A job application is accompanied with a resume and cover letter. A cover letter gives you a chance of communicating to the prospective employer. All the applicants send in their resumes. These resumes are written in more or less a standard format. The degrees or qualifications for a particular job are also more or less similar. Thus, it is the cover letter that helps you get an edge over others, and get a preference for your resume. Also, the cover letters have to be customized as per the industry or field. A generalized letter will not fulfill the purpose. For example, there have to be different cover letters for different fields, like an academic cover letter of the educational field, business cover letter, management cover letter, etc.
In this section of resume cover letters, we will discuss the academic cover letters. While applying for a job in the academic sector, you will have to write an academic cover letter. This letter will give you a chance to present yourself as a dedicated teacher and researcher. However, for writing this you first need to understand the difference between an academic and a business cover letter.
An academic and a business cover letter have the same purpose but the way the two letters are written and the content of the two letters differ to a great extent. The academic letters tend to be long, as there has to be detailing about the research work and accomplishments in your career as a researcher and a teacher. The academic letter is thus 1 ½ to 2 pages long, and has around 5-8 paragraphs. Also, while writing academic letters, you need to know what type of institution you wish to get into and customize your letter accordingly. There is a difference in the goals and requirements of liberal art college and community college.
Now since you speak about being passionate for research and wish to put it forth, you must do a research about the institution in which you are applying. This research will serve as a strong base. You can impress the researcher by showing that you have done a thorough analysis and research before showing your interest in being a part of the institution. This will actually prove that you have the habit of researching before zeroing down on something.
Usually, the students study different subjects and then streamline their study and interest in certain field. They take up dissertations in this field, which helps them do a thorough study in that particular field. While applying for jobs, you need to make a reference of these dissertations and prove your relevance to that particular position. In your resume, you might mention it in the later part, thus your cover letter helps you put forth this information right in front of the employer. For example, if you have studied US national politics very well and taken up a dissertation in the same, you can apply for teaching US politics in schools or colleges.
The type of information and order of information in your letter also depends on the institution you are applying for. For example, while applying for a college for under graduation studies, you would put forth your teaching experience initially in the letter. While applying with universities and research based institutions, you need to initially speak about your research work and dissertations.
Also, speak about the major conferences you have been a part of in this letter itself. If you are still pursuing your Ph.D, or continuing with your dissertation, you must mention, by when you will complete it, number of chapters remaining, and a brief about it, to give the reader an idea about your work. If you have been part of any research, assisted someone in research while at school or college, mention it in your resume. Make sure that the person whose name you are quoting would reply affirmatively if asked about the same.
Thus, the basic of an academic cover letter is a thorough research about the type of institution and audience you wish to address. This will itself speak about your passion for research, and give an idea about the correctness of your analysis. Refer to some of the academic cover letter samples given in the links below to get a clear idea before writing an academic cover letter.