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How to Write a Job Application Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter is essential when applying for jobs. This is the perfect way to express how your specific skills are relevant to the open position. Wow your future employer with this simple cover letter example format.

Write a First Draft

Writing a first draft makes your letter concise and professional, states The Balance Careers. Organize your thoughts by making a list of what you’re trying to convey. Make sure you prioritize certain aspects like your previous job experience and why you would be a good fit for the position. Clearly state what position you’re interested in and why. Think about why you’re applying and what caught your eye about this specific position. Your cover letter will be easier to write after your thoughts are collected and organized.

Customize Your Salutation

When writing a salutation, make sure you know who you are writing to. Is this person the owner of the company or a Human Resources administrator? If you’re not sure, research the company to find out. Addressing your cover letter to a specific person shows initiative and attention to detail. After your salutation, start your letter with a short introduction of yourself. This gives future employers insight into who you are and the purpose of your cover letter.

Write Intentionally

Your cover letter should be no more than one page, so keep your points brief. Clearly state what position you are interested in and why. Explain why you are a good fit for the company because of your past job experience. If you have no similar job experience, let the employer know why you are changing career paths. Expand on your skills and give specific examples of how that skill set helped you at your last position. Name projects you’ve worked on and show results.

Close Your Letter

End your cover letter with a brief sentence and sign off. Thank the employer for their time and express your interest towards the job again. Let them know you’ll follow up with them if you do not hear back within a week and leave your contact information. Sign off with a professional farewell and leave room for a signature if sending a hard copy.

Edit and Proofread

As you finish writing your cover letter, make sure you take time to edit and proofread your document. Make sure it’s structured in a professional format with the company’s information, the salutation and introduction, the body of the letter, a brief closing sentence and farewell. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes to ensure a formal result. Make sure all names are spelled correctly, as well.


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Science Cover Letter: Examples & Writing Guide for a Scientist

Science Cover Letter: Examples & Writing Guide for a Scientist

Whether you’re a psychologist, environmental scientist, biochemist, or epidemiologist, you need a science cover letter that shows you can get the job done. See how, below.

Tom Gerencer, CPRW

As seen in:

If you want to work at Boston Scientific or Eli Lily, your science cover letter must do one thing: show the team your past accomplishments fit the job like a theorem from Euclid. Oh—and you’ve got to do it fast. Your goal? To make them read your resume like it’s got a giant funding grant inside.

Below, you’ll see a sample cover letter for scientist jobs that lands interviews, with a clear process to fit it to your career.

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from  20+ professional cover letter templates  that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

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Sample cover letter for a resume— See more cover letter samples and create your cover letter here .

Tom Gerencer, CPRW

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How to Write an Effective Cover Letter for a Research Scientist Job

Published: Oct 04, 2022 By Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.

effective cover letter for Scientist job

Research scientists   are a critical component of the life science industry.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) , medical scientists earn a median annual salary of $84,810 and typically have a doctoral or professional degree.

Some may have an M.D. but conduct research in addition to, or instead of, practicing as a physician. The BLS projects job growth for medical scientists at a faster-than-average 8% up to 2028. 

Various structures are possible for cover letters, and hiring decision-makers don ’ t offer a consensus on the best structure. But if you ’ re inexperienced with cover letters, the following offers a basic roadmap for getting started.

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Research Scientist Job

One thing that ’ s changed in recent years since many professionals first started writing about cover letters is people's attention spans.

Hiring professionals used to recommend a maximum of four paragraphs – and some people can still get away with four. Three, however, is a safer limit these days, and the full letter should never be more than a page. Some experts say hiring managers scan the whole letter in about 10 seconds.

Here ’ s a structure for your cover letter, including an optional paragraph:

Opening Paragraph

Do not waste the opening paragraph of your cover letter. It is essential that the first paragraph sparks the employer ’ s interest, provides information about the benefits the employer will receive from you, and helps you stand out from all the other job seekers. Right from the get-go, identify one or two benefits you can offer the employer and tell how you can make a difference for the organization.   

Weak opening paragraph:  I am writing today to apply for the research scientist position you have posted on BioSpace.  

Better opening paragraph:  My Ph.D. in molecular biology and five years as a postdoctoral fellow in the U.S. and in Switzerland, along with my leadership skills and ability to contribute collaboratively, will enable me to enhance your lab ’ s success in a research scientist capacity, per your current job posting on BioSpace. 

Optional Next Paragraph

Provide more detail about your professional and academic qualifications to make it an effective cover letter. Include more information about how you can provide the benefits you mention in the first paragraph. Expand on specific items from your resume that are relevant to the job you are seeking. Use solid action verbs to describe your accomplishments and achievements. If responding to a job posting or job ad, be sure to tailor this paragraph to the needs described in the ad. 

Sample Paragraph

I offer proficiency in cell biology, techniques in molecular biology in general, and RNA methodologies in particular, encompassing various techniques of DNA and RNA isolation, linear RNA amplification for microarray hybridization, RNA microinjection, RT-PCR and quantitative RealTime PCR (TaqMan), in-situ hybridization, as well as a wide variety of lab techniques and computer skills, as outlined in my CV. 

Second or Third Paragraph

Relate yourself to the company, giving details on why you should be considered for the position. Continue expanding on your qualifications while showing your knowledge of the company. Be sure you ’ ve done your homework. To make an effective cover letter, show that you know something about the organization.  

Sample Paragraph : 

My current experience as a postdoctoral research associate in the Molecular Biology Group at Novartis Pharmaceuticals AG in Basel, Switzerland, translates well to the requirements of your research-scientist position. These past three years at a leading international pharmaceutical company, along with two years of postdoctoral research at the Center for Developmental Biology, University of Texas, have bolstered an eclectic combination of skills that gives me a solid foundation upon which to make an immediate and meaningful contribution at your lab. 

Closing Paragraph

The final paragraph of an effective cover letter must be proactive – and a call to action. You must ask for the job interview (or a meeting) in this paragraph. You must express your confidence that you are a perfect fit for the job. You must also put the employer on notice that you plan to follow up within a specified time.  

Don ’ t leave the ball in the employer ’ s court. Too many cover letters end with a line like this: “ If you are interested in my qualifications, please call me.” Proactive cover letters, in which the job seeker requests an interview and promises to follow up with a phone call, are far more effective.  

Weak closing paragraph:  I hope you will review my resume, and if you agree with what I have stated here, consider me for the position. I look forward to hearing from you soon.  

Better closing paragraph:  I am eager to help advance the success of your company, and I am confident that we should arrange a time to meet. I will call your office in the next week to schedule an appointment. 

Tips and Tricks

Employer focus. Avoid telling the employer what the company can do for you instead of what you can do for the company. This rookie mistake is particularly common among new college graduates and other inexperienced job seekers. In most cases, employers are in business to make a profit. They want to know what you can do for their bottom line, not what they can do to fulfill your career dreams.   Keep it concise and edit. Your letter should be not only fairly short, but also concise and pithy. Edit your letter mercilessly. Follow the journalist ’ s credo: Write tight! Cut out all unnecessary words and jargon. Then go back and do it again.  

Proofread. If your timeframe will allow it, put your cover letter down, and then pick it up a day or two later as though you were the prospective employer. Does it grab and hold your attention? Is it concise? Is it free of typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors? Is it interesting? Is it looking like an effective cover letter? If you were the employer, would you know what this job seeker wants to do and why he or she is the best person to do it?

If you would not invite a job seeker with your cover letter for an interview, consider rewriting it to give yourself the best possible chance of securing the job.

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Writing a winning cover letter

how to write a cover letter for science job

Y our CV cover letter is both an introduction and a sales pitch. "It should show what sets this individual apart from all others," advises Jeffrey Stansbury , vice chair of the Department of Craniofacial Biology at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine in Aurora. Like any good sales pitch, your cover letter should motivate the customer to learn more about the product—in this case, you.

A good cover letter, like a good sales pitch, has several characteristics. First, like a good doctor, it does no harm: It avoids making a negative impression. Second, it demonstrates that the product suits the consumer's—your future employer's—specific needs. Third, it assures the customer that the quality of the product (you) is superb. Accomplishing all this is easier said than done. So how do you write a cover letter that will do you justice and earn an interview? First you need a plan.

