Cover Letters for Academic Positions

217-333-4610 | GradCareers@illinois.edu | grad.illinois.edu/CareerDevelopment
Cover Letters for
Academic Positions
The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself and to demonstrate the fit between your
background and the advertised position.
THE BASICS
A cover letter must accompany and be tailored to any application you submit. STEM letters
should not exceed one page. Humanities and social sciences letters may extend up to two
pages. Check with faculty in your department.
Address to the individual named in the job posting, or with “Dear Members of the
Search Committee.
The cover letter is a writing sample. It must be good.
Proofread and spell check!
TIPS
Articulate your fit and focus on potential contributions to this institutionnot why you
need or want the job.
Show enthusiasm for the position.
Imagine yourself on the search committeewhat would you be looking for?
Answer any questions they might have. For most graduate students and postdocs,
important questions include: “When will you complete your degree?” or “When are
you available?”
WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT
Opening Paragraph
Introduce yourself to the search committee.
Refer to the specific position for which you are applying and how you learned about
the position or institution.
Briefly, but specifically, explain why you are interested in the job and institution,
beyond regurgitating the mission statement).
Include a thesis statement outlining the reasons why you are applying for this job and
what makes you an excellent candidate.
Rev 06/2014
Page 1/5
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