It has been so hard to write a cover letter. So I actually went to the library and looked at some books. Books on "Business writing" and "Functional writing" exist at call number 808.0665X XXXX at the National Library in SIngapore. Here are some notes I got from skimming through some of these guides on how to write a cover letter - an important functional writing exercise that any academic must go through at some point. A dose of common sense, as evinced within these terrifying guide books, may prove useful even for the most skillful of writers.
Possible ways of organising the academic cover letter:
- Short self-intro; your current position; your MFA/Ph.D.-granting institution, your general field, subfield, and area of specialization.
- primary research project—what, where, and how, and which achievements arose from it,such as publications, conference papers, panels, and grants.
- primary research project’s large contributions to the field and discipline as a whole—how it pushes boundaries, engages in dynamic new debates, and enlarges the discipline.
- publication plans.
- second project.
- Your teaching, as it ties in with all of the above.
- Your specific interest in the job and department to which you are applying, with specific programs, specializations, and people mentioned by name.
- “I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you, [signature]”
- Think about how your interest in both the job and the organization developed—in order to stand out from the potentially long list of applicants, you will need to make a coherent argument for why it was a logical decision on your part to apply for the position, and why it would be a logical decision on their part to hire you. What kind of contribution will you make to their existing department? How will you fit in? Make sure you are writing for your target audience.
- No over sentimental weepy stuff. No unsubstantiated statements about passion and what not.
- Think of the CV as something you must aim to add to each month. Add a new line in each month. You have to build it up slowly.
- If your CV doesn't have it, it doesn't have it. THE CV IS NOT SPECULATIVE FICTION. If there are missing skills, then one has to get back to working until one has all the skills to do that dream job awesomely.
- Looking at the words used by other job calls, especially the jobs you might want to do in 5-10 years time can help guide your decision on what skills you must acquire and add to your CV so you can do that in the future.
- DON'T EXCEED 2 PAGES
- NO MUSHY OR EMOTIVE-WITHOUT-SUBSTANTIATION SENTENCES ALLOWED
- NO WEIRD FONTS
- The Ideal font size seems to be 11.5pt. 11pt and below is too small.