If the cover letter is to be effective, it must definitely be tailored to the particular institution. —Kenton Whitmire

The objective

"A successful candidate impresses the committee right off with the cover letter and makes the committee members actually want to dig through the CV and recommendation letters to pull out the details that start to validate the positive claims," Stansbury says. "It also provides a glimpse into the applicant's personality and gives some guidance as to whether or not they can communicate in an organized, effective way."

One of the most important jobs of any good sales pitch is to avoid doing harm. Some cover letters inadvertently convey negative impressions of a candidate, especially if they "look sloppy or indicate an inability to communicate in English," says H. Robert Horvitz , who shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine and has chaired search committees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "These things can kill someone's chances," adds Kenton Whitmire , chemistry professor and former chair of the chemistry department at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Horvitz adds that cover letters "should be neat and professional," and should fit on one page. Whitmire would allow applicants a bit more room: The letter, he says, should be "no longer than one to two pages." To keep it short, "the cover letter should not reproduce the information in the CV, publications list, or other documents provided," Whitmire says, "but it should be used as a vehicle to highlight those things that the candidate believes will make him or her a good match for the position at hand."

More on writing a cover letter:

" The Commandments of Cover Letter Creation "

" The Cover Letter: Door Opener Par Excellence "

An effective cover letter doesn't just emphasize your best qualities; it also shows how well those qualities are likely to mesh with the open position. "Applicants should begin by reading advertisements for faculty positions carefully and be sure that their background and goals are appropriate for the position in question. You lose credibility if you can't make a case that you fit the ad," Whitmire says. "If the cover letter is to be effective, it must definitely be tailored to the particular institution."

"There's no excuse for not writing a cover letter that shows how your education, experience, and interests fit with what the institution is seeking," warns Julia Miller Vick, coauthor of the Academic Job Search Handbook , which is now in its fourth edition. "Not doing this would reflect laziness," Horvitz observes. At best, Vick adds, "a form letter or one that is generic doesn't accomplish much and leaves how the application is reviewed completely up to the reviewing committee." At worst, a generic cover letter can make you seem undesirable.

"While many people applying for academic positions tend to think that the review process is an evaluation of their previous work—how good is it?—the issue that is as important is the match," Whitmire says. "How will this person fit in here? The former is necessary, but the decision to interview will often be made upon research area or some other measure of fit to the department's needs at that moment in time."

Begin by learning about the department in general and the open position in particular. Department websites are a good starting point, but don't stop there. Go beyond the public information, and seek a sense of perspective. "It is best if candidates speak with their advisers and mentors to get some feel for the institution where they wish to apply," Whitmire suggests. Close senior colleagues can serve the same purpose. Read beyond the job ad, and figure out what they're really looking for.

Once you've got a fix on the institution, the department, and the open position, ask yourself what abilities or special qualities a candidate needs to excel in that position. Then determine which of your qualifications and accomplishments will particularly interest this department. Think about your research plans, past research accomplishments, special projects, and previous employment.

What evidence can you put forward that your background and plans prepare you well for this opening? How well do your research interests match those described in the advertisement? How well will they complement the work of the current faculty? How will your presence there make the department better? All this information will determine what to emphasize in your cover letter.

Writing the body of the letter

Your research accomplishments and plans should constitute the body of your cover letter for a research university position. At institutions where teaching is the primary emphasis, your primary focus should be your teaching experience, philosophy, and goals—and the suitability of your research program to a teaching-focused environment.

"An outline of plans for teaching and research needs to be specific to be meaningful," Stansbury says. Focus on your most important two or three examples of proposed research projects and innovative teaching plans, such as developing novel courses. These examples should change from one cover letter to another, as you customize your letters for different jobs.

The opening

After the body of your cover letter has been drafted, you come to the most critical step: writing an attention-getting introduction. Salespeople call this "having a handle." Your handle is what you offer that makes you especially well qualified for a particular faculty opening. For example, summarizing how well your research interests match the ones the department advertised provides an effective letter opening.

The opening paragraph should be short but more than one sentence. After you've captured the reader's attention with the handle, clearly but briefly summarize your most important—and relevant—qualifications. Anything less than a sharp focus and your readers will quickly lose interest and move on to the next application.

Closing the letter

End your letter decisively. Don't let it meander to an indefinite or weak close. A decisive close projects an image of you as assertive, confident, and decisive. It never hurts to close by requesting an interview.

Make your cover letter an example of your best writing by editing it carefully. It must be easy to read. Focus and clarity of expression in your letter imply focus and clarity of thought—very desirable qualities in a faculty member.

Then return to the critical issue: whether your research interests, other qualifications, and personality meet the search committee's requirements. Anything that doesn't accentuate the match should be deleted ruthlessly.

Now, set your letter aside for a day or two before editing it again. The detachment you gain from this short break will help you see what you've written more clearly. Detachment makes it easier to determine whether your paragraphs flow smoothly from one to the next. The logic that seemed so obvious when you were writing may seem much less so a day or two later. Carefully review both your cover letter and your CV to be sure the information in them is perfectly consistent. Often, a committee won't bother to try to resolve any discrepancies they find; they'll just move on to the next application.

Finally, Whitmire advises, "be sure to have your cover letter reviewed by someone [who] can be trusted and who has experience. Often, getting a second opinion about how something sounds to the reader—i.e., what they got from reading the letter, not what you intended in writing it—can be very valuable."

This article is an updated version of an article originally published on 10 March 2006.

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About the author, john k. borchardt.

John K. Borchardt has a Ph.D. in chemistry. He is the author of the book Career Management for Scientists and Engineers .

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Scientist Cover Letter

Scientist Cover Letter (With Examples)

You’ve done your time in school and earned the right accreditation; perhaps you’ve even got some experience under your belt. Now, it’s time to step up your game and apply for that dream job . The first thing to do is to write a cover letter .

It’s not as easy as you think, and your cover letter needs to be spot-on perfect. This is a tall order in the modern world. How do you stand out from the crowd?

That’s why we’re here to help. At Zippia , we’re experts in what jobs are out there and what hiring managers want from their applicants. That’s why we’ve put together the best advice for getting that scientist job – and it all starts with your cover letter.

Looking for a job? These position are hiring now near you:

Cover Letter Facts

Your cover letter is your first impression , it’s your chance to stand out from the crowd immediately, and it can mean everything. Here’s the kicker. Most hiring managers say that a resume is not enough. They want that cover letter. So, you can’t skip it.

That same group of recruiters also admits that they don’t really read cover letters. In fact, the average time spent reviewing a cover letter is six seconds. Imagine that, six seconds.

What does this mean? It means that your cover letter needs to be incredible. It has to be eye-catching, powerful, well-written, and well-organized. It has to make you seem like the best candidate for the job at a glance.

Parts of a Scientist Cover Letter

It’s a little frustrating to know that your cover letter is so critical, and yet it might not get read. Don’t let this get you down; it’s just a challenge, and you can overcome it.

The key is making a cover letter that begs to be read, one that uses that six-second perusal to grab attention and keep it. This is the elevator pitch of your professional abilities and skills. Treat it that way.

Let’s start with the boring stuff. Before you get creative, nailing the essential parts of a cover letter is critical. This is a good place to begin. Your cover letter needs to include :

Your contact information. Make sure it’s easy to contact you by putting your contact information at the very top of the cover letter.

Employer’s contact information. You can include the employer’s contact information as part of the heading or the salutation, but it’s not always necessary. This is somewhere you can cut out content if your letter is too long.

Salutation. One thing you can’t omit is the salutation . “To Whom It May Concern” is still a common introduction but not a good one. If you can (it’s not always possible), find out who your application is going to and address it to that individual. That’s a big way to get their attention right off the bat.

Opening. Why are you writing? Start getting creative here. They know they have a job opening, so you can immediately tell them that you’re the best candidate.

Cover letter body. In a perfect cover letter world, the body of your letter contains three paragraphs. They are:

First paragraph. Highlight your education, experience, qualifications , and highlights of your career. Consider bullet-points to be more of a stand-out candidate.

Second paragraph. Your knowledge of the company and how you fit into their culture, their mission, etc.

Third paragraph. Thank the recruiter for taking the time to read your cover letter. Let them know you’re available for any questions they may have or if they need additional information.

Closing. In the closing , use something straightforward and professional, such as “Sincerely,” “Best Regards,” or “Appreciatively.”

Signature. In the past, when actual letters were sent, there were four lines between the closing and your typed signature. In this spot, you handwrote your name. If you’re sending a real letter, this is the route to take.

