It seems unfair but, after years of hard work slaving over the books and suffering through lectures, labs and exams, the new grad then has the onerous task of finding a job so that s/he can join the workforce. This can be an especially discouraging endeavour if the job market is highly competitive in your chosen field. Since nobody gets a job without an interview, and most potential employers decide who to interview based solely on the résumés and cover letters they receive, it pays to do a really super job on both of these documents. My experience has always been that everyone thinks that their résumé and cover letter are both already awesome (and it’s usually not). Nobody ever seems to think that a weak resume or cover letter could be the reason why they’re not getting calls and interviews. However, chances are, that is at least part of the problem. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve noticed recently that a lot of people make their way to this site while searching for advice on how to write to a potential PhD supervisor. I’ve also noticed that many of the letters/emails that I personally get on this topic are actually irrelevant to me, poorly written, or both. So, I figured it might be a good idea to put a little bit of advice out there to help students who are trying to get into a PhD (or Masters) program. All the same principles also apply for those seeking post-doc supervisors.
(Note – you might also want to check out my related post of tips for preparing your resume.)
I often get asked to provide advice and feedback for engineering students (BSc, MSc and PhD) applying for jobs and though the application contents can vary widely, especially between industry and academia, one thing that all employers have in common is the requirement for a cover letter. It’s probably the most important part of the application package, yet it seems to be the part most people do poorly. In this post, I’ll try to help you out by presenting some of the tips I generally suggest to my own students based on: a) what I’ve learned from others, b) what has worked for me when I’ve applied for jobs, and c) what I like to see when I am looking to hire someone. Read the rest of this entry »