| It should be laid out in a businesslike format as follows:
Introduction - Comment the job you're applying for and where you found it advertised. Since your curriculum vitae will offer information about your degree (where and when), dissertation director, fellowships, prizes and so on, you don't need to mention them in your letter. Doing so takes up valuable space in the letter and, more importantly, marks you as a graduate student. Try to sound like a professional, someone who has already put graduate school behind you. The selection committee will look at your vitae and see all these details in a more readable format. The same goes for areas of specialization.
Dissertation - Don't spend your time with the director's name; it's in the vitae. So is the list of publications that came out of the dissertation. Don't use the letter to recapitulate anything that's in the vitae, except the title of the dissertation. This paragraph is critical. Try to convey the main idea of your project, the originality of your work, the writers you cover, and the approach you take. One nice detail of a chapter will give readers something to hold onto. You may also address future research in this or a later paragraph.
Teaching experience and philosophy - Exhibit your philosophy, maybe a brief example of how you put it to work, and special courses you would like to teach.
Final paragraph - Tell what you have enclosed, whether a dossier is on its way, how the school should get one if it needs one, whether you will be available at MLA (which you should). Don’t spend too much time thanking them.
Some important Steps
Before Writing the Letter
- Renew your resume. If you don't already possess a resume, then write one. Ideally, the experiences and skills you list on your resume should be tailored to the particular position you're applying for, reflecting strengths that'll be desirable to your potential employer.
- Examine the target organization or business so you can incorporate information or facts relating to your desired job or industry. This will not only help you in writing a relevant cover letter but it will also be useful if you get an interview.
Some key items you should become familiar with:
- What is the employer's mission? What do they promote as setting themselves apart from competitors?
- What kind of customer base does the employer cater to? What kinds of people are in their target market?
- What are the company or organization's values? Innovation? Service? Diversity? Sustainability?
- What is the history of the employer? Who was the founder? How has the business or organization evolved?
- Study the job. You should read the job description meticulously. Check for the noted and assumed needs and determine the most essential skills, qualifications and experience the employer is looking for. Write them down, and put a check mark next to the ones you have.
- Obtain the name of the manager in charge of the department you wish to work in. Use your network. Do you know someone who is in the company or industry? Can they help you? If not, call the HR department.
- Use the correct sign off – linked to how you addressed the letter:
Dear Mr(s) Carlos = Yours sincerely
Dear Sirs = Yours faithfully
Note: There is NO capital letter for sincerely or faithfully – this is a common mistake to watch out for.
- DON'T indent the first line of paragraphs on a professional typed document.
- Stick to ONE side of paper wherever possible – you don't want to overface the reader.
- DON'T use flowery language – be concise and your application will have more substance.
- Make the letter RELEVANT to the job your applying especially where your CV is of a more general nature – highlight your relevant skills (see below).
- DO PROOF read your application – careless mistakes can cost you the job.
- Be POLITE!
Here are some of the more common skills employers will want to see from you and the types of examples you may highlight in your letter:
- TEAMWORKING – 2nd year project, part-time work, sports, Young Enterprise project, Duke of Edinburgh awards.
- COMMUNICATION – written work, interpersonal built up through examples used in teams, course rep dealing with people of all levels, peer coaching, nightline rep -= listening.
- PROBLEM SOLVING – networking your house, building PCs, academic projects, designing website.
- TECHNICAL SKILLS – work you have done academically, at home or in employment that link to the job you are applying for.
- NEGOTIATING SKILLS – any customer facing roles or teamwork experiences.
- KNOWLEDGE – highlights from your education that are relevant for the company.
- ORGANISATIONAL – planning society events, coordinating projects – demonstrating good time management.
- BUSINESS AWARENESS – knowledge of Industry Company operates in.
- SELF DEVELOPMENT – extra-curricular activities to enhance all skills.