If you’re emailing your cover letter, then you can leave only one line blank, go to the next line and type your name. Follow your name with your email address and your phone number. This again gives them a quick way to contact you .

CC/Attachment. If you are sending the email to another person, perhaps there are two hiring managers, then each one should find the abbreviation CC (it stands for carbon copy) at the bottom of the letter on the left-hand side.

Typically, it’s written as CC with a colon and then the name of the other recipient — for example, CC: David Lewis.

If you’re adding an attachment, which in this case is probably your resume and maybe some work samples or additional documentation, then you should write “attachment” at the bottom of the letter also. You might want to do a colon and list the attachments, but that’s not required.

Search For Scientist Jobs

Scientist cover letter opening.

Cover letters used to be very formulaic, which is probably why so many of them still are. The cover letters that get ignored are the ones that state something obvious like you’re applying for the job of Scientist that you saw advertised on Zippia , and you think you’d be a good fit for the role.

You can see why this doesn’t grab anyone’s attention. They probably don’t care where you saw the job; they know you think you’re a good fit or you wouldn’t be writing. There is a little merit to listing what job you want, but not too much.

This is where you need to get creative and grab their attention. Try something like this cover letter opening sample.

My Ph.D. in Computer Science from Northwestern University and five years working with Google have uniquely qualified me to be your new Lead Research Scientist. My past co-worker and your current Director of Development, Johnny Smith, suggested this position to me as he thought I would be the ideal fit. I happen to agree and am excited to bring my talents to your team.

See how this introduction is better as it dives right into your qualifications and even mentions a referral, which should grab their attention.

Scientist Cover Letter Body

Remember that the body of the cover letter should ideally have three paragraphs. You want the entire letter to only be one page long, so this is where you get a little room to adjust your length and format.

We recommend using bullet points for quick and easy reference, but it tends to make the letter appear longer. Check out our sample scientist cover letter body.

I was afforded the opportunity to try many different approaches at Google and am most proud of my accomplishments in the following areas. Boosted click-through rates on answer boxes by 42% Divided SEO into two new verticals and successfully managed both Improved productivity in SEO verticals by 24% by specializing teams Successfully worked with implementation teams for the entire term of employment While Google is indeed a standout on my resume, my educational experiences at Northwestern as a student and professor make me an even better fit for your company. Quaker Education is renowned for offering its employees learning opportunities. This is what excites me most about being your Lead Research Scientist. I am a dedicated educator who is looking to pair my years of experience in the classroom with a corporate setting. I am enclosing my resume and a research project list, which details my primary research activities. I am more than happy to provide additional documentation upon request, and I’m available for any questions you may have.

Scientist Cover Letter Closing Lines

Remember to keep the closing very professional. You really don’t need to include a sentence asking for a meeting, so use your best judgment there. Check out this example.

I’d love to arrange to have a meeting to further discuss this position and what I can bring to the role. Appreciatively, Carol Petersen [email protected] (888) 111-2222

Sample Cover Letter for a Scientist

Now that we’ve looked at the key sections of a cover letter, let’s put it all together and see what we’ve come up with.

Mark Rumsfield Hiring Manager, Quaker Education 1234 High Boulevard California City, CA 93505 (888) 333-4444 3/15/2021 Carol Petersen, Ph.D. 2 Park Street California City, CA 93505 (888) 111-2222 [email protected] Dear Mr. Rumsfield, My Ph.D. in Computer Science from Northwestern University and five years working with Google have uniquely qualified me to be your new Lead Research Scientist. My past co-worker and your current Director of Development, Johnny Smith, suggested this position to me as he thought I would be the ideal fit. I happen to agree and am excited to bring my talents to your team. I was afforded the opportunity to try many different approaches at Google and am most proud of my accomplishments in the following areas. Boosted click-through rates on answer boxes by 42% Divided SEO into two new verticals and successfully managed both Improved productivity in SEO verticals by 24% by specializing teams Successfully worked with implementation teams for the entire term of employment While Google is indeed a standout on my resume, my educational experiences at Northwestern as a student and professor make me an even better fit for your company. Quaker Education is renowned for offering its employees learning opportunities. This is what excites me most about being the Lead Research Scientist. I am a dedicated educator who is looking to pair my years of experience in the classroom with a corporate setting. I am enclosing my resume, a research project list, which details my primary research activities, and a letter of recommendation . I am more than happy to provide additional documentation upon request, and I’m available for any questions you may have. I’d love to arrange to have a meeting to further discuss this position and what I can bring to the role. Appreciatively, Carol Petersen [email protected] (888) 111-2222 Attachments

Scientist Cover Letter Tips

Here are a few more tips to help you land that job and make your cover letter a standout. So, consider doing the following:

Customize. Make sure your cover letter points out your career highlights. You don’t need to cover everything, just the highlights.

Add statistics. Science is often about numbers or data. It’s a great idea to have some statistics to back up your successes.

Approximate. If you don’t have the exact skills they’re looking for, make sure to point out how the skills you have do relate to what they want.

Job research. Point out important research that the potential employer has done. They’ll be impressed with your knowledge, and if you can talk about how that research affected or inspired you – all the better.

Proofread. Yes, this is a tip that can be applied to anyone applying for any job. But it’s worth mentioning because one error can ruin your chances. Let that sink in. One error — It’s worth proofing your cover letter several times if you’re serious about the job.

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Science Cover Letter Examples

How to build a successful science cover letter.

Professionals in the scientific field work in a wide array of positions and disciplines, from the study of biology and medical research to humanities and social science. Earning a position in your scientific discipline requires an optimized cover letter that showcases your most relevant professional strengths .

In this guide, we teach you all the essential information to include in a science cover letter. Continue reading to learn more about:

Research Intern Cover Letter Example

1. Format your science cover letter header and headline properly

The beginning of any great science cover letter starts with an excellently formatted header and headline.

A cover letter header always comes first, placed at the top of the page. This header should contain key pieces of information about both you and the employer, such as:

Here is an example of a well-formatted science cover letter header

John Doe , Biology Scientist (123) 456-7890 | [email protected] |

To: General Labs & Development, Inc. Biology Science Department 1234 Street Address Washington, D.C. 2001

Following your header is a cover letter headline . Think of this as a title to your cover letter that highlights key points and helps to captivate the employer’s attention .

Your headline should be one sentence or line of text and include compelling details that are highly relevant to both the position you are applying to and the content of your cover letter.

Here is an example of a well-written science cover letter headline

My 3-Step Approach to Conducting Scientific Research & How This Approach Can Benefit Your Lab

2. Make your science cover letter personalized to specific employers

Writing cover letters is a fairly commonplace practice, with most employers expecting to receive a cover letter when job applications are submitted for open positions.

What many applicants don’t realize, however, is that a core requirement of a successful cover letter is personalization . Personalization refers to a process of tailoring a cover letter to be highly specific to each individual employer, addressing their specific wants and needs.

To personalize a cover letter, it is crucial to research the employer thoroughly ahead of time to find out essential details, such as the company’s values and goals.

Additionally, you should always include a personalized greeting on your cover letter that addresses a specific person by name, such as the company CEO or a hiring manager.

Here are 3 examples of personalized science cover letter greetings

Dear Lab Supervisor Jack Green,

3. Write an effective introduction for your science cover letter

The next necessity for your science cover letter is an effective and compelling introduction .

Introductory paragraphs should be concise, typically between two to three sentences in total. In this introduction, you want to provide the employer with a clear explanation of why you are a qualified candidate that should be considered for the job.

Here is an example of an effective science cover letter introduction

I am a recent graduate of Columbia University with a Master of Science in Clinical Research Methods. In my time as a student at Columbia, I worked for 3 years as a lab assistant and 1 year as a lab teaching assistant. My experience in the university labs has given me the technical prowess and interpersonal competence to effectively fulfill the role of assistant lab supervisor at your company.

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4. Highlight your professional strengths as a scientist

In a resume, you spend a lot of your writing space delving into the specifics of your educational and work experience. Comparatively, in a cover letter, you should spend more time explaining your top achievements and relevant skills , highlighting these qualifications as your professional strengths.

As you describe your key skills and achievements, make sure to include details that are highly relevant to the position and include contextual information. Your primary goal is to show the employer the real-life value you bring to the table that gives you an edge over other applicants.

