the philosophical foundations of your work along with your academic qualifications and feats. In this article, we will discuss 5 best tips to follow while writing an impressive academic job cover letter.

What is the Purpose of an Academic Cover Letter?

The primary goal of writing any cover letter is to help you obtain an interview. Adding to this, it serves the following purposes:

  1. It introduces who you are as a scholar
  2. Summarizes why you are applying for a particular position.
  3. Highlights skills and experience you bring to the position.
  4. Allows the prospective employer to gauge your character and interest in the job.

What to Include in an Academic Cover Letter?

Though cover letters may vary with respect to their content and the position that your applying for, a few key elements remain constant to effectively showcase the top reasons to hire you. Ideally, a cover letter must be drafted in a consistent format to organize your information properly and make it easily accessible to employers. A successful cover letter uses a coherent progression of ideas to showcase your skills for the job.

An academic job cover letter must include seven sections to fairly fit employer expectations and highlight your skills.

1. Header:

All cover letters must start with a header that includes your contact information— name, email, phone number, and correspondence address on separate lines.

2. Salutation:

The salutation of your cover letter offers you the first chance to differentiate yourself from other applicants by addressing the correct person. It is important to address the correct person to show that you have put effort into your application. Ensure that the salutation is short and professional. Use appropriate honorifics or titles.

3. Introduction:

The introductory paragraph must include the position you are applying for. Furthermore, it must include other basic details about who you are and why you want the job. The introduction must provide a general overview of why you would excel at the position and the reasons for your interest in the job.

4. Qualifications:

After introducing yourself, you must focus on your qualifications. While your academic qualifications are mentioned in your CV, the cover letter must include more details about how your qualifications and achievements can benefit the team. Furthermore, you can include anecdotes about relevant projects or situations that give insight into how you solved problems and contributed to the success of past projects.

5. Values and Goals:

This section allows the employer to understand that you can not only do the job well, but also fit into the team and bring positive attitude to the workplace. You must demonstrate how your goals align with theirs.

6. Call to Action:

Being the closing paragraph of your cover letter, it must be impactful and reiterate your suitability for the job. Summarize your interest and suggest the next steps for proceeding with the application. Remember to thank the hiring manager for their valuable time to review your application. Additionally, express your interest in speaking more about the position.

7. Signature:

Sign off the cover letter with an impressive closing statement followed by your signature or typed name.

5 Tips to Follow While Writing an Academic Job Cover Letter

 1. Tailor Your Letter

While referring to templates gives you a better understanding about the standard format of a cover letter, employers want to know how uniquely you demonstrate your skills. Ensure that you communicate how you fit with the department and how you will be an asset to the university or institution. Elaborate on your approach to teaching and demonstrating what your publications and research can specifically bring to the research university. Furthermore, tailoring your cover letter also means to tailor it to the job profile, and ensuring that the requirements mentioned by the university are well demonstrated in your letter.

2. Write as a Potential Colleague, Not as a Student

Focus on your arguments and contributions in research rather than simply describing the details of your specific study. Do not underestimate your achievements. Moreover, draft your cover letter showcasing how you have shifted from being a student to being a producer of knowledge; a researcher who knows how his/her research fits into the broader field. Furthermore, discuss how you see yourself contributing to the university’s research program. Familiarize yourself with the research centers, laboratories, and workstations on the campus, and how you could contribute or add to those. Finally, present yourself as a useful resource that adds value to the university’s academic table.

3. Highlight Your Accomplishments with Fact-based Statements

Include factual accomplishments such as publications, awards, fellowships, and teaching experience. Be humble while mentioning your feats. Avoid using hyperboles and adjectives while stating your achievements.

4. Avoid Jargon

There is a possibility that the members of the hiring committee may not be from your field or allied domain. Hence, you must ensure that your cover letter explains your research in a way that is easily understood by general audience.

5. Be Clear and Concise

The hiring committee receives more than 100 applications for one position. Keep the cover letter 1 to 2 pages in length to help them skim through your application quickly. Furthermore, you must avoid overwhelming recruiters with excessive details. Strictly include details that are relevant for the job position. Do not describe all the papers that you have published. Instead, highlight two to three major papers and discuss their arguments and significance. However, you can mention how your paper fits into the existing literature; but limit it to just a short sentence or two.

Cover Letter Template

Do you plan on drafting an academic job cover letter? Refer to our cover letter template and draft a successful cover letter! Click here to download!

Let us know how did you draft your first academic job cover letter in the comments section below! You can also visit our Q&A forum for frequently asked questions related to different aspects of research writing and publishing answered by our team that comprises subject-matter experts, eminent researchers, and publication experts.