Guide: How To Write An Assistant Professor Cover Letter

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An assistant professor assists professors, teaches, conducts research and guides graduates in their studies and research fields. When they apply for a job in a college or a university, they typically create a cover letter to introduce themselves to a hiring manager or a senior academician and submit it along with their resume. If you are looking for a job as an assistant professor, knowing how to write a formal and impressive cover letter can benefit you. In this article, we discuss the different steps involved in writing an assistant professor cover letter with a few tips.

How To Write An Assistant Professor Cover Letter

If you are applying for the role of an assistant professor, it is important to spend some time learning how to write an assistant professor cover letter. Your cover letter can be a one, two or three-page document. The ideal length for a cover letter is two to three pages. It is a professional document where you introduce yourself and mention your qualifications, achievements and skills. You can also use it to explain any gaps that may be present in your resume. You can tailor a cover letter to match the job description and the institution's orientation.

Once you highlight your professional achievements, you can also explain your interests and outline why an academic role can be an ideal career opportunity for you. Academic roles often require professionals to engage in extensive writing and your cover letter can be proof of your writing skills. A department head or a dean who reads your cover letter may get an idea about your suitability and enthusiasm for the role. Follow these steps to write an assistant professor cover letter:

1. Define the elements of your cover letter

Before writing a cover letter, it is important to know the components of a professional cover letter. Prepare a cover letter in the format the university requests. They may ask you to submit your application online, by email or by post. Once you know the components, you can gather information and material for each element. The elements of an academic cover letter typically include:

  • Header

  • Salutation

  • Introduction

  • Qualifications and professional achievements

  • Values and goals

  • Call to action

  • Signature

2. Create a header

A header contains your contact information with your name, email, phone number and address. If you have a professional website or a professional social media profile relevant to the assistant professor's role, you can include that in the header. Only use formal fonts like Times New Roman, Cambria, Calibri and Verdana. A font size of 12 pt is ideal. You can use the same font and size for the rest of the cover letter. Avoid using bold letters frequently. Use italics to quote your dissertation papers, doctoral thesis or any other publication relevant to the job role.

3. Include a salutation

Using the appropriate salutation demonstrates your professionalism and the effort you may have taken in researching the role. Look for a name or a designation in the job posting and address the cover letter to them. Typically a search committee, college principal or head of the relevant department may conduct an initial review of applications. You can research and identify the name of the person who holds the designation. An ideal salutation is Dear Sir or Dear Prof. [Name]. If they hold doctoral qualifications, ensure that you use Dr. in your salutation. Examples of salutations are:

  • Dear Dr. Shrivatsava,

  • Dear. Prof. Chaturvedi,

  • Dear Ms. Jones,

  • Dear Members of the Hiring Committee,

Related: Salutation Examples For Professional Letters And Emails

4. Introduce yourself in the opening paragraph

Introduce yourself by referring to the position you are applying for and the source of the posting. Explain why this assistant professor's role interests you. Include one statement with reasons for your application and why you think you are an excellent fit. The introductory paragraph can be brief and no more than four or five sentences.

Related: How To Write About Yourself (With Tips And Examples)

5. Include details of your professional qualifications and achievements

Read the job posting carefully to understand the academic requirements and skills the institution is looking for. You can also research the college, department and its faculty. Identify the most commonly occurring skills and highlight them and your doctoral, master's and bachelor's degrees. Highlight why you chose a particular major and explain why you are passionate about it. If you have previous teaching experiences, emphasise those experiences and mention a few important duties and responsibilities that match each job posting. If you are currently studying or working, indicate when you can take up the role if selected.

Highlight any merit scholarships or grants that you have won. Mention any academic awards and recognitions you have won at school, college or university levels. Include your contribution to college advisory committees, clubs or volunteering activities. If you have been part of a student exchange program, you can include it in this section. If you have a previous connection with the institution, you can highlight it here. You can also highlight your personality traits like friendly approach, research-oriented or passionate about teaching, making you an ideal candidate for a teaching position. This section can run into two or three paragraphs.

Related: How To Include Accomplishments On Your Resume

6. Add information on shared values and goals

Academic institutions place a lot of importance on their mission, goals and motto. Research the institution's goals and motto. You can mention the goal and explain how those values matter to you and how you plan to incorporate them into your teaching career. You can use words like "assure", "strive" or "mutual benefit" to emphasise that you and the institute can benefit from your contribution. In this section, ensure that you use phrases that demonstrate enthusiasm, optimism and a shared vision. This section can have one paragraph or more if you have enough material to add.

7. Add a call to action

In this section, you can thank the selection committee for taking the time to review your application. Indicate that you are keen on taking this forward and are available for further discussions. If you are working, you can indicate the best time that they can reach you. You can indicate your availability for an initial screening through telephone or teleconferencing. Ensure that the header has the contact information you mention in this section. For example, if you mention that you are available for a discussion through a teleconferencing platform, you can add your username in the header section.

8. Signature

Always end with a professional closing using phrases like Sincerely, or With kind regards,. If you submit your application through post, affix your full signature with blue ink. Avoid using initials and use only your full signature. Add your full name under your signature.

9. Proofread

Before printing a cover letter for posting or submitting it online, proofread it more than once. You can use online spell-checking or grammar tools to ensure that there are no spelling or grammar errors in your cover letter. You can also ask friends or family to read the cover letter once to check if the tone and language are ideal for an assistant professor's role.

10. Submit the application

Organise your cover letter, resume and documentary evidence that the institute requires you to submit along with the application. If you submit your application online, convert the documents to a compatible format. If the institute asks for a photograph with a specific dimension or resolution, convert your picture accordingly and submit it. Ensure that you receive confirmation messages through email or text and save it for future reference. Remember your username and password to track the status of your application online.

Tips For Writing An Assistant Professor Cover Letter

When you write a cover letter, put yourself in the position of the reader and note down what you would like to hear from an applicant. Researching the post and talking to faculty in your network of academicians is crucial to understanding what the institute expects from an assistant professor. Understand the difference between a cover letter and a resume. A resume states facts about your qualification and experience, while a cover letter describes how you see yourself. While you can write a cover letter using a persuasive tone, you can only add true and verifiable facts to a resume.

Include relevant information from your qualifications and career that matches the job posting. Compose sentences that highlight the skills and credentials you find in the job posting. Your tone can be upbeat but ensure that it does not exaggerate your academic achievements and qualifications. Use words that can resonate with seniors and peers in the academic field. Avoid lists as much as possible and use sentences to describe your achievements.

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