Here are 6 skills to describe in a science cover letter

Here is an example of how to describe an achievement in a science cover letter

As a Lab Scientist at [Former Employer], I worked as a lab assistant helping to supervise experiments carried out by undergraduate students. In this role, I play a key role as a student mentor, helping to implement safer laboratory practices that resulted in a 15% decrease in dangerous lab incidents. Additionally, I led a research experiment that resulted in the development of a new scientific patent for the university.

5. Conclude your science cover letter with a well-written closing statement

Anytime you write a science cover letter, you should always end with a strong conclusion that reiterates your excitement for the position and encourages the employer to get in touch with you.

In your conclusion, make sure to include:

Here is an example of a strong conclusion from a science cover letter

As your company is one of the top scientific research centers in D.C., it brings me great excitement and gratitude to be considered for this position. I look forward to speaking with you more about this opportunity and am available to meet on Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To best reach me, please call me at (123) 456-7890.

With Sincerity,

[Applicant Name]

If you have ever wondered how a cover letter differs from a resume, this article will tell you everything about the key differences between the two .

Martin Poduška — Editor in Chief / Resume Writer

Martin Poduška

Martin is a resume expert and career advice writer at Kickresume. In his five years at Kickresume, he has written nearly 100 in-depth, painstakingly researched resume advice articles and, as chief editor, he has also edited and revised every single article on this website. Tens of thousands of job seekers read Martin’s resume advice every month. He holds a degree in English from the University of St Andrews and a degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Amsterdam .


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How to write a successful cover letter for science jobs

Crafting a great science cover letter is an essential part of the job application process. Even if you’re right for the role and have a polished CV, you still need to prove why you’re the best person for the job.

Let’s face it: most of us dread the prospect of having to write a cover letter. Promoting ourselves can often feel uncomfortable, and writing in a persuasive, compelling style is already difficult enough.

Fortunately, writing a top-notch cover letter doesn’t require the prose abilities of Austen or Hemingway. By following a tried-and-tested formula and getting straight to the heart of what the hiring manager is looking for, anyone — regardless of writing ability — can produce an effective cover letter that really showcases your talents. 

Indeed, writing a cover letter can be a real confidence-boosting exercise and even add to your professional skill set.

How to Write a Science Cover Letter


Research the hiring company

To kick off the cover letter process, you should spend an hour or two of your time acquainting yourself with the role and the company.

By aiming to better understand the business, the role, and how you’d fit into the bigger picture as an employee, you’ll be able to keep your cover letter direct and to the point from the very first word.

After all, you can never do too much research. If you’re not equipped with even the most basic knowledge of the company, how can you properly demonstrate that you’re right for the role?

Your research will also help you confirm whether or not you want to work for the company. Do the company’s mission and values align with your own? If not, then you may want to consider another role.

What to look out for

Aim to familiarise yourself with info on the following:

Where to look

You can use social media channels such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor employee reviews, and science publications. You should also browse through the company’s website, which will (or at least should ) provide information on what they do (in their own words) and the team.

The information you gather will help you tailor your cover letter according to what the company and hiring manager are looking for in the job description.

Analyse the job description

The job description is pivotal to the cover letter. While each job description differs in detail and scope from the next, they all have the same purpose: to outline the type of person that the employer requires.

Job descriptions usually start by offering an overview of the company and role, before getting into the nitty-gritty of which skills and experience are required, as well as what the role entails. Often, these are in the form of bullet points, which can help you separate and identify the exact points that your cover letter needs to cover.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cover every bullet point, but you should definitely try to cover the most important ones.

To recap: Always have one eye on the job description when writing your cover letter. Let the former act as your guide; follow it closely and you’ll be better placed to prove your suitability to the hiring manager.


How long should a cover letter be?

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer. As a benchmark, one sheet of A4 paper or 250 to 500 words will usually suffice, but the length of your cover letter will largely depend on two things:

PRO TIP: Always write a new cover letter for each role you apply to. Every job (and therefore every job description) is different, so try not to reuse an old cover letter or rely on a one-size-fits-all template. If you do have a template, then at least ensure you tailor it to the exact role you are applying for on a case-by-case basis.

Now, let’s get into the actual writing.

How to start your cover letter

The start of a cover letter is arguably the most important section. Your intro will set the tone for the reader, so make sure you are forthright and direct, but also aim to demonstrate your uniqueness and suitability for the role as early as possible.

After all, each open position will likely attract dozens of applications — which is a lot of reading for those in charge of hiring (many of whom will be strapped for time and have other responsibilities to attend to).

How to choose the right greeting for your cover letter

If you know the name of the person you’re addressing (tip: this is often stated on the job advert), use a simple:

Dear [first name],

If you don’t have a name, it’s worth gauging the tone of the company you’re applying for by browsing through their website and social media pages. If the company uses formal or technical language, go for:

To whom it may concern,

If the company is less formal (as many startups tend to be), the following greetings will be appropriate:

Dear hiring manager,

OR (for a company with a particularly informal culture)

Make the reader know your intentions from the outset

Hiring managers are busy people. Given that there’s a good chance your application may be skimmed through, it’s crucial that you stand out. Once you’ve chosen a greeting, you’ll need a killer opening line.

If writing doesn’t come naturally, don’t worry — you’re not being judged on the merits of your prose. Instead, aim to outline your intentions in the opening line. For example:

Please accept this as my application for the position of [Job Title] with [Company Name].

Now you’ve set your stall, it’s time to briefly summarise:

In one or two paragraphs, explain what attracted you to the job posting and include some relevant information about what the organisation does. This will demonstrate that your research on their company has gone beyond just the job title and job spec.

PRO TIP: Aim for paragraphs of between three and six lines. This will break up the text for the hiring manager and make it easier to read through. 

Think of your cover letter as an elevator pitch 

Much like a sales pitch, the cover letter represents your chance to sell yourself. But instead of trying to sell an idea or a product in a five-minute presentation, you’ll have a page of A4 to impress the hiring manager and showcase your suitability. As you start writing, aim to make every word, sentence, and paragraph count. Likewise, aim to remove anything that doesn’t add value.

What to include in the cover letter main body

Once you’ve crafted a snappy intro of one or two paragraphs, the bulk of the letter should see you systematically work through the job description and highlight any skills, experience, and the techniques that are relevant to the role.

Be explicit, as these are the details that will jump out to a busy recruiter or hiring manager who may be scanning your letter.

Here are some pointers on what to bear in mind or include when writing your cover letter.

Write in the company’s tone of voice 

If you’ve done your research on the employer, you’ll likely have picked up pointers on the type of language they use externally (if not internally, too). 

When writing and editing your cover letter, aim to mirror their tone of voice as closely as possible. Do they place emphasis on scientific jargon? Use scientific jargon. Do they have a conversational approach? Write to them in a conversational way (though again, not too informal). 

By mirroring cultural markers, you’ll subconsciously stand out to the hiring manager as someone who is likely to quickly assimilate.

Provide situational evidence of your competencies 

Given the technical demands of scientific roles, hiring managers want to see evidence of you applying your technical knowledge to real-world scenarios. You’ll therefore need to demonstrate how your background, skills, experience, and attitude can enhance the business you are applying for. 

To do so, you should refer to one successful real-life example where you have saved your previous/current employer time and money or have streamlined processes to increase profitability. Using the ‘ STAR ’ technique will help give you a rounded example. STAR stands for:

Situation — Briefly describe the background to the situation

Task — Describe the task or challenge you were faced with

Action — Describe what you did and why you did it

Result — Describe the outcome of your actions

Show your personality 

This key part of any cover letter is often neglected (particularly by scientists!). While skills, experience, and aptitude is crucial for any hire, so too is the personality and cultural fit of each candidate. 

Given that many scientific roles continue to be office- or lab-based, every hiring manager is looking for candidates who value teamwork and camaraderie. As such, you should include a paragraph that provides an insight into who you are outside of work. 

This doesn’t have to be a huge achievement; it can be as simple as the things you like to do in your downtime (e.g. activities with family and friends; hobbies; groups; charitable endeavours; engagement with the local community).

Demonstrate your adaptability and willingness to learn  

Innovation in STEM happens at a breakneck pace, so most employers are looking for candidates who are adaptable and up to date with the latest trends. Focusing on your transferable skills will demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re self-aware and on a journey of professional development. It will also show that you can be a long-term asset to the business.

