Professional Development

Workshop: Writing the Personal Statement or Cover Letter

In today’s Focus Friday, we’ll work on cover letters and/or personal statements. You’ll have time to work on and share drafts. We hope you’ll join Dr. Busl and I, and bring something to work on during out workshop time!

Academic Job Search Resources:
What should you discuss in an academic cover letter?

Here’s the template Dr. Powell taught me to use to structure a cover letter for an academic job search. She said your letter should provide a narrative that provides reader with:

  • a profile of research (a paragraph)
  • a clear sense of your research trajectory (a paragraph)
  • an understanding of your teaching & mentoring (1-2 paragraphs)
  • an understanding of your administrative & other service experience (a paragraph)

The order these paragraphs come in will depend to some extent on the type of university/the nature of the program you are applying to. And the more you can customize your basic job letter for each job, the better off you will be.

Searching for Alt-AC Jobs:
Remember: Your major has taught you skills that ARE useful in fields other than teaching.

Think outside the box and figure out how to sell yourself! What have you learned? What industries need those skills? (Chances are they are already looking for you–or should be!)

Personal Statements:
 Job Listings:



2 thoughts on “Workshop: Writing the Personal Statement or Cover Letter”

  1. Read ads carefully. Brainstorm everything you’ve done that could possibly relate. Do your research about the place you are applying to. Tailor materials to the mission and needs of the exact program applied for (in terms of what you say in the letter, what order paragraphs come in, what kinds of supplemental materials you submit.) Pull keywords from their materials and use them in yours. Be exact and direct in stating how you fit, and don’t be shy in selling yourself! When speaking of your research, be confident–use language with agency (not “I hope to”). Use concrete, actionable verbs. Don’t hedge. Remember: a cover letter is an argument–I’m the best for this job because.

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