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The MLA Guide for Writing Cover Letters

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The Modern Language Association, or MLA, style of writing is meant for academic papers. Submitting an MLA-style cover letter with your resume only makes sense if you are applying for an academic position, not a business position. With an MLA academic cover letter, the content will be different than a business cover letter both its quantity and its kind. Taking the time to follow specific information points when writing an MLA cover letter will draw an employer's attention to you and hopefully secure an interview.

Basic Information

Address your MLA cover letter as you normally would any other cover letter. Use personal stationery or print your address and other contact information on the sheet. Include the employer's address, the date and a greeting line. If you have address the letter specifically to one person, the greeting line should read "Dear Mr. Last Name." If your submission is to an academic review board, greet the board with "Dear Hiring Committee" or other appropriate title as it pertains to the situation.

First Paragraph

Make the first paragraph of the cover letter concise. State which job you are applying for and list any job code or departmental information, as needed. Include both the means through which you heard about the position and why you specifically are a good candidate to bring in for an interview. Your sales pitch begins in the first paragraph. Make sure that you offer strong reasons from the start.

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Dissertation Emphasis

Emphasize how your thesis or dissertation during your graduate or doctorate work makes you qualified for the exact position. Perhaps no direct material qualification exists, but the amount of research it took and your general knowledge of the whole field in which you studied does qualify you. Note similarities that make you ideal for the job. Academic jobs also want to know you'll be comfortable in their specific institution. Address how your research background helps you fit in--religious study for a position at a Christian university, for example.

Incomplete Dissertation

Let the hiring committee or recruiter know in your cover letter if you have not yet finished your thesis or dissertation. In this case, outline the work you have completed, when you are scheduled to finish the work and your major findings. An incomplete dissertation is not necessarily a mark against you in the hiring process.

Closing

Close the MLA-style, academic cover letter with information about how you can be reached most easily. Refrain from retyping the information already listed on the page. Provide only your most-used form of communication, whether email or phone number. Include a thank you phrase and an expectant remark that shows confidence in your ability to obtain an interview. Close the letter with "Sincerely," followed by your full name and any credentials you have obtained.

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