Include memorable numbers and statistics  

Much like how an infographic helps break up a blog, any relevant or valuable data will immediately stand out to the reader and pique their interest (especially as they’re likely to be scientific professionals themselves). Let’s be honest, “ I increased lab efficiency by 35% ” sounds more impressive than the vague “ I increased lab efficiency .”

Use keywords

Make sure to pepper your cover letter with relevant keywords that relate to the role or job, particularly any that are included in the job description. 

For a molecular biology role, for example, skills- or technique-related keywords may include things like PCR (polymerase chain reaction) , gel electrophoresis , ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) , and cell culture . 

For an analytical chemistry role, this could include HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) , GC (gas chromatography) , and/or MS (mass spectrometry) . Of course, you should only include keywords that are relevant to the role and reflect your actual experience.

Be honest about your experience 

Like with your CV, you’ll eventually get caught out if you include half-truths in your cover letter. If you’re missing experience, there’s no need to apologise or try and overcompensate for it elsewhere. Simply act natural and let your actual experiences and values come to the fore. Besides, being honest will help you better recall what you wrote in any subsequent interview — and help you avoid any awkward umming and ahhing.

How to end a cover letter

If your reader has made it this far, you’ll want to leave them with a favourable final impression of your application. After all, there’s no use in nailing the introduction and main body if you simply rush the ending and/or sign off with a whimper.

Instead, you want to end with a bang.

First up, summarise your key strengths, skills, and experience. In one or two sentences, reiterate the most important points from your main body. Don’t simply lift words or phrases from earlier in the cover letter, though. Rephrase what you’ve already said and, if possible, try to inject something new into it.

In your closing statement, you want to exude professionalism and confidence, but without being pushy. Round off your cover letter by thanking the reader for their time and attention, and offer your contact details so that you are easy to get in touch with should they wish to organise a further exploratory conversation with you.

Keep it short and sweet.

Finally, choose a professional and courteous salutation to wrap up your letter, such as,“ Yours sincerely ” (only if the recipient is addressed by their name), “ Kind regards , ” or “ Thank you for your consideration .” Avoid overly casual or informal phrases such as, “ Yours , ” “ Cheers , ” or “ Take care .”


Before sending your cover letter...

Proofread your letter. 

Some scientific roles will require writing skills, so try to avoid any embarrassing typos (“ King regards ” crops up very frequently). A second pair of eyes always helps, so ask a close friend to give it a read. Free plugins such as Grammarly can also help you spot repeated words or grammatical errors, which can be a real timesaver (and lifesaver!) when writing.

Make sure it sells you as the best person for the job. 

While a good cover letter takes time, you’ll also feel proud when you’ve got it down to a tee. Put yourself in the shoes (or reading glasses) of the hiring manager: does the letter excite you? If not, you may need to add some more tweaks.

Writing an email subject line for a job application 

In many instances, the job advert will instruct you to apply via email. This requires creating a strong subject line to capture the hiring manager’s attention.

When crafting your subject line, don’t overthink it. Be succinct and direct. Unless explicitly instructed otherwise, include both the job title of the role you are applying for and the company. For example:

Application for the position of [Job Title] with [Company Name]

The above is short, simple, and to the point. In other words, it’s an effective way of telling the hiring manager exactly what to expect when they open the email.

How to follow up your job application

If you’ve not had an acknowledgement or feedback on your application within the suggested time on the advertisement (or a week if not stated), follow it up with an email. Demonstrate you are keen, interested, and motivated to successfully see your application through.

In your follow-up email, you should open with a polite and courteous salutation, keep it brief, and express in sentence or two why you are a good fit. Then, ask any questions related to the job at the end of the email. As before, close with a professional salutation.

Follow-up email template

Subject Line:  Molecular Scientist Position - [Your full name] Application

Dear [their first name].

I hope you are well. I recently submitted my application for the molecular scientist position and wondered if it would be possible to receive an update on your decision timeline.

I am very interested in working at [company name] and believe that my skill set —  especially my extensive experience in [give example of relevant experience] at [current or former employer]  — make me an  ideal fit for the role.

Please let me know if you need any additional information from my end.

Thanks again for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

[Your full name]

With that said, good luck in your job hunting!

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How to write a science cover letter

A great science cover letter is often one of the most important parts of a job application. you may have a brilliant cv, but submitting a poor cover letter with your application can shatter your chances of securing your dream science role., this is sometimes the only opportunity you will be given to illustrate to an employer exactly why your cv is worth a read and why you are the person they are looking for..

Employer reading a cover letter

Take a look at our handy tips on how to write a science cover letter successfully:

Research the company and the industry

Taking the time to look into the company, as well as the specific scientific, clinical or technical industry, you are applying for will demonstrate to the recruiter that you are serious about the role at hand. You could use social media sites such as LinkedIn, publications or simply the company’s website to gather information that will make you appear informed. Once you have done this, you can tailor your cover letter to show that your skills and your character match what the employer is looking for.

During your research, it is a good idea to focus on:

Analyse the job description 

Make precise reference to the key competencies and experience necessary for the role. Personalise the cover letter by illustrating how you fit the criteria with past achievements and accomplishments. This will assure the reader that you are a great match for what they are looking for, as well as provide them with a little insight into what they can expect from you.

If you want to work in pharmaceuticals, highlight your experience with GMP. If you want to work in medical devices, demonstrate your knowledge of working within a production environment.

Keep it to the point

Your cover letter should not fill more than one A4 page – you should aim for around half to three quarters of the page being covered. Writing too much could bore the recruiter and encourage them to stop reading. Include the most important points only, the rest can be found in your CV. Read our CV writing tips here .

Structure your science cover letter correctly

A science cover letter should flow well and be structured to ensure that the employer gets the most vital information in a professional, efficient way. We suggest this structure:

Your address

Include your home address in the top right hand corner of the letter, as well as your mobile number, email address and LinkedIn profile (find out how to create the perfect LinkedIn profile here ). Make it clear how the employer can contact you.

Address the reader

‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Miss…’ – always address the letter to the decision maker of the role, and never to the general recruitment department. If you are unsure who this might be, you can search LinkedIn or ask the HR department for guidance.

Paragraph 1

Start the cover letter by clearly stating your intention to apply for the job, including any reference numbers the job has. In this paragraph you should tell the employer why you are applying for this specific role and where you found out about the position (whether that be on the company’s website, on social media or through a friend). It is a good idea to include a sentence designed to grab the attention of the reader, by highlighting a key achievement or core strength that demonstrates your suitability for the role.

Paragraph 2

Outline your qualifications and experience and then match these to the requirements of the job you are applying for (these will be found in the job description). Go on to demonstrate your motivation and enthusiasm to help the company achieve their goals within the industry. Use this paragraph as your chance to impress the employer and motivate them to take a look at your CV by drawing their attention to your past successes but leaving them wanting to find out more.

Paragraph 3

This paragraph is where the research you conducted about the company and the industry before writing the cover letter will come in handy. Go into detail about why you would like to work for this company specifically and how the skills and experience you possess will add to their success. You should also refer to the organisation’s values and core culture, stating why you will fit in.

Paragraph 4

It is a good idea to end with a positive statement in this paragraph and provide a call to action since you are hoping to secure an interview. Go on to direct the reader to your enclosed/attached CV and inform them of your availability for interview. Finally, thank the reader for their time and consideration, and welcome them to get in touch to discuss the job in more detail.

You should finish the letter with ‘Yours Sincerely’ if you have addressed it to a named contact, or ‘Yours Faithfully’ if you have addressed it simply as ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, and sign your name.

Check, check and check again

Submitting a cover letter that is littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will give a negative first impression to the reader, and may even encourage them to reject your application. Use a spell checker, get a trusted friend to proofread it for you, or even ask your CK consultant to take a look. Meet our team here .

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The top 10 CV buzzwords

Being selective with your CV

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Home Cover Letter Examples Science Cover Letter

Science Cover Letter Example

February 23, 2022 | By the Resume Genius Team | Reviewed by Geoffrey Scott, CPRW

Need help writing a scientist cover letter for an academic or industry job? Use our science cover letter sample and follow our practical writing tips to simplify the process.

Science cover letter example

Want a different design? Download another cover letter template from our collection.

Samples Similar to a Science Cover Letter

Science Cover Letter Template (Text Format)

Make sure you use proper cover letter format to ensure that your cover letter is readable and professional.

