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How to write a cover letter for postdoc position application

need a template

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28 replies to this topic

#1 Curtis

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 12:04 AM

Hi all,

How would you write a cover letter for a post-doc job? I need a template.

I know there are million types of cover letters, but I'm not a native English speaker and my job applications have been turned down many times recently. I thought maybe it is my cover letter that makes people reject me.

I'm looking for jobs in Vancouver, but Ottawa also ok.

#2 casandra

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 07:38 PM

Hi all,

How would you write a cover letter for a post-doc job? I need a template.

I know there are million types cover letters, but I'm not a native English speaker and my job applications have been turned down many times recently. I thought maybe it is my cover letter that makes people reject me.

I'm looking for jobs in Vancouver, but Ottawa also ok.

Hi Curtis...I wonder how you could tailor your letter for post-doc positions in Vancouver ...."if you accept me in your lab, I promise to give my full support and watch every game of the Vancouver Canucks...and never to riot if they lose again in the Stanley Cup finals" :P

if you fashioned your letter based on the recommendations here: http://sciencecareer...ter_creation/#2
then I think it's already pretty good and it's not your cover letter which is the problem...or perhaps you'd want to post a sample of YOUR cover letter here and the members can make some recommendations on how to improve it?
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#3 Curtis

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 07:50 PM

lol...yeah, I will mention Stanley Cup.Posted Image

Thanks for the link, I have read that before.

Here's my cover letter to someone in UBC:

Dear Professor Sadowski,

I am a post-doc researcher in NUS University, Singapore.
I am looking for new opportunities and therefore, I was wondering if
your team needs any post-doc researcher to assist you in the projects.
I checked your recent papers and found that you study protein
interactions by yeast two-hybrid systems. I also work on protein
interactions although I usually go for co-IP.

Please find attached my CV. I would preferably like to work in UBC
because my family lives in Vancouver. I will be glad to give you more
info about me on request.

Sincerely,
Curtis Craig (PhD)
Post-doc researcher
address:....

#4 David C H

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 05:59 AM

Some thoughts:

I am a post-doctoral scientist at _____... working on .... (very brief statement on your field, such as "protein interactions")

I have been following the work of your team on ______... (use one or two sentences to list something specific - not a paper title - but the actual protein interactions or class of proteins).

I find this exciting because _____.... (one or two sentences or more; may mention the next step that could be taken to add to their research. Show that this is something your passionate about, interested in).

I am very interested in becoming a part of your team.... (Follow this with a statement on how your experience [in protein-protein interactions] would benefit their work; include other facets of your skillset that would be of beneifit to their lab.)

I don't think you need to mention that you want to live in Vancouver -- present yourself as wanting to work in this specific lab because of the work they are doing. Does the PI want to hire someone who wants to live in Vancouver or someone who is excited to work in their lab?

#5 Curtis

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 07:30 AM

Thanks David

#6 Curtis

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 06:30 PM

How does this sound?

Dear Dr. X,

I am a post-doctoral scientist at NUS University, Singapore, working on cell death and apoptotic proteins.

I have been following the work of your team on autophagy and its relation with apoptosis. It is very interesting that your are developing high throughput assays to screen libraries for autophagy inhibitors and activators. I have been working on apoptosis since 2003 and honestly, anything related to that interests me. I have been working on Bcl-2 and Bax for years now and recently discovered a protein-protein interaction with viral proteins that I published in Virology Journal.


I am very interested in becoming a part of your team and assist you in your work since I am very familiar with the proteins and mechanisms that you are working on. In case you need a scientist with all the necessary skills for your work I will be glad to give you more info about me, although I have attached my CV to this email too.

Edited by Curtis, 20 September 2011 - 06:31 PM.


#7 pito

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 02:37 AM

How does this sound?

Dear Dr. X,

I am a post-doctoral scientist at NUS University, Singapore, working on cell death and apoptotic proteins.

I have been following the work of your team on autophagy and its relation with apoptosis. It is very interesting that your are developing high throughput assays to screen libraries for autophagy inhibitors and activators. I have been working on apoptosis since 2003 and honestly, anything related to that interests me. I have been working on Bcl-2 and Bax for years now and recently discovered a protein-protein interaction with viral proteins that I published in Virology Journal.


I am very interested in becoming a part of your team and assist you in your work since I am very familiar with the proteins and mechanisms that you are working on. In case you need a scientist with all the necessary skills for your work I will be glad to give you more info about me, although I have attached my CV to this email too.


I agree with what David says. Your first attempt was a bit weird.
Esp. the family part: leave that out.
Alsom: you need to sell yourself and explain why you are the best for the job (esp since its an open solliciation, not directly for a open job/vacancy.

I dont like the part where you write: "It is very interesting that your are..", it sounds weird.
I would rather use something like: I am very intersted in your work on the development of high throughput assays to screens libraries ... And maybe add a little note why you think its important or what you see in it (whats the potential, future use).

If you use the I am , you refer to yourself and state that you are very intersted in it.. the "it is.." is more a general sentence, less personal..

