Letter of Interest in Academic Medicine: Tips to Follow

By Joyce De Leo, Ph.D. and Kerry Quealy

In an executive search in the field of academic medicine, a letter of interest or cover letter introduces you to the search committee and demonstrates how your academic background fits with the description of the position. You should aim to capture the committee’s attention and imagination and reinforce those aspects of your candidacy that will set you apart from others. We recommend a careful review of the leadership profile to help you formulate your letter.

This letter of interest or cover letter should be two to three pages maximum, and should include your signature. Above all, a strong cover letter presents your accomplishments and your familiarity with the institution and with the position.

What to Include

The way you structure the letter is up to you. One strategy is to use the goals and objectives in the leadership profile as an outline. You may address how you will meet each goal and objective at a high level based on your expertise and previous experience.

However you organize it, the letter should do the following:

  1. Express your interest in the job. Include details on your specific interest in and the opportunity there—some ideas to think about:
    1. What excites you about this job?
    2. What faculty would you like to collaborate with and why?
    3. Are there any partnerships in the university or outside of it that you wish to participate in?
    4. In what areas will you be able to contribute?
    5. Why would you make an excellent addition to the faculty at this institution?
  1. Provide a brief synopsis of your leadership style and accomplishments as they relate to the clinical, research and teaching missions. This is often an area that is difficult to discern from an individual’s CV.
    1. Be sure to emphasize all three, and place extra weight on any aspect that you know takes priority at the institution where you are applying.
    2. Include aspects of leading your team that have furthered their accomplishments in addition to your own.
  1. Summarize your past experiences and achievements to illustrate your competence for the job.
    1. Highlight any grants and funding you have received to undertake your research activities.
    2. Incorporate any awards or recognition which you have received for your teaching or research activities.
    3. Devote some text to other contributions to the academic communities where you have worked, such as committee work, advising, and collaborations with other departments.

While the letter is all about you, tailor it to the institution and job to which you are applying. Demonstrate you have done your homework about the position, the program and its employees, and show that your values and interests mesh well with those of this potential future employer.