Academic Cover Letters for Non-Academics

by Allison Harvard

Steve Joy of Guardian Professional has prepped 10 cover letter tips for the budding academic.  And while these procedures are clearly addressed towards educators, who says you can’t apply it to your own cover letter writing?

But before turning head on to the task, it would be necessary to tackle what it is for you.  Will adopting the academic’s approach actually make a difference in your own cover letter?  Apparently, yes.  Despite its specifics, which were largely tailored towards the academic, its core points happen to be applicable for non-academics.

Want more proof?  See the adoption below.

The Five Tips: Adopted

Out of the ten tips, this transcribing session only sticks with five.

1)  Start with a clear identity

The first tip emphasised an essential reminder: you.  Yes, you are the critical part of this writing process.  Your information will have to be sifted and organised.  But there’s a chance that you’re likely to write stuff that don’t necessarily tell a strong story about you.

Steve implores that you avoid this risk by answering these key questions:

(a)  What is your current job and affiliation?

(b)  What’s your research field and what’s your main contribution to it?

For non-academics: focus on your field of specialisation.

(c)  What makes you most suitable for this post?


2)  Evidence, evidence, evidence; and

3)   It’s not an encyclopaedia

These tips, which were merged into one, tries to proffer a grand solution to market yourself without sounding pompous: offer evidence in moderation.

Okay, how does Steve suggest you to do it?  His key point is to choose which among your credentials merit the mention.  In other words, prioritise the best credentials over the good-enough ones.

4)  Think holistically

The fourth tip is all about trying not to be repetitive.  Give you prospective employer a little bit of everything that you have.  This makes for a better-rounded piece and should not fail to show your diversity in skills and knowhow.

5)  Two sides are more than enough

Stick with the standard one-page cover letter.  That’s why you need to do a lot of choosing, prioritising and detail-cutting – because you’re aiming for one-page.  This is not solely for your benefit; it’s also for your reader (you don’t want them to snooze over your cover letter).

Now, there is Steve Joy’s first five tips, all tweaked a bit to hit the mark for the non-academic applicants.  Read his complete cover letter writing tips, and see which ones you could actually use for your own piece.

About the Author

Allison Harvard works for Prospect Solution as a Public Relations Manager . Prospect Solution provides freelance writing job opportunities    for academic writers and professionals who wish to earn well while still maintaining their work-life balance.