[Today’s Date]

[Hiring Manager’s Name] [341 Company Address] [Company City, State xxxxx] [(xxx)-xxx-xxxx] [[email protected]]

Dear [Dr./Mr./Ms./Mx.] [Hiring Manager’s Last Name],

I’m writing to express my interest in a postdoctoral research position in your lab at Harvard University, which I discovered through your lab website. I recently received my Ph.D. from the Chemistry Department at Columbia University under the supervision of Dr. John Smith. In my thesis work, I applied my skills in structural chemistry to characterize chromatin factors involved in human cancer. As your lab uses chemistry to investigate cancer epigenetics and functional genomics, I believe my diverse technical skills and interest in cancer research make me an ideal fit for your lab.

One major part of my thesis work was the isolation of the protein MADP-1, which has eluded purification by the field for six years. Having tried three conventional methods to isolate MADP-1, I tackled the problem through development of a novel purification scheme. I then determined the contacts between MADP-1 and PRC2 by X-ray crystallography. As the Smith Lab specializes in the study of metabolic signaling proteins – rather than chromatin factors – involved in cancer, I pioneered three chromatin assays in our lab. To further elevate the MADP-1 project, I collaborated with chromatin expert Dr. Maria Curry Lab at Stanford. Therefore, I am not afraid to go where the research takes me, and value being both an independent as well as highly collaborative researcher.

I am particularly interested in your work in cancer epigenetics, specifically your recent publications using CRISPR/Cas9-induced mutagenesis for genome-wide screens. Having planned and executed three high-throughput drug screens and assisted with two genetic screens, I am confident that I can apply my previous experience to perform similar screens in your laboratory. Additionally, I trained four undergraduates during my PhD. Specifically, I taught bench techniques, oversaw experiments, and edited their scientific writing, such as conference posters and senior theses. As a postdoctoral researcher at your laboratory, it would be a privilege to continue mentoring junior researchers.

I believe my resourceful and collaborative nature, interdisciplinary technical skills, and interest in disease research make me well-suited to work in your lab. I look forward to discussing more with you about my fit within your research group. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Jane Webster

How to write a science cover letter

Learning how to put together a cover letter for the specific job(s) you want will help you land more interviews.

Applying for jobs related to science? You’re going to need a cover letter that precisely outlines how you’d fulfill the needs of the position.

The first goal of your science cover letter is to make the hiring manager want to examine your other application materials. Another main purpose of your cover letter is to provide details about your professional background that you couldn’t fit in your science CV.

While our scientific cover letter example is written for an academic postdoc position , it can also give you ideas for writing cover letters for science jobs in industry.

Follow these four tips to write a cover letter for a scientist position:

1. Research the job thoroughly

Job descriptions can be sparse, especially for academic science positions. You may be left with only a vague idea of the exact job responsibilities and required qualifications.

To learn more about a position (whether at a lab or a company), look at their:

Your research will not only tell you if the role is right for you, but will help you to write a cover letter as your employer’s ideal candidate.

Altogether, your investigative work can tell you about different aspects of the place you’re applying to, including their:

If the job description itself is more elaborate, make sure to highlight any of your specific skills or qualities that are explicitly asked for.

2. Emphasize how you are a good fit

Convey how your interests , technical skills , or both align with those of the role you’re applying for.

Often, showing enthusiasm for the job is more important than having all the prerequisite skills. Many employers don’t mind – and even expect – that you will have to learn some skills on the job.

To show excitement for the position, consider answering the following questions in your body paragraphs:

If you have other skills in addition to the prerequisites, describe how you would apply your different technical knowledge to advance the research or help the company fulfill its goals.

3. Provide data about yourself

As a scientist, you are well-trained in collecting and analyzing data. Your science cover letter is the place to use this skill on yourself.

Below are a few examples of the specifics you can include, and appropriate cover-letter action words to pair with them:

Quantifying your achievements not only sounds impressive, but makes your claims more believable at face value. If the hiring manager still doesn’t take your word for it, they can easily verify the numbers.

If the job description requires a research summary in your cover letter, talk about your research in a way that highlights you – not just what you discovered. For example, you can demonstrate your persistence and problem-solving skills by describing the different techniques you tried to get an experiment working, rather than just stating the experiment’s result.

4. Talk about your future plans

While your science CV tells a story about your past, your science cover letter can show where you’re headed.

Highlight how the job and your goals align

Perhaps bringing life-saving drugs to market in the private sector is the reason you went to graduate school. Maybe you’ve always wanted to study dolphins, and becoming a professor will let you do that.

State a more general goal that can be various timescales away (next year, five years, ten years), and how this role will either help you advance towards or achieve your goal. For example, if applying for an academic job, mention what your future research goals are.

Show you can handle the next step

As you are climbing the ranks at a company or in academia, show the hiring manager you have what it takes to do the job at the next level.

For instance, postdocs are often more independent, so give examples from your graduate work where you were able to think for yourself. A director of R&D at a company has to manage people, so give examples of how you supervised others earlier in your career.

Don’t forget to mention the immediate future

End your cover letter by saying you will be in touch or are looking forward to hearing from them soon.

Extra Science Cover Letters, Resumes, & CVs:

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Writing an effective science cover letter.

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

Writing an effective science cover letter.

Your cover letter is an important part of your job search, even with the rise of online job applications. Spending time on your cover letter is worthwhile. It may be the first piece of information about you that the hiring manager sees. Science cover letters, while they may include some unique sections, share characteristics with those used in other fields. An effective cover letter can help get you past the screening phase and into the interview room when the field is crowded. Here are some steps to help you develop an effective cover letter for a scientist position.

Why should you write a science cover letter?

When you’re applying for a job, your cover letter has one purpose. It should convince the hiring manager that your skills and experience might be right for the job and that you are worth further consideration. Therefore, if the application process allows for the submission of a cover letter, you should submit one. In highly competitive fields such as the hard sciences, the cover letter for a scientist job application may be the difference between getting an interview and getting no response at all.

Learn More:  How to Write a Cover Letter

How to write a science cover letter

A science cover letter includes the typical summary of your experience and qualifications, but it also focuses on your academic credentials, presentations, publications, and research projects on which you may have worked. Internships and fellowships may figure prominently in a cover letter for a scientist position. Here are a few things to consider as you are creating yours:

Learn More:  How to List Publications on Resume

Use the format of a standard business letter

Take the time to identify the hiring manager so that you can use the correct name and address in the letter. Phrases like “To Whom It May Concern,” are outdated and don’t demonstrate a sincere interest in the position. When a job has hundreds of applicants, a generic form cover letter gives the hiring manager a reason to eliminate you. Unless it’s specifically prohibited in the posting, call the company to get a specific name from the Human Resources department. Try to get the name of the person who will be doing the initial review of the applications.

Introduce yourself right away

Give an overview of your education, experience, and skills but don’t repeat exactly what is on your resume. Share what you feel are your greatest accomplishments, research projects, or publications. Then go one step further and relate those achievements to the position for which you are applying.

Refer to the job posting or description and describe how you are a good match. For example, if you are applying for a job as a researcher in a laboratory environment, choose an accomplishment that highlights your experience in that setting. If the job description lists a particular piece of equipment, describe your experience with it. Show the employer how you improved safety in the computer science lab, reduced operating expenses, or increased efficiencies.

Explain why you are a great fit

You want to go beyond showing why you are a good fit for the job. You want to show the hiring manager why you are the best choice for the company. To effectively sell yourself as the ideal match for the business, you need to research the company thoroughly. You want to understand the organization’s mission, vision, and values, and you want to develop an understanding of what the business needs you to achieve on its behalf if you are the selected candidate.

You may be able to find the information you need online, but if not, network with your connections to find someone who works there who can give you insight. Tailor your cover letter to the specific position to which you are applying rather than speaking in broader terms about the sciences. Share how your personal and professional goals align with those of the company.

Describe briefly how you, as the ideal candidate for the job, can help the company meet its goals. The employer will be impressed with the time and effort you put into learning about the enterprise. Understanding the organization’s position demonstrates that you are interested in contributing to its success.

Learn More:  How to End the Perfect Cover Letter

Proofread carefully

Simple mistakes such as these in your science cover page make it far too easy for a hiring manager to pass over your application in favor of a more careful candidate. Pay special attention to scientific terminology and vocabulary specific to the company or the position. While online proofreading programs can help catch basic errors, don’t rely completely on software to check your spelling and grammar. Some types of errors will make it past those filters. Proofread carefully yourself and have someone else review it as well.

