Scientific Cover Letter Uk

by Amber Rolfe

Behind every CV is a good cover letter…

A cover letter is an essential part of almost every job application. Not only do you have to make sure it sells your skills and abilities to recruiters, you also need to do it a clear and concise manner – that ultimately persuades the reader to want to meet you.

We’ve already covered what a cover letter is, but here’s our step-by-step guide to help you get started on writing one:


Do your research

First things first, you need to do your research.

Take some time to look into the role you’re applying for and the company – and use this information to tailor your cover letter accordingly.

Here are a few key things you should find out before you start writing:

  • What does the company do?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • Who are their target audience?
  • What does the role involve?
  • What are the essential skills?

Once you’ve found answers to these questions, you’ll be able to make it clear in your cover letter how your skills and abilities match up with what the employer is looking for.

Not only will doing research give you the knowledge you need to tailor your cover letter and CV to the style of the company, it also demonstrates that you’ve got a real interest in the specific role and company.

Cover letter help


How to format a cover letter

Your cover letter should be well-presented, concise, and to-the-point.

So use an easy-to-read font, and don’t get carried away with embellishments. No pictures, no Comic Sans, and definitely no word art necessary.

Aside from ensuring its written using clear paragraphs – it also should be the right length. Too long, and you’ll risk rambling (and/or boring the recruiter); but too short, and you’re unlikely to have covered everything.

Aim for half a side of A4 (or one page maximum), and you’ll be on the right track.

Five things you need to stop doing on your cover letter


How to address a cover letter

Cover letters should be addressed to the person dealing with the applications.

Usually, this will be shown somewhere in the job advert – and if not, don’t be afraid to find out. Start by visiting the company’s website to track down the name of a relevant recipient, and if you have no luck there – there’s no harm in simply calling and asking.

Not only will you be able to address your letter accurately, you’ll also demonstrate your initiative and genuine interest in the role.

If you manage to find a name – address with ‘Dear Mr Smith/Dear Ms Jones’.

And if you don’t? ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ will suffice.


How to structure a cover letter

Although there are no set rules on how your cover letter should be structured, making sure it flows well is vital if you want to impress recruiters.

Here’s a rough guideline of how your cover letter should look:


Opening the letter – Why are you getting in touch?

The opening paragraph should be short and to the point, explaining why you’re getting in touch. It’s also useful to include where you found the ad i.e. as advertised on If someone referred you, mention their name in this section.

Example: I wish to apply for the role of IT Manager, currently being advertised on Please find enclosed my CV for your consideration.


Second paragraph – Why are you suitable for the job?

Briefly describe your professional and academic qualifications that are relevant to the role and ensure you refer to each of the skills listed in the job description.

Example:As you can see from my attached CV, I have over three years’ experience in the IT Industry, and I believe the knowledge and skills built up during this time make me the perfect candidate for the role.

Third paragraph – What can you do for the company?

Now’s your opportunity to emphasise what you can do for the company. Outline your career goals (making it relevant to the position you’re applying for) and expand on pertinent points in your CV – including examples to back up your skills.

Example: In my current role as Senior Marketing Executive at Software Company X Ltd, I have been responsible for increasing incoming client enquiries for our B2B product lines by 156% in under 12 months, which helped the business increase its revenue by 55% year-on-year.

Fourth paragraph – Reiterate

Here’s where you reiterate your interest in the role and why you would be the right fit for the role. It’s also a good time to indicate you’d like to meet with the employer for an interview.

I am confident that I can bring this level of success with me to your company and help IT Company LTD build upon their reputation as one the UK’s fastest-growing software houses. With my previous experience and expertise, I believe I can start actively contributing to the business as soon as possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.

Closing the letter

Sign off your cover letter with ‘Yours sincerely’ (if you know the name of the hiring manager), or ‘Yours faithfully’ (if you don’t), followed by your name.

How to: Overcome common cover letter problems


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It’s also important to understand what will and won’t be acceptable to the organisation you’re hoping to join. Faced with a big pile of applications, an employer is looking for reasons to put most of them in the bin. If your application varies from the expected format or is difficult for the potential employer to understand you are giving them a reason to discard it - and all before they’ve had a chance to see that you’re perfect for the job!

