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Postdoc Cover Letter Example

A postdoc, which is short for a postdoctoral position, allows a former student to expand their research base while also developing their skills and experience. You can apply for postdoc positions at the university you graduated from, where you might also be able to mentor students and handle grant writing. Here’s how to write a quality postdoc cover letter.

Postdoc Cover Letter Example

To write a great postdoc cover letter, you must stand out from your peers. Here’s an excellent postdoc cover letter sample.

Dear Professor Smith,

As a recent graduate of California University, I was honored to be part of a team that worked on research on cell biology. To my surprise and excitement, I found that the university had its own research project attempting to discover the relationships between many different types of cells. I am writing to express my profound interest in this research position.

When I was working as a graduate student, my research interests were always my best skills, and I consistently got A’s on every research project I was assigned to. I hope to become an assistant professor of science and biology in the future, so the ability to research and mentor students would be precious.

I am excited to follow up with you about this position and discuss the benefits I could bring as a principal investigator and starting researcher. Let me know when we can sit down and talk about this role.


Laura Duck

Although this is a very short postdoc cover letter, it’s a great starting point. Use it as a template and expand the letter a bit when you write your own.

Tips for Writing Your Postdoc Cover Letter Using This Example

Start by writing a header that includes your full name and contact information. Then, address the letter with the hiring manager or professor’s name. If you’re writing to a research committee, you can address it to that specific committee. This salutation makes the cover letter look personalized, so it doesn’t seem like you’re using a form cover letter. You can write a great letter with this three-paragraph cover letter format.

First paragraph: Introduce yourself with a hook and list your best achievements

Start by introducing yourself with a hook of some kind. In a postdoc application, you want to lead with the fact that you’ve just graduated from that school, as well as a few pieces of information showing off the skill you indicated in academia. This piece starts strong by indicating that the applicant is a recent university graduate and was excited to discover the project in question. This opening paragraph is intended to get a recruiter to read further, so it should be eye-catching.

Second paragraph: Give more information about how you’re the best fit for the job

Now that you know a faculty member is reading, you can explore more reasons why you’re the right person for this job. Talk about your current research, why you want this faculty position and how you can help graduate students while they benefit you. Here, the applicant mentions getting A’s on all research projects and has hopes of eventually becoming a professor. This means that this program would benefit both the university and the applicant. It’s common to mention both teaching and research experience in this paragraph, as a postdoctoral fellow often gets both types of expertise.

Third paragraph: Call to action

Finally, in the closing paragraph, restate the most prominent reasons you’re the right person for this postdoctoral research, then close with a call to action. This applicant specifically asks for a follow-up appointment, which would be similar to a job interview in a traditional cover letter.

FAQ: Postdoc Cover Letters

A cover letter is an important part of your typical job search and is equally as crucial for academic positions. Your cover letter clearly expresses an interest in this field, and passion can be as important as your curriculum vitae. It shows the research institute that you’ll put in the work and that you care enough to create an even better application. Use the ResumeNerd cover letter builder to ensure all elements of your cover letter, including the cover letter template, looks great.

Cover letters work best when they’re between half a page and three-quarters of a page long. This makes it easy for you to discuss all your important information without having the letter so long that the hiring manager doesn’t want to read the entire cover letter. Never make a cover letter longer than a page, as a professor is unlikely to read it.

Most people who have just left graduate school don’t have a lot of experience, and a postdoctoral cover letter is mainly written to request experience in the first place. This cover letter format works perfectly if you have minimal experience. You mostly need to show passion and knowledge, not existing experience.