Too many people spend days crafting the perfect academic CV, only to spend minimal effort on their academic cover letter. But, the truth is, that even the most perfectly crafted CV is nothing without an impactful cover letter. A strategically targeted cover letter which demonstrates your abilities, enthusiasm and suitability for the role paired with a tailored CV is your best bet at securing an interview.
So, before you start writing, check out these 4 tips for a winning academic cover letter.
Keep it brief
While an academic CV can be up to 4 pages long, the same can’t be said for the cover letter. Ideally, you should aim to fit everything into a brief paragraph You don’t need to talk about every single job responsibility, experience and grade you’ve ever received. The key is picking out the most relevant and impressive achievements – leave the rest to your CV.
Think of your academic cover letter as a short, concise note, which reels busy recruiters in, and encourages them to open your CV
Mix professionalism with personality
While it’s important to remain professional and show off your academic achievements, showing your passion and personality is key to helping you stand out from the competition.
Aim to write a cover letter which showcases you as an individual, unique person with an interesting story to tell. Be aware that it’s a fine balance, though; go too informal and it may come across as more cringey than inspiring.
So, beyond the obvious skills, education and experience, what sets you apart from the rest? Try to subtly build this personality into your academic cover letter at the same time as remaining professional and focusing on what makes you the perfect candidate.
Highlight your most valuable attributes
It’s important to be selective about what you include in your cover letter – remember, we’re aiming for a short essay, not a novel!
Talk about the most relevant and the most impressive of your qualifications, experiences, funding awards and so on. Don’t forget to quantify these where possible – there’s nothing more telling than a hard fact, figure or metric.
The key is to be selective about what you include. Having the job description next to you and constantly asking yourself “is this piece of information relevant?” can be a great tactic.
Triple check before sending
Sending off an application to your dream job is exciting, but that doesn’t mean you should rush – once it’s gone, there’s no going back! Spelling, grammar and formatting errors look incredibly unprofessional and is likely to make a hiring manager dismiss your application completely. This is especially the case for an academic position, where your written communication and language skills need to be top quality. Before sending it off, check through your cover letter and your academic CV yourself and make any necessary corrections. Then, ask a trusted friend to do the same – it’s always good to have a fresh set of eyes. Next, check it again yourself and make sure it’s perfect – only then should you press that send button.
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV