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Writing Cover Letter for a Postdoctoral Position

Updated on October 8, 2017

To apply for a Postdoctoral Position, the materials required are: (1) cover letter (2) curriculum vitae (3) reference letters and (4) statement of research experience. Among these, the cover letter is very important. Because it the first document seen by the principal investigator and tells the applicant’s overall background such as education, achievements, research interest, expertise, etc. Thus, in this one page letter the aspirant should present the best attributes to persuade the principal investigator that he/she is the right candidate for the advertised position.

Composing a cover letter for postdoctoral position is quite different, and this hub will provide you some important tips to create a successful cover letter.

Important points to be known before you start writing the cover letter

(1) Make sure your education and expertise match to the advertised position.

(2) Your cover letter should not duplicate your CV; however, it should highlight all your accomplishments. Further, it should stress how your expertise is related to the advertised position.

(3) A cover letter for a postdoctoral position should not run longer than one to one and half pages and about three to four paragraphs.

First paragraph of the cover letter

In the opening paragraph of your cover letter, you should provide the following information: (1) Start by briefly introducing yourself. Next, write about your current position, the department /university name, and under whom you are working (Supervisor/Principal Investigator name). If you are at the stage of writing your Ph.D. thesis, inform when you will be submitting/completing your thesis. (2) How you come to know about the position (the source of job advertisement and date). (3) In brief, write why you are interested in this new position?

Second paragraph

The second paragraph of the cover letter is very important to prove yourself. You should describe your accomplishments in the field. Provide proof to demonstrate how your educational background and technical expertise match the advertised postdoc position. In short, clearly mention about your project/thesis work. Whether your research work was interdisciplinary, what techniques/approaches you used to progress the project, results and conclusions you made out of your project. How your work contributes to the on-going research in the field. If you are moving to a new research field justify your interest. If you have published any work, provide the journal name. Describe your accomplishments with enthusiasm.

Third paragraph (Teaching experience)

For postdoctoral positions, they don’t ask teaching experience. However, if you have, you can incorporate it in the third paragraph. In brief, describe what you have taught and explain your classroom experience with specific examples. You can also use the third paragraph of the cover letter to provide additional accomplishments in the academia such as a regular manuscript reviewer for journals in your field. Again, in the third paragraph, in few words, express your research and teaching interests. Briefly, mention how this current position will help you to build your research and teaching career.

Closing paragraph

The conclusion part of the cover letter should state about the documents that you are sending with the cover letter. Add a thank-you note, your availability for telephone or personal interview, and you can also indicate that you will be willing to follow up with the application process.

Format your cover letter

Finally, whether you send your cover letter as attachment by e-mail or as a hard copy, make sure you use the right page margins; font style and color; paragraphs and spacing. Sometimes you may not be able to see these errors. Ask your friends or family members to proofread your cover letter. It is obvious that the candidate will be considered as sloppy if the cover letter is not formatted. Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity by making minor mistakes.

Additional reference

Click on below link to find samples of cover letter for postdoc position.

You can also refer in the book Winning Cover Letter for a Postdoctoral Position for creating a captivating cover letter for postdoctoral position. A step-by-step instruction with several samples will help you to write each section of the cover letter.

Good Luck! With your search.

Below hubs may be useful for postdoctoral fellows


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    • Bopi-Cheppu profile image

      Bopi-Cheppu 3 years ago from San Antonio, TX, U.S.A


      You can write but keep it brief (not more than a couple of lines). Because these types of statements are considered as common attributes and will not carry much weight. Your communication skills and personality will be evaluated during telephone or face-to-interview. Write more about your research skills and achievements in the field which will carry more weight. Good Luck!

    • profile image

      LOLA 3 years ago

      Thanks! very hepful. Just a question: do we write personal skills in a post doc cover letter? e.g I have good communication skills, ability to work within strict deadlines etc...thank you..

    • Bopi-Cheppu profile image

      Bopi-Cheppu 4 years ago from San Antonio, TX, U.S.A

      Antonio, thank you for your wishes. Good luck and have a successful research career.

    • profile image

      Antonio 4 years ago

      thank you very much. You are very willing to help people. God bless you.

    • profile image

      kumar 5 years ago

      Thanks for your kind suggestions

    • profile image

      shals 5 years ago

      Nice tips !!!