𝟏. 𝐀𝐝𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐫: Whenever you see a PhD position ad, it also mentions the point of contact. For example, the name of the professor in case of a PhD/postdoc position. Specifically, address this person e.g., Dear Prof. Peter.
𝟐. 𝐒𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐫’𝐬 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐠𝐞: Since you are writing it to a specific person, speak in his/her language. This means using the terms, that professor already knows e.g., keywords from his/her research. You should also make use of the key terms mentioned in the advertisement. This will make your letter resonate with the professor. For instance, it is quite likely that I’ll read a letter that mentions the terms cyber security, data science, and software engineering.
𝟑. 𝐐𝐮𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐢𝐭: Everything makes more sense when it’s in numbers. Therefore, quantify wherever possible. Moreover, focus on the outcome instead of the process. For example, instead of saying that I have research experience in data science, you should say my 2-year experience working in data science has resulted in 3 research papers.
𝟒. 𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝: Ask yourself this question why would someone read 500 words letter? What will compel him/her to read this whole letter? Give a smooth and soft flow to your letter. Help the reader to easily go from one sentence to another.
𝟓. 𝐊𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐠𝐞: People are mostly quite busy. They don’t have time to read lengthy letters nor do they have time to read very complex writing. Keep it to one page and write in simple straight language. Do not use a sentence longer than 2 lines.
𝟔. 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐮𝐩𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐭: Why you are writing this letter? Mention the purpose right away. ‘I am writing to express my interest in the Ph.D. position available at your research lab’ is a decent line to start with.
𝟕. 𝐃𝐨 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐫 𝐛𝐥𝐚𝐦𝐞: Keep your letter very positive. Do not complain or blame anyone or anything. Mention how your skill and experience fit the advertised position. Do not mention that you deserve the position because something bad happened or that you were at some disadvantage in the past.
𝟖. 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫: Make sure your letter is free from typos and grammar errors. You can easily remove such errors using online software tools such as Grammarly.
𝟗. 𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐩𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐞: Your resume is only about you. A cover letter is where you link your profile with that of the advertised position. This way it’s both about you and the advertised position. Focus on demonstrating this link instead of only focusing on your profile.
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