Learn More:  How to Write a Resume

Use a professional tone

While some sources may recommend a conversational and casual tone, the sciences tend to be more formal. Strive for a tone that is professional but cordial, expressing confidence and enthusiasm without venturing into hyperbole. The only exception would be if you are applying to work for an employer known for a low-key, casual atmosphere. If you don’t know what the work environment is like, visit the company website and talk with your contacts to learn more. Matching the tone of your letter to that of the company is a good way to stand out from other applicants.

Learn More:  Words and Phrases to Never Include in a Cover Letter

Scientific cover letter example

Science cover letter samples can be helpful to help you get started. Here is one that may give you some ideas:

January 4, 2021

Charles Thompson

Hiring Manager

Jackson Laboratories

2468 West Forest Avenue

Medon TN 38356

Dear Mr. Thompson:

My name is Leigh Canovan, and I would like to be the next Laboratory Safety Manager at your Medon facility as advertised in your posting dated December 15, 2020. I hold a Master’s degree in Laboratory Sciences and more than 15 years of experience in similar roles. I am competent in all of the equipment listed in the job description. In fact, in my current role, I successfully negotiated a new contract for safety equipment, saving my employer more than $10,000 per year. These skills are a good match for the budget management responsibilities described in the job posting.

Based on my research, I understand that Jackson Laboratories prides itself on the safety of its facilities and has set a goal of having zero lost-time workplace injuries. The job description states that the Laboratory Safety Manager is responsible for purchasing, installing, and maintaining the proper equipment to achieve that goal. Improving laboratory safety is a passion of mine as demonstrated in my success in my current role. We have had no lost-time accidents in our facility for the last five years, and I would take great pride in helping Jackson Laboratories reach similar success.

The job posting also mentions that Jackson Laboratories would like to get involved in researching new innovations in lab safety. I recently co-authored a study on several new types of personal protective equipment, demonstrating my experience and ability to help the company implement such a plan. Also, in 2015, I was the lead researcher in another study on the use of new materials in safety goggles. Thank you for the opportunity to learn more about this position. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this more with you in an interview.

Leigh Canovan

Scientific cover letter template

Here is a template to help you get started with your biotech cover letter:

Name of the hiring manager

Title of the hiring manager

Name of the company

Address of the company

City, State, ZIP

Dear prefix and name of the hiring manager:

The first sentence introduces you and gives a direct statement about why you want the job. Briefly outline your education, experiences, and qualifications without repeating word-for-word what is on your resume. Describe an accomplishment that demonstrates why you are the best person for the job.

The second paragraph should show what you have learned from your research on the company. Describe why your own professional goals are aligned with those of the company. Draw from your own experience and describe how it matches what the employer is looking for in the job description. Talk about how you can help the company rather than how the company can help you.

The third paragraph is similar to the second. It should further describe how you are a good match for the company. Close it out with a show of appreciation for the hiring manager’s time and a desire for an interview.

Closing statement,

A well-done science cover letter can help you stand out in a competitive field of applicants, whether it’s for a full-time job, an internship, a fellowship, or a teaching position. Once you have that interview, get prepared by researching salaries for the position in the current market.

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How to Write a Good Cover Letter for a Research Position

Writing a cover letter can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

Some people believe cover letters are a science. Others seem to think they are more akin to black magic. Regardless of how you feel about cover letters, they are one of the most important parts of the job application process. Your resume or CV may get you an interview, but a good cover letter is what ensures that the hiring manager reads your resume in the first place.

Writing a cover letter for any job is important, but the art of writing a good cover letter for a research position can make or break your application. While writing a cover letter for a research position, you have to walk a fine line of proving your expertise and passion while limiting jargon and dense language.

In this post, we will explain cover letter writing basics, and then dive into how to write a research specific cover letter with examples of both good and bad practices.

hands typing on blank google doc

What Is A Cover Letter and Why Do Cover Letters Matter?

A cover letter is your opportunity to tell a story and connect the dots of your resume. Resumes and curriculum vitae (CVs) are often cold and static—they don’t show any sort of character that will give companies a hint about if you will fit in with their culture. 

Your cover letter gives you the chance to demonstrate that you are an interesting, qualified, and intelligent person. Without proving that you are worth the time to interview, a company or research organization will set your application in the rejection pile without giving it a second look. 

So, what is a cover letter, exactly? It is an explanation (written out in paragraph form) of what you can bring to the company that goes beyond the information in your resume. Cover letters give a company a glimpse into the qualities that will make you the ideal candidate for their opening. 

Note that a cover letter is not the same as a letter of intent. A cover letter is written for a specific job opening. For example, if I got an email saying that the University of Colorado was looking for a tenure track faculty member to teach GEO 1001, and I chose to apply, I would write a cover letter. 

A letter of intent, however, is written regardless of the job opening. It is intended to express an interest in working at a particular company or with a particular group. The goal of a letter of intent is to demonstrate your interest in the company (or whatever type of group you are appealing to) and illustrate that you are willing to work with them in whatever capacity they feel is best. 

For example, if I loved the clothing company, Patagonia and wanted to work there, I could write a letter of intent. They may have an opening for a sales floor associate, but after reading my application and letter of intent, decide I would be better suited to a design position. Or, they may not have any positions open at all, but choose to keep my resume on hand for the next time they do. 

Most organizations want a cover letter, not a letter of intent, so it is important to make sure your cover letter caters to the specifics of the job posting. A cover letter should also demonstrate why you want to work at the company, but it should be primarily focused on why you can do the job better than any of the other applicants.

How to Write a Good Cover Letter: The Basics 

Writing a cover letter isn’t hard. Writing a good cover letter, a cover letter that will encourage a hiring manager to look at your application and schedule an interview, is more difficult (but certainly not impossible). Below, we will go over each of the important parts of a cover letter: the salutation, introduction, body, and conclusion, as well as some other best practices.

How to Write a Good Cover Letter Salutation

Don’t start with “Dear Sir/Ma’am” (or any iteration of a vague greeting, including “to whom it may concern”). Avoiding vague greetings is the oldest trick in the book, but it still holds a lot of weight. Starting a cover letter with the above phrase is pretty much stamping “I didn’t bother to research this company at all because I am sending out a million generic cover letters” across your application. It doesn’t look good. 

The best practice is to do your research and use your connections to find a name. “Dear Joe McGlinchy” means a lot more than “Dear Hiring Manager.” LinkedIn is a great tool for this—you can look up the company, then look through the employees until you find someone that seems like they hire for the relevant department. 

The most important thing about the salutation is to address a real human. By selecting someone in the company, you’ve demonstrated that you’ve done some research and are actually interested in this company specifically. Generic greetings aren’t eye-catching and don’t do well.

How to Write a Good Cover Letter Introduction

Once you’ve addressed your cover letter to a real human being, you need a powerful introduction to prove that this cover letter is worth the time it will take to read. This means that you need a hook. 

Your first sentence needs to be a strong starter, something to encourage the hiring manager not only to continue reading the cover letter, but to look at your application as well. If you have a contact in the company, you should mention them in the first sentence. Something along the lines of “my friend, Amanda Rice (UX/UI manager), suggested I apply for the natural language processing expert position after we worked together on a highly successful independent project.” 

The example above uses a few techniques. The name drop is good, but that only works if you actually have a connection in the company. Beyond that, this example has two strengths. First, it states the name of the position. This is important because hiring managers can be hiring for several different positions at a time, and by immediately clarifying which position you are applying for, you make their job a little bit easier.  Next, this sentence introduces concrete skills that apply to the job. That is a good way to start because it begins leading into the body, where you will go into depth about how exactly your experience and skills make you perfect for the job. 

Another technique for a strong lead-in to a cover letter is to begin with an applicable personal experience or anecdote. This attracts more attention than stereotypical intros (like the example above), but you have to be careful to get to the point quickly. Give yourself one or two sentences to tell the story and prove your point before you dive into your skills and the main body of the cover letter.

A more standard technique for introductions is simply expressing excitement. No matter how you choose to start, you want to demonstrate that you are eager about the position, and there is no easier way to do that than just saying it. This could take the form of “When I saw the description for X job on LinkedIn, I was thrilled: it is the perfect job for my Y skills and Z experience.” This option is simple and to-the-point, which can be refreshing for time-crunched hiring managers. 

