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Research Assistant Cover Letter Example

An effective research assistant cover letter could help you land your next interview. You know your way around the world of statistics, but do you have a way with words? Let us help you craft the ideal letter for a hiring manager.
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Research Assistant Cover Letter Example
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Want to dip your toes into the wonderful world of research? Before you can get started, you will need a research assistant cover letter that wows hiring managers. This sector is vastly interesting but also highly competitive. Chances are, you’ve taken your first step out of academia and you’re ready for your next big challenge. So, where should you start?

Resume.io can help you level up your job search. We have put together a whole bunch of CV-building tools, cover letter examples, and writing guides to give you a fighting chance. Since you will be up against hundreds of recent graduates and workers, you need to give yourself a competitive edge. Within this cover letter writing guide — and expertly-written cover letter example — you can expect to learn the following: 

  • How to choose the best cover letter structure and what paragraphs to include
  • How to maximise the effectiveness of each cover letter paragraph
  • What approach and tone to take when writing your cover letter
  • The core mistakes you should avoid when writing your cover letter
Statistical insight

Most research assistant job postings are in the scientific or accounting and finance sector, according to statistics from Adzuna. Before you start searching for your perfect role, it pays to pick a niche. Choose an area of research in which you have specialist knowledge or prior experience to give yourself the best chance of career success. 

Best format for a research assistant cover letter

Structure is everything. As a research assistant, you will already be comfortable following strict rules and guidelines. When writing your cover letter, the same ethos applies. You don’t want to go free-flow. Here are the core elements you need to include in this letter: 

  • Cover letter header
  • Greeting (also called the salutation)
  • Cover letter introduction
  • Middle paragraphs (body of the letter)
  • The closing paragraph of your cover letter (conclusion and call-to-action)

Chances are, you have a load of things you want to tell the hiring manager. Going into this without a proper structure won’t do you any favours. Rather than taking a free-form approach, you should use the above elements to format your cover letter. As you can see from our expert cover letter sample, this strategy allows you to clearly outline your worth. 

It doesn’t end there. You can dive deeper into this subject matter within our extensive guide to cover letter writing. When you’re putting together a research assistant application, your approach needs to be meticulous. Hiring managers will expect you to have a keen eye for detail and that should run right through to your cover letter. Laying the document out — as we have outlined above — will make this process straightforward.

Check out our full research assistant cover letter example below for inspiration: 

Adaptable cover letter example

Dear Dr Thompson,

I am writing to apply for your advertised role of Research Assistant in the Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies. I am an experienced researcher in your field and have cited your previous investigations in my undergraduate and MA dissertations. 

I have relevant experience as a valued team member on previous projects. During my BA, I worked closely with Professor Ainsley on the research question of more inclusion within the publishing world and how much responsibility publishers carry in choosing their authors. Here I was the only junior team member whose contract was extended.

 On other projects, I honed a varied set of techniques to collect data analysing revenues, ownership, and market indicators of not only UK but also EU media. While completing my MA at Amsterdam University, I worked closely with Professor Luisa Masini on a project about media bias within different European media houses. My language skills in both French and Dutch helped me to navigate this international  effort consisting of professors and students from Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, and Paris Universities. Given the international scope of your current research, I see this to be a useful asset.

I was invited to present a subset of findings from my last research position  to a group of prospective MA students and other stakeholders at my university. My MA tutor and line manager would be pleased to provide a reference on the positive feedback elicited by my presentation.

I hope you agree that my previous academic experience and my personal interest in this topic would make me a strong asset to your team. I hope to be considered for this position.

Yours Sincerely,

Juliette Rivers

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Cover letter header

The cover letter header is by no means the most exciting part of this document. But sometimes, you’ve got to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Before you start writing the rest of the letter, make sure you have this element in place. Include your full name, phone number and email address. You may also want to add a link to your LinkedIn page.

As a purely functional element of your cover letter, you don’t want to get too creative here. Simply use plain text and insert hyperlinks if you are sending the cover letter digitally. Make sure that this line is easy to read and in a prime position. When a hiring manager looks at your application, you don’t want to give them any reason not to reach out. 

Cover letter greeting

The cover letter greeting is also known as a salutation. It’s how you say hello to a potential employer. Since you’re applying for an academic role, formality is a given. There’s no room for colloquial greetings or over-familiarity. Show the hiring manager that you are serious. 

Ideally, you should know the full name of the decision-maker. For example,  it might be the lead study author or the project manager when you’re applying for a research assistant role. If you have worked with this professional before or are aware of them, use their title and surname in the greeting. You might write ‘Dear Dr. Storey,’ for instance. 

Of course, the identity of the hiring manager could be shrouded in mystery. If it’s not listed on the job posting and you can’t find it online, you need to try something different. While you may have learnt to use ‘To whom it may concern,’ this approach can sound too anonymous and archaic. Instead, go for the friendly ‘Dear research team’ to kick things off.

Cover letter introduction 

Hook the hiring manager with an engaging cover letter introduction. This part of your application needs to pique the employer’s interest. As we have already mentioned, you’re going to be up against a plethora of qualified and experienced candidates. Use the introduction to set yourself apart from the crowd and let your personality do the talking.

