How to write a professional historian cover letter
Historians are the reason we know so much about our past, from historical leaders to major world events. Becoming a historian takes years of dedication and commitment to your education, as well as experience in the field. To earn a job as a historian, you must write a compelling cover letter that hooks employers’ attention, leading them to want to get to know you better.
In this guide, we teach you 5 steps for writing a cover letter as a historian. Keep reading to learn all about how to:
- Format your historian cover letter header and headline
- Tailor your historian cover letter for each specific employer
- Craft an impressive introduction for your historian cover letter
- Showcase your professional value as a historian
- Conclude your historian cover letter with a persuasive statement
1. Format your historian cover letter header and headline properly
Formatting can make a huge difference in a cover letter, as a properly formatted one provides the employer with visual clues about the most important information found on the document.
Aside from correct sentence structures and well-written paragraphs, the key formatting elements to include on a cover letter are a cover letter header and a cover letter headline.
Starting with the header, this is where you will place your personal information, such as your name, professional title, and contact information.
Additionally, your header should include the formal address of the company you are sending the letter to.
Here is an example of a well-formatted historian cover letter header
Megan Jones, Historian
(123) 456-7890 | firstname.lastname@example.org | linkedin.com/in/megan-jones
To: Smithsonian Institution
1234 Street Address
Washington, D.C. 20001
After you are satisfied with how your header looks, you can then write your cover letter headline.
A headline is important, as it helps to hook the employer’s attention and to introduce the main point of your cover letter. To write an excellent headline, make sure to use relevant keywords and strong verbs or adjectives to create a strong first impression.
Here is an example of a well-written historian cover letter headline
My 3 Key Skills as a Historian & How I Plan to Apply Them for the Benefit of Your Institution
2. Tailor your historian cover letter for each specific employer
Making a cover letter stand out from the letters of competing applicants may seem complicated, but it can be simply accomplished through one key action: tailoring the letter to each employer you reach out to.
This means the details and information found in your cover letter must be highly relevant to the employer and what they are asking for from job applicants. For instance, if the employer is currently involved in a major historical development project for the local community, you should reference this and how your skills can help with this project in your letter.
Moreover, you need to let the employer know right away that the letter has been tailored. To do so, you should write a personalized greeting that addresses the person responsible for hiring by name.
Here are 3 examples of personalized cover letter greetings
- Dear Head Historian Jane Fondu,
- Dear Mrs. Jane Fondu,
- Dear Hiring Manager Leonard Polk,
3. Craft an impressive introduction for your historian cover letter
While hooking an employer’s attention is important, it is not enough to keep them reading.
In addition to the hooks provided via your headline and personalized greeting, you also need an impressive introduction that highlights your top qualifications for the position.
Remember, though your introduction should be rich with detail, it should also be concise. Focus mainly on your experience, specializations, and why you are the perfect fit as an applicant.
Here is an example of an impressive introduction from a historian's cover letter
Dear Head Historian Jane Fondu,
I am a historian with 6+ years of specialized experience researching Mayan civilizations, specifically in the context of the Spanish colonization. With your institution’s ongoing research of the history of the Mayan people, I can provide valuable insights from my own research, as well as assist in conducting new archaeological studies of the region and its inhabitants.
4. Showcase your professional value as a historian
Once you have written your introduction and feel it is impressive enough to keep an employer intrigued, you can begin describing your relevant skills and accomplishments in the field.
As you do, try to provide ample — but still concise — contextual information that makes it clear why you have included these details in your cover letter and why you are qualified for the position.
Additionally, aim to include one to two accomplishments where you can provide quantifiable information as support for your claims. This helps to show the employer the real-life value you have to offer.
Here are 6 historian skills to describe in a cover letter
- Collecting and analyzing historical data
- Interpreting historical writings, artwork, and other documents
- Presenting your findings in a professional setting
- Conducting surveys and field research
- Collaborating with other historians
- Developing educational programs
Here is an example of how to describe an accomplishment in a historian's cover letter
As a historian at [Former Employer], one of my key responsibilities was to assist with the translation and decoding of ancient Greek texts. Thanks to my diverse linguistic background, I was able to complete more than 10 full translations that were used to publish new findings never before reported in history books, museums, or other institutions.
5. Conclude your historian cover letter with a persuasive statement
To finish your historian cover letter effectively, you need a persuasive statement that encourages the employer to get in touch with you quickly.
Accomplishing this requires you to include:
- A statement on how the employer can best contact you
- Your plans to follow up, including how and when
- A formal sign-off
Here is an example of a well-written conclusion from a historian's cover letter
It brings me great excitement to be considered for this position and I look forward to hearing from you soon. You may call me any day of the week between the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (123) 456-7890, or email me at email@example.com. If I have not heard back by next Friday, I intend to follow up with you via phone call that morning.
If you have ever wondered how a cover letter differs from a resume, this article will tell you everything about the key differences between the two.