But maybe this depends on your personal point of view. But I think that a lot of professors out there like a more personal point of view.. if you show them that you are really intersted in their work and why. .. it shows you are really up to date with their work and intersted in it...Rather then using a general term like It is intersting ...


But over all: sounds nice, but I would remove the "honestly part.. I would rewrite it.
You could say that you have been working on apoptosis and that you developed a keen interest in it. (or something like that).

Something like: I have been working on apoptosis since 2003 and developed a keen interest in this proces with particular interest/experience on Bcl-2 and Bax which led to a discovery of a protein protein interaction about which I published in virology (title maybe? or see CV or something to refer to the that paper)...

This is why I am very intersted in becoming part of your team and esp. your work on the proteins/mechanisms you are working on.
I feel I have the right skills/interest for this work and I am very eager to do more research on this.


I just find it weird to use a word like honestly in this kind of letters..

I would also change the last part: for your work I will be glad to give you more info about me, although I have attached my CV to this email too.

==> leave the altough, it sounds weird (and it seems like you are telling him that he can check your CV and that he doesnt have to bother you with other questions... , thats how I would read this.. its weird to tell: if you have questions ask them, but really, just check my CV and fuck off... I mean: thats how some people would read/interpret it.

I would rather say something like:
I have attached my CV and in case you have any questions that you have about me/my experience/work/papers and developments I would be glad to answer all your questions in detail



Also make sure that the person you are sending this letter is a Dr. (if he/she is a prof.. make sure to put Prof! Because (sadly enough) some people are very harsh on his if you dont call them prof when they are one).



These are just some personal notes.. maybe others have a completely different point of view...
Its always hard to imagine how the recipient is.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#8 Curtis

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 07:17 AM

wow Pito...thanks so much. you're very kind

#9 Curtis

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 07:32 PM

. its weird to tell: if you have questions ask them, but really, just check my CV and fuck off...


:))) I can't stop laughing

#10 Curtis

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 02:19 AM

I keep getting rejected. do you guys know of any post-doc vacancy in Vancouver area?

#11 pito

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 05:38 AM

I suppose you allready checked the universities in that area and all the spin off companies of those universities?

Have you also contacted your supervisor/promotor of you PhD? Maybe he knows some people/places?
Or the contacts you made during your PhD..? Maybe those people need help at their labs etc..

I dont know how it works in Canada, but here in Belgium a lot of the post docs arent even "open" (they dont even publish them). A lot of those post docs are just "given" to people they know.. (they either roll into it based on their PhD or because they know certain people... Remember that its a small world (at least if you stick to your area of expertise)).

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#12 Curtis

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 06:44 PM

Pito everything you said is totally true. I am aware many positions are not posted on the net, and I am also aware it's better to stick to one area and go ahead, or ask my own supervisor for help...but....I am already a post-doc under the same supervisor and I am scared of asking her for help, although I know she already got a lot of connections to put me in the US or Canada or anywhere else...

My area of expertise is apoptosis, the mitochondrial pathways and Bcl-2 proteins, and I do want to stick to those and carry on because I've been working on them for the past 7-8 years....but I'm married and my wife cannot cope with the city we are living right now, and I have no other choice but to leave! It is really difficult living in here...and we must leave!

I have not checked every university or institute in Vancouver area. I think I have posted less than 5 applications in British Columbia, the rest were for elswere in Canada, where our other relatives live.

My best connection was my external advisor who was also from Vancouver but is an associate prof at the University of South Carolina, USA. He could have helped me but recently he ran into some troubles that I do not want to bother him with e-mails and requests although he is already listed as referee in my CV.

When I asked him why he left Vancouver to work in the US he replied he can get more grant and money in the US than in Canada, and that Vancouver is a very expensive city....true...but I have to go there because of my wife, atleast for a while. I am also aware there are more oppurtunities in the US, but Canada is my priority.

I did my MSc in the UK, and it would be easier to find a job in UK, than Canada or US, but personally I think UK wouldn't have a bright future for me. I am now living in Kuala Lumpur, and I think it's enough living here, it's time to move.





I suppose you allready checked the universities in that area and all the spin off companies of those universities?

Have you also contacted your supervisor/promotor of you PhD? Maybe he knows some people/places?
Or the contacts you made during your PhD..? Maybe those people need help at their labs etc..

I dont know how it works in Canada, but here in Belgium a lot of the post docs arent even "open" (they dont even publish them). A lot of those post docs are just "given" to people they know.. (they either roll into it based on their PhD or because they know certain people... Remember that its a small world (at least if you stick to your area of expertise)).



#13 virusfan

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 03:04 AM

Pito everything you said is totally true. I am aware many positions are not posted on the net, and I am also aware it's better to stick to one area and go ahead, or ask my own supervisor for help...but....I am already a post-doc under the same supervisor and I am scared of asking her for help, although I know she already got a lot of connections to put me in the US or Canada or anywhere else...