Your tone needs to be professional and passionate. Consider the research project for which you’re applying. Why does it appeal to you specifically? For example, if you are hoping to land a position in a fitness-based study, do you have experience or knowledge of this field? Draw upon any resources you have and highlight them in your opener. 

Researchers are deeply invested in the work that they do and they expect the entire team to adopt the same attitude. For that reason, your introduction needs to share your enthusiasm for the project at hand and the role that you will play. While you don’t want to butter them up too much, letting them know that you’re interested in the sector is vital. 

Our cover letter sample below gives you a taste of how to get this right: 

Adaptable cover letter greeting and introduction example

Dear Dr Thompson,

I am writing to apply for your advertised role of Research Assistant in the Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies. I am an experienced researcher in your field and have cited your previous investigations in my undergraduate and MA dissertations. 

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Cover letter middle part (body)

The middle paragraphs of cover letters are arguably the most important. Within the body of this letter, you have the space to tell a hiring manager exactly why they should hire you. If you have previously worked on research projects, now is the time to mention them. While the majority of the detail will be laid out on your CV, highlight your key achievements. 

Hiring managers will be interested in your prior experience. You can use any research you conducted during your master’s or bachelor’s degree. Additionally, you may want to include details of the projects you have worked on as a research assistant too. 

Be specific about your role in each of these research projects. For instance, if you managed a large body of data for the team, share the extent of that. On the other hand, you may have created reports and shared them with the departments. If that is the case, let the hiring manager know that you are proficient in this area. Think about what it is that makes you an attractive candidate and focus your cover letter on that. 

One way to get ahead of the competition is to refer back to the job posting. You might find that the university or institution included a set of criteria for you to hit. Go through each point and ensure that your cover letter speaks to it in some way. That way, a hiring manager will have good reason to invite you to a formal interview. 

Writing the main part of your cover letter can be intimidating, especially if it’s not your forte. If you need some inspiration, take a moment to look at our cover letter example below:

Adaptable cover letter body example

I have relevant experience as a valued team member on previous projects. During my BA, I worked closely with Professor Ainsley on the research question of more inclusion within the publishing world and how much responsibility publishers carry in choosing their authors. Here I was the only junior team member whose contract was extended.

 On other projects, I honed a varied set of techniques to collect data analysing revenues, ownership, and market indicators of not only UK but also EU media. While completing my MA at Amsterdam University, I worked closely with Professor Luisa Masini on a project about media bias within different European media houses. My language skills in both French and Dutch helped me to navigate this international  effort consisting of professors and students from Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, and Paris Universities. Given the international scope of your current research, I see this to be a useful asset.

I was invited to present a subset of findings from my last research position  to a group of prospective MA students and other stakeholders at my university. My MA tutor and line manager would be pleased to provide a reference on the positive feedback elicited by my presentation.

Copied!

How to close a research assistant cover letter (conclusion and sign-off)

It’s important that you finish strong when writing your research assistant cover letter. The closing lines of your application should pack a real punch. You will have already covered what you plan to bring to the table and why you’re the right candidate for the role. In the conclusion, you should take the opportunity to express your enthusiasm for the project. 

Expert tip

Include a solid call-to-action (CTA)! 

Don’t be shy. This line urges the hiring manager to contact you and take the next steps. For example, you may write ‘Looking forward to hearing from your team and sharing more about my experience’. You could also opt for something like ‘If you want to know more about my skill-set or experience, don’t hesitate to reach out.’

There’s no place for arrogance when writing your cover letter. Yes, you might fit the criteria perfectly, but that doesn’t guarantee you an interview. Close your letter with a sense of optimism and hope — without making any presumptions. If you’re unsure of how to get the tone just right, you can take a look at our cover letter sample here: 

Adaptable cover letter conclusion and sign-off example

I hope you agree that my previous academic experience and my personal interest in this topic would make me a strong asset to your team. I hope to be considered for this position.

Yours Sincerely,

Juliette Rivers

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Research assistant cover letter with no experience

Breaking into the research sector? If you’re a recent graduate or you’re completing your degree, you might not have a wealth of project experience to use. Don’t panic. You can still craft an effective cover letter. Here are some of the elements to include: 

  • Information about your degree subject and modules
  • Why you are interested in the research project or joining the team
  • The research skills you picked up during your education
  • Your passion for the research field and any insights you have
  • The approach your take when you work as part of a team

You’re new to the sector and that’s okay. Everybody has to start somewhere. Research assistant positions are an ideal stepping stone for recent graduates. Within this type of role, you will learn how to work as part of a wider research team, valuable analytical skills and the formal processes. Express an interest in gaining these skills on your cover letter. 

Key takeaways

  1. Your research assistant cover letter should follow a formalised structure. Take note of the core elements you need to include.
  2. Keep things simple by using our field-tested cover letter templates.
  3. This is an academic position. That means that the language needs to be formal yet approachable. Get the tone right.
  4. Share any details of previous projects you’ve worked on or studies you conducted during your time at university.
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Stand out and get hired faster with our collection of free cover letter templates expertly-designed to land you the perfect position.
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