Been there. I will keep it real as always and share with you the cover letter I wrote for a postdoc application at MIT - where I got the interview and had loads of fun visiting!
|Mirror selfie at the hotel before my interview. It was February and I was COLD in just that jacket. Don't take Boston lightly. Everrrr.|
At the end of this post, I have pasted the cover letter as I submitted it.
I changed the font to match the font of this post, that's all.
You are welcome to copy what I have provided below and paste it into a new Word document, then make changes as needed.
In other words, use the cover letter below as a template!
The format I have used is pretty standard.
Your name in huge letters at the top.
Then your work address, phone number, and email in the next line.
Then the date you are submitting it followed by the name of the professor who is hiring, her title, and work address.
If you do not know the name of the professor who is hiring then stop right here and find that out!
Then you start the letter and it should be no more than a few powerful paragraphs.
Don't make any paragraph too big of a block of text.
In the very first sentence, you should say what you are writing them for, that is, to apply for a position.
Be specific. Say which position with what project.
Then say who you are.
Follow this up with when you will be graduating and when you can start the position.
Finish the paragraph with a strong statement about why you are more than perfect for the job.
The next paragraph is all about elaborating why you are perfect for the role.
Elaborate away but as succinctly as you can.
Any experience you speak about should be RELEVANT to the particular role you are applying for.
No one cares about the other stuff you know.
The professor(s) will KNOW if you are just sending them a generic cover letter that you send to every other school just with the school's name changed.
Trust me, they know.
It takes work and time to make sure each cover letter is perfect for that particular role.
I applied to only 5 places!
I know. Crazy. But I got interviews at ALL but one place.
If you are not writing a cover letter specifically for a given role - you should really ask yourself if you even care enough to bother applying for that role.
This is what I did and ended up applying to so few places.
The truth is I don't care about everything and that's a good thing.
The third paragraph should be like a very short research statement - packed with strong statements about what it is you'd like to do and why the role is well-aligned with your goals.
Mention achievements that are, again, relevant to the position.
It is nice to put a big achievement near the end so you are leaving them with a reminder that you are an absolute goddess.
I always end by asking them to kindly consider the application and that I look forward to hearing from them - which is pretty standard.
Good luck on the postdoc apps and please comment below if you found this useful.