Online advice on academic cover letters can be conflicting due to different expectations between disciplines and especially between countries: some examples are length of the letter, what it should include versus the CV/resume and type of supplementary documents to attach.

Getting your letter right

Other things to consider

Cultural differences - a few examples

Articles about academic cover letters or applications

Templates and examples

Will anyone read my cover letter?

Getting your letter right

There are some things everyone seems to agree on and which are not specific to applications for academic positions. Key points include:

  • The main purposes of your letter are to convey your enthusiasm, to make it clear why you’re a good fit for the position and why you want to work in that department or research group
  • Tailor your letter to the position and employer. If you use the same letter for all applications it will probably be obvious, could give the appearance that you are not as keen as other candidates and is likely to be detrimental to your application.  Remember that your covering letter might be the first thing that a potential employer reads
  • Try to address your letter to a specific individual. Do a bit of digging if you don’t already know who the appropriate person is
  • Rather than simply making assertions, give evidence to illustrate your strengths and your fit for the role
  • Don’t repeat what can easily be seen on your CV/resume
  • Get the tone right. Apart from being professional, the right tone can vary by culture so if you’re applying outside your home nation or your comfort zone, do some research. For example, what passes for a confident tone in one culture might appear to be arrogance in another
  • Make sure you use correct spelling and grammar and have made no mistakes.

Other things to consider

  • If the application is by online form, send a cover letter in addition unless this is specifically prohibited. If the entire application must be submitted via the online form, look for ways to incorporate what you would otherwise include in a cover letter
  • When sending your application by email, make sure that the titles of your email and of each attachment include your name and the title or reference for the position. Make it easy for your potential employer – they shouldn’t have to open your cover letter just to check who it’s from
  • Your email might be forwarded directly to the person who’s making decisions about applications so make sure that the email itself is clear and professional. It’s also important to consider your email address, for example if you are currently using don’t even think of using it – set up a new address with a more professional feel such as
  • Unless you possess a good knowledge of a national language for the country you’re applying to, write in English which is a working language in academia in many countries. In cases where English might not be widely spoken you could send both English and translated versions of your cover letter and other documents
  • If you have a professional website, you could direct a potential employer to it for additional information about you, if it's relevant to the position.

Cultural differences – a few examples

Consider what your potential employer will expect from an application to ensure that you stand out in the right ways, not the wrong ways! If you’re not completely familiar with the culture and customs of the country or situation you’re applying to, seek specific advice. Universities, professional bodies and national careers services might offer information. There may be international expertise in your current institution’s advisory services or in your personal network but consider whether potential advisors also have specific knowledge of academic expectations.

Here are just a few examples of different expectations that might affect how you write your cover letter or put together your application as a whole:

  • If you are applying for a position in China, remember that Chinese names are written surname first. Also, in Chinese culture humility is appreciated far more than arrogance. Language that may not seem arrogant in Western culture may appear so in China
  • For many countries, in addition to a cover letter, CV/resume, statement of academic research interests and application form it’s usual to include a professional photograph. If it’s not usual, don’t include one. In other countries, including Germany, copies of educational certificates and written references may also be expected
  • UK advice may positively encourage you to contact a potential employer - to discuss the position and the sort of person they’re looking for - as part of your research on the role. Taking the initiative, showing an interest and drawing yourself to their attention is seen as complementary to your written application. If you’re applying to a university or institute in the USA, while asking for basic information may be acceptable appearing to promote yourself outside of the defined application process can be frowned upon
  • Be aware of variations in academic qualifications and job titles between countries and that some explanation from you may be necessary. For example Lecturer (level B) in Australia is equivalent to Assistant Professor in North American universities. If you are from France and have the Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches qualification, this might need further explanation if you are applying to work in a country where no similar qualification exists, such as the UK.

Articles about academic cover letters or applications

Templates and examples

Will anyone read my cover letter?

It’s impossible to say and probably in some cases no. However, in lots of cases your letter will be read or even prioritised so deciding not to bother is simply not worth it. If you do, that’s just the impression you could give – that you couldn’t be bothered.


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