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Changing my cover letter to reflect my current job

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Changing my cover letter to reflect my current job

Postby James Tyler » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:37 am

I’ll just repeat what I said in another thread first to put things into context:
“I have a BS in microbiology. As an undergraduate, I was a research assistant in an academic lab for 6 months. After I finished undergrad, I attended a Ph.D. program for about 1.5 years and then dropped out without getting any degree. In grad school, I rotated in a bunch of labs and joined a lab very briefly. After I dropped out of grad school, about half a year later (in May 2012), I started working at a company as a research assistant, which is where I am now.”

I’m currently applying for new jobs (technician positions, like research associate etc.) since my current position will be over in December. I need to change my cover letter to reflect my current position and I just wanted some input on my cover letter.

Here is the relevant part of my cover letter:

“My strong background in research and lab skills are an effective match for your position. I have done research in different fields, including microbiology, immunology and cancer research. I have also been exposed to a wide variety of experimental techniques and have extensive experience in mammalian cell culture and mouse handling. I work well alone and as part of a team, efficiently multitask, and I have an exceptional attention to detail.

I graduated from University X, with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology in December 2009, where I worked as an undergraduate research assistant and gained valuable lab and research skills. I attended a Ph.D. program for a little over a year before deciding that I preferred the hands-on aspect of science and working at the bench. I then worked as a research assistant at Company X. I am now seeking a new opportunity that is focused on hands-on exposure to science, and I believe your position matches my goals.”

Does that sound good? Mainly the way I mention my current position? Any advice on how to change it? Also, should I say graduate school or Ph.D. program?

Thanks.
James Tyler
 
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Re: Changing my cover letter to reflect my current job

Postby PG » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:37 am

It needs to be adapted to the specific position that you are applying for. I dont recomend moving forward with generic cover letters. As I have stated in previous posts on the forum I usually start my screening process with the cover letter and it needs to be good.

Second, mentioning dropping out of the PhD program is sort of a red flag and at this point you dont have a good explanation for why you dropped out. A lot of PhDs are doing bench work. If you would move forward to the next step of the process the company will call references from your PhD studies. If you have additional red flags that may come up during that process you need to find a way of dealing with them.

If your current position is relevant for the position that you are applying for I would recomend starting with your current position and give some more detail on relevant methods, skills etc
PG
 
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Re: Changing my cover letter to reflect my current job

Postby James Tyler » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:02 pm

I don’t really have a choice but to mention that I attended grad school and dropped out (and give an explanation), especially since they’ll find out anyway. Rich also mentioned that I should include my grad school experience in my resume.

How would you recommend that I change it so that it’s less of a red flag? Should I not mention grad school in the cover letter and instead let them see it on the resume and bring it up in a phone interview? If so, how should I go about doing that? Just say that I worked as a research assistant at university XYZ (or say I did research at university XYZ)? Or would hiding it in the cover letter be a bad idea? I want them to be able to read the cover letter and want to move on to the resume.
James Tyler
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm

Re: Changing my cover letter to reflect my current job

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:42 pm

Welcome to the world of advice. Everyone is going to have a different opinion - you task is to understand the "why" behind those opinions so you can apply them to your situation.

Right now, your letter does little more than offer a bunch of unsupported generalities. You say, for example, that you're a good match for their position, but you don't show why this is true. Anyone can "talk the talk;" what you need to do is show them examples of where you've "walked the walk."

Also, modifying my previous remarks in consideration of PG's comments - you might consider something along the lines of "I have 'x' years of laboratory experience beyond my undergraduate studies in both academic and industrial settings, where I've ... ." This gets to what's important and does avoid bringing attention to the whole PhD thing - although you will need to be prepared to discuss that at some point (hopefully in a face-to-face interview).
Rich Lemert
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Re: Changing my cover letter to reflect my current job

Postby PG » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:09 am

I agree that you need to mention your PhD studies at least in your CV and you need a good explanation for it that hopefully is in agreement with what they will hear when they call your previous PhD supervisor. My only point was that the part with not doing a PhD due to the fact that you want to do bench work doesnt necessarily hold up. I also think that you want to mention it but not make a big thing of it ie keep your focus in the letter on why you are a good match for the specific position that you are applying to. What Rich says is completely true unsupported generalities doesnt work and you need to take this another step.

Finally I want to say that I have hired PhD dropouts before so it isnt necessarily a major issue.
PG
 
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