Writing a scientist cover letter (With tips and an example)
Updated 16 May 2023
A strong cover letter is an important tool when applying for jobs in science. There are strategies to employ when structuring and tailoring your letter to the specific job you're applying for. An effective cover letter can demonstrate to an employer that you're an ideal candidate for the job, making a good impression on them and motivating them to review your application further. In this article, we go over some strategies for writing your cover letter, discuss how you might structure the letter, and explore an example scientist cover letter.
Tips for writing a scientist cover letter
Here are a few tips for writing your scientist cover letter when applying for a job. The cover letter can be a valuable tool in making your application stand out, directly demonstrating your suitability for the job to the employer. When writing your cover letter, you may wish to consider the following:
1. Research the company
Your cover letter is most effective when it's tailored specifically to the company and the role you're applying for. Take a bit of time to research the company to achieve this. You can look at their company website, social media pages or any news articles about the company. Try to learn things about the company, including:
its mission and values and how they align with your own
its history and how it's changed over time
its recent activity
You can try and structure your cover letter in a way that shows how you personally match the company and the job. You might also look at the type of language the company uses on their website, in their communications and in the job advert. This may inform the tone of your cover letter.
2. Examine the job description
When tailoring an application for a specific role, the job description is a good tool to inform the basic outline of your application. Identify the skills and competencies they're looking for in successful applicants and be sure to highlight how you match them. This carries over into the cover letter of your application. Try to identify the two or three key things the company is looking for and make sure these are shown in your cover letter.
3. Keep your letter concise
The cover letter is supplementary to your application documentation or CV. It doesn't need to repeat everything you have already written elsewhere. If it's too long or detailed, this may actually harm your application. Keep your cover letter concise and to the point. You want it to capture and keep the attention of whoever is reading it, show that you match the desired competencies for the role, and give one or two reasons why you personally are a good fit for the position, encouraging the recruiter to read the rest of your application and consider you for the role.
4. Show some personality
Application documents can often be dry, merely outlining the qualifications and experience you have but not really giving much of a sense of you as a person. A cover letter can be a good opportunity to show a bit of personality. The language can remain professional, matching the tone of the job advertisement. Rather than simply listing your qualifications, you have the chance to demonstrate your ambition, drive and personal motivations for pursuing this job.
5. Proofread your cover letter
The cover letter is an opportunity to make a first impression on the employer and if your cover letter is full of spelling mistakes and grammar errors, this impression may be bad. Proofread your cover letter thoroughly before submitting it. Have friends, family and colleagues also check it if possible. Double-check you have included all the points from the job description you wished to highlight.
Structuring your cover letter
To be most effective, you want your cover letter to be well structured and have a good flow in order to communicate your strengths and competencies in a way that's professional and efficient. To achieve this, you may wish to consider the following structure:
Include your contact details
Before the body of your cover letter, include your name and contact details in the top right-hand corner of the letter, clearly stating the easiest ways for the employer to get in touch with you. You can include your mobile number, email address and possibly links to any profiles you may have on professional networking sites. You may also wish to include your home address.
Address the reader
You may wish to address the letter directly to the person who is reviewing applications and making a decision on who gets the job. This contact information may be in the job application. If it's not, you may wish to contact the company's HR department to find the appropriate person to address the cover letter to. Failing that, a polite, general salutation such as 'To whom it may concern' or 'Good afternoon' may be most appropriate.
Use this opening paragraph to clearly state your intention in applying for the job, specifically referencing the job title or job reference as advertised by the employer if possible. You can potentially also say where you saw the job advertised. Give a general outline of why you're applying for the position and what makes you ideally suited to the role, possibly highlighting one or two key achievements or strengths that demonstrate your suitability.
Use this second paragraph to go into a little more detail regarding your qualifications and experience, linking them back to specific desirable qualities the employer has outlined in the job description. This paragraph is an opportunity to impress the employer and demonstrate your strengths that specifically relate to the position, motivating the employer to strongly consider you for the role and review your application and CV in more detail.
This is another opportunity to make practical use of the company research you've conducted. Relate your personal experiences to the organisation's mission, current work or the specific duties you would perform in the job to which you have applied. This could be a good opportunity to highlight your most recent working experience, demonstrating and evidencing that the skills you already use professionally are directly relevant and valuable for the job you're applying for.
Paragraph 4 and closing
Summarise in broad terms your reasons for applying and why you believe you're a strong candidate. This may be a good chance to mention your personal motivations for pursuing this particular job opportunity at this stage in your professional journey. You can also be positive and proactive in your closing, including a call to action on the employer to contact you as you're hoping to progress through the application process, eventually securing an interview. Finally, show gratitude and be polite and courteous as you sign off with a complimentary close.
Related: How to end a cover letter
Example scientist cover letter
Here is an example of a possible cover letter you may write when applying for a job as a scientist:
01234 567 890
2nd November 2021
To whom it may concern,
I write this letter in support of my application for your Scientist position, as advertised on your company website. I am a rational, analytical and committed individual: all skills honed through my training and previous work experience. I am qualified to master's level as a biomedical scientist with more than 6 years of professional experience and want to use my skills to help those worst affected by the diseases the world faces today. This is the mission of the Tropical Institute and the main reason I am so motivated to apply for this position.
My academic training focused on the biology and control of diseases, with a particular focus on disease transmission. Completion of both my undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations involved real-life modelling of disease outbreaks, along with devising control methods. Following my master's graduation, I also completed a volunteer internship overseas working on implementing disease control interventions. Indeed, part of this internship saw me working alongside professionals from the Tropical Institute.
For the past three years, I have worked with the local government analysing scientific data on the endemic health concerns of the area, using this data to help create community interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of local residents. This has been a hugely rewarding project – and was also highly successful. The most recent data trends show that our work has reduced the need for GP intervention by roughly 40%.
I am very keen to take the skills I have learned and honed and apply them in the area about which I am most passionate: helping to improve the lives of those in some of the most resource-deprived areas of the world. This is why I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to join the Tropical Institute family at a time in my professional life when I feel I am fully ready and equipped to take this next step in my development and become a valuable member of your organisation.
If you require anything further from me at this stage of the application process, please let me know.
The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.
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