My area of expertise is apoptosis, the mitochondrial pathways and Bcl-2 proteins, and I do want to stick to those and carry on because I've been working on them for the past 7-8 years....but I'm married and my wife cannot cope with the city we are living right now, and I have no other choice but to leave! It is really difficult living in here...and we must leave!

I have not checked every university or institute in Vancouver area. I think I have posted less than 5 applications in British Columbia, the rest were for elswere in Canada, where our other relatives live.

My best connection was my external advisor who was also from Vancouver but is an associate prof at the University of South Carolina, USA. He could have helped me but recently he ran into some troubles that I do not want to bother him with e-mails and requests although he is already listed as referee in my CV.

When I asked him why he left Vancouver to work in the US he replied he can get more grant and money in the US than in Canada, and that Vancouver is a very expensive city....true...but I have to go there because of my wife, atleast for a while. I am also aware there are more oppurtunities in the US, but Canada is my priority.

I did my MSc in the UK, and it would be easier to find a job in UK, than Canada or US, but personally I think UK wouldn't have a bright future for me. I am now living in Kuala Lumpur, and I think it's enough living here, it's time to move.






I suppose you allready checked the universities in that area and all the spin off companies of those universities?

Have you also contacted your supervisor/promotor of you PhD? Maybe he knows some people/places?
Or the contacts you made during your PhD..? Maybe those people need help at their labs etc..

I dont know how it works in Canada, but here in Belgium a lot of the post docs arent even "open" (they dont even publish them). A lot of those post docs are just "given" to people they know.. (they either roll into it based on their PhD or because they know certain people... Remember that its a small world (at least if you stick to your area of expertise)).


Hi. I am also experiencing lots of unsuccessful post doc application, worse than you, Curtis! I am finishing my PhD, and have been applying for post doc since February this year. So far, I have sent out about 25 application letters, but none of them return as positive outcome. I will keep applying, just because I am so stupidly, deeply falling in love with infectious diseases research. Perhaps chronicly addicted! Just wonder if there is any rehab centre for science addict! lol
Anyway, thank you very much for this post. I benefit a lot from this. :)
Another point is that, it is not easy to get a postdoc job in UK at this moment of time, especially for foreigner! I heard that they are going to change their employ visa thingy soon, or probably have changed already. Anyway, I don't really pay attention to this, as I don't intend to stay back for postdoc here. I have enough with UK. :)

#14 pito

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 09:37 AM

My best connection was my external advisor who was also from Vancouver but is an associate prof at the University of South Carolina, USA. He could have helped me but recently he ran into some troubles that I do not want to bother him with e-mails and requests although he is already listed as referee in my CV.

When I asked him why he left Vancouver to work in the US he replied he can get more grant and money in the US than in Canada, and that Vancouver is a very expensive city....true...but I have to go there because of my wife, atleast for a while. I am also aware there are more oppurtunities in the US, but Canada is my priority.

I did my MSc in the UK, and it would be easier to find a job in UK, than Canada or US, but personally I think UK wouldn't have a bright future for me. I am now living in Kuala Lumpur, and I think it's enough living here, it's time to move.


???

Sorry to say this but: ASK HIM!!!!!

Send him an email or even better: call him!!!

Listen, you have 7 years of post doc experience, by know you should now one of the golden rules in science: NETWORKING!
Be active!
Got a question, ask it!

The worst that could happen is that he tells you to piss off because he hasnt got the time.. but face it: he was your best connection (I am supposing you guys have a good relationship going one between you? Or is your best connection the only one you ever said "hi" too?)



And if this doesnt work: get in touch with the others you worked with, had discussions with.. 7 years of post doc experience! Hell, you should know all the people in your field!

Be active and being active is more then just sending email!

I know this sounds harsh.. but you need to grasp every change you have...

(Keep in mind that often/sometimes even "idiots" get good jobs because they know how to network or have a big mouth/dare to ask/do! You can be the best scientist out there.. if you dont have got the balls to dare stuff ... nobody will know you/care about you. Its sad that I have to say this, but often its better to have a "big mouth" (or be manupilative/play good friends with people) then being a great scientist....)


PS. is Vancouver your only option? Did you concider other countries too?

Edited by pito, 28 October 2011 - 10:36 AM.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#15 casandra

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 01:27 PM

It's bec he's got family over there, pito.... and I think he only recently finished his PhD (this year?) and has just started with his postdoc in the same lab (right, Curtis?)


@Curtis: I guess you've already tried going to the university websites to search for postdoc opportunities? It’s definitely more tough and highly competitive to get into UBC or even SFU…and Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities here in Canada so you probably have a better chance in Ontario where there are more universities/institutes to apply to and relatively cheaper to live in (except perhaps Toronto) compared with BC. And your ex-advisor is right, there are more grant opportunities in the US than here. Each year, research funding has been decreasing so it is more and more difficult for labs to hire personnel and especially international applicants. They’d rather get grad students instead. Besides, those who are already here (whether doing a PhD or the first postdoc) usually have the advantage…but that doesn’t mean that you shld stop searching….oftentimes persistence pays off and if you can ask people to introduce you or make connections for you, as pito has suggested, then just give it a try…
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