Since we’ve provided a few good examples, we will offer a bad example, so you can compare and contrast. Don’t write anything along the line of: “My name is John Doe, and I am writing to express my interest in the open position at your company.” 

There are a few issues here. First, they can probably figure out your name. You don’t need that to be in the first sentence (or any of the sentences—the closing is an obvious enough spot). Next, “the open position” and “your company” are too generic. That sounds like the same cover letter you sent to every single employer in a hundred mile radius. Give the specifics! Finally, try to start with a little more spice. Add in some personality, something to keep the hiring manager reading. If you bore them to death in the first line, they aren’t going to look over your resume and application with the attention they deserve. 

How to Write a Good Cover Letter Body

So, you’ve addressed a real human being, and you’ve snagged their attention with a killer opening line. What next? Well, you have to hold on to that attention by writing an engaging and informative cover letter body. 

The body of a cover letter is the core of the important information you want to transmit. The introduction’s job was to snag the attention of the hiring manager. The body’s job is to sell them on your skills.  There are a few formatting things to be aware of before we start talking about what content belongs in the body of the cover letter. First, keep the company culture and standards in mind when picking a format. For example, if I want to work for a tech startup that is known for its wit and company culture, I can probably get away with using a bulleted list or another informal format. However, if I am applying to a respected research institution, using a standard five paragraph format is best. 

In addition, the cover letter should not be longer than a page. Hiring managers are busy people. They may have hundreds of resumes to read, so they don’t need a three page essay per person. A full page is plenty, and many hiring managers report finding three hundred words or less to be the idea length. Just to put that into context, the text from here to the “How to Write a Good Cover Letter Body” header below is about perfect, length-wise. 

Now, on to the more important part: the content. A cover letter should work in tandem with a resume. If you have a list of job experiences on your resume, don’t list them again in the cover letter. Use the valuable space in the cover letter to give examples about how you have applied your skills and experience. 

For example, if I have worked as a barista, I wouldn’t just say “I have worked as a barista at Generic Cafe.” The hiring manager could learn that from my resume. Instead, I could say “Working as a barista at Generic Cafe taught me to operate under pressure without feeling flustered. Once…” I would go on to recount a short story that illustrated my ability to work well under pressure. It is important that the stories and details you choose to include are directly related to the specific job. Don’t ramble or add anything that isn’t obviously connected. Use the job description as a tool—if it mentions a certain skill a few times, make sure to include it!

If you can match the voice and tone of your cover letter to the voice of the company, that usually earns you extra points. If, in their communications, they use wit, feel free to include it in your letter as well. If they are dry, to the point, and serious, cracking jokes is not the best technique.

A Few Don’ts of Writing a Cover Letter Body   

There are a few simple “don’ts” in cover letter writing. Do not: 

The most important part of the cover letter is the body. Sell your skills by telling stories, but walk the razor’s edge between saying too much and not enough. When in doubt, lean towards not enough—it is better for the hiring manager to call you in for an interview to learn more than to bore them.

How to Write a Good Cover Letter Conclusion

 The last lines of a cover letter are extremely important. Until you can meet in-person for an interview, the conclusion of your cover letter will greatly affect the impression the hiring manager has of you. A good technique for concluding your cover letter is to summarize, in a sentence, what value you can bring to the company and why you are perfect for the position. Sum up the most important points from your cover letter in a short, concise manner. 

Write with confidence, but not arrogance. This can be a delicate balance. While some people have gotten away (and sometimes gotten a job) with remarks like, “I’ll be expecting the job offer soon,” most do not. Closing with a courteous statement that showcases your capability and skills is far more effective than arrogance. Try to avoid trite or generic statements in the closing sentence as well. This includes the template, “I am very excited to work for XYZ Company.” Give the hiring manager something to remember and close with what you can offer the company. 

The final step in any cover letter is to edit. Re-read your cover letter. Then, set it aside for a few hours (or days, time permitting) and read it again. Give it to a friend to read. Read it aloud. This may seem excessive, but there is nothing more off-putting than a spelling or grammar error in the first few lines of a cover letter. The hiring manager may power through and ignore it, but it will certainly taint their impression. 

Once the cover letter is as flawless and compelling as it can be, send it out! If you are super stuck on how to get started, working within a template may help. Microsoft Word has many free templates that are aesthetically appealing and can give you a hint to the length and content. A few good online options live here (free options are at the bottom—there is no reason to pay for a resume template).

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Research Position

Writing a cover letter for a research position is the same as writing any other cover letter. There are, however, a few considerations and additions that are worth pointing out. A job description may not directly ask for a cover letter, but it is good practice to send one unless they specifically say not to. This means that even if a cover letter isn’t mentioned, you should send one—it is best practice and gives you an opportunity to expand on your skills and research in a valuable way.

Format and Writing Style for a Research Position Cover Letter

Research and academics tend to appreciate formality more than start-ups or tech companies, so using the traditional five paragraph format is typically a good idea. The five paragraph format usually includes an introduction, three short examples of skills, and a concluding paragraph. This isn’t set in stone—if you’d rather write two paragraphs about the skills and experience you bring to the company, that is fine. 

Keep in mind that concise and to-the-point writing is extremely valuable in research. Anyone who has ever written a project proposal under 300 words knows that every term needs to add value. Proving that you are a skilled writer, starting in your cover letter, will earn you a lot of points. This means that cover letters in research and academia, though you may have more to say, should actually be shorter than others. Think of the hiring manager—they are plowing through a massive stack of verbose, technical, and complex cover letters and CVs. It is refreshing to find an easy to read, short cover letter. 

On the “easy to read” point, remember that the hiring manager may not be an expert in your field. Even if they are, you cannot assume that they have the exact same linguistic and educational background as you. For example, if you have dedicated the last five years of your life to studying a certain species of bacteria that lives on Red-Eyed Tree Frogs, all of those technical terms you have learned (and maybe even coined) have no place in your cover letter. Keep jargon to an absolute minimum. Consider using a tool like the Hemingway Editor to identify and eliminate jargon. While you want to reduce jargon, it is still important to prove that you’ve researched their research. Passion about the research topic is one of the most valuable attributes that a new hire can offer. 

Use your cover letter to prove that you have done your homework, know exactly what the institution or group is doing, and want to join them. If you have questions about the research or want to learn more, it isn’t a bad idea to get in touch with one of the researchers. You can often use LinkedIn or the group’s staff site to learn who is working on the project and reach out.

What Research Information Should be Included in a Cover Letter

A research position cover letter is not the place for your academic history, dissertation, or publications. While it may be tempting to go into detail about the amazing research you did for your thesis, that belongs in your CV. Details like this will make your cover letter too long. While these are valuable accomplishments, don’t include them unless there is something  that pertains to the group’s research, and your CV doesn’t cover it in depth. 

If you do choose to write about your research, write about concrete details and skills that aren’t in your CV. For example, if you have spent the last few years working on identifying the effects of a certain gene sequence in bird migration, include information about the lab techniques you used. Also, try to put emphasis on the aspects of your resume and CV that make you stand out from other candidates. It is likely that you will be competing with many similarly qualified candidates, so if you have a unique skill or experience, make sure it doesn’t get lost in the chaos—a cover letter is the perfect place to highlight these sorts of skills. 

Industry experience is a great differentiator. If you have relevant industry experience, make sure to include it in your cover letter because it will almost certainly set you apart. Another valuable differentiator is a deep and established research network. If you have been working on research teams for years and have deep connections with other scientists, don’t be afraid to include this information. This makes you a very valuable acquisition for the company because you come with an extensive network

Include Soft Skills in Your Cover Letter

Scientific skills aren’t the only consideration for hiring managers. Experience working with and leading teams is incredibly valuable in the research industry. Even if the job description doesn’t mention teamwork, add a story or description of a time you worked with (or, even better, lead) a successful team. Soft skills like management, customer service, writing, and clear communication are important in research positions. Highlight these abilities and experiences in your cover letter in addition to the hard skills and research-based information. 

If you are struggling to edit and polish your letter, give it to both someone within your field and someone who is completely unfamiliar with your research (or, at least, the technical side of it). Once both of those people say that the letter makes sense and is compelling, you should feel confident submitting it.

Cover letters are intended to give hiring managers information beyond what your resume and CV are able to display. Write with a natural but appropriately formal voice, do your research on the position, and cater to the job description. A good cover letter can go a long way to getting you an interview, and with these tips, your cover letters will certainly stand out of the pile.

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