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I'm applying for graduate school, and I'm considering writing to Professors whose research areas match with what I intend to pursue. I've a Masters' degree and 2 years working experience in a renowned MNC - what would be the best way to introduce myself in the first mail:

  • Do I state my credentials first, or do I state my purpose in writing to him?
  • How to mention my background concisely, without giving too much details, while at the same time not "underselling" myself?
  • What should be the salutation - I know "Respected Sir" sounds archaic, but was wondering if "Dear Professor X" sounded too informal or not!
  • I want to give a link to my resume/profile hosted on my website - should I embed the hyperlink, or is it better to write the link in plain text?
  • How do I end such a letter - the obvious ones (such as "see you soon" or "till we meet again" are not quite suitable in this case)?

I'm basically afraid of saying too much (causing vexation) or too little (resulting in no response to my missive) - I needed a bit of guidance on that! Its okay if the answer doesn't touch on all my queries - I'm happy for every bit of useful advice that I can get!

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If you're concerned about the formatting of your links or other information, perhaps try using plain text format (if your email software allows it) and sending the draft message to yourself. You may want to include the full URL rather than just some linked text (write out "http://example.com" instead of "my resume" ) so that even the simplest email software doesn't garble it too badly. Best of luck! :) –  aedia λ Sep 11 '11 at 5:44
    
If you write this letter, get rid of your habit putting blanks before punctuation marks. Oh, and do not use multiple punctuation marks. –  John Smithers Sep 11 '11 at 7:00
    
@John - May I request you to edit my question so as to let me know which ones were most annoying ? For instance, I thought one ought to put a space between the last letter and question mark - is that not correct ? –  TCSGrad Sep 11 '11 at 7:25
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shan23, this is not correct in the English language (neither in German). The only language I know where it is correct, is French. –  John Smithers Sep 11 '11 at 8:01
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

First of all, don't let yourself be intimidated by this effort. You need to be yourself and remain respectful, and you will be fine.

  • I would recommend opening your letter with a standard salutation: "Dear Sir", or simply "Professor Xxxxx".
  • Next, introduce yourself and briefly explain your reason for writing.
  • Follow up with a brief summary of your work experience or educational background, specifically focusing on anything that might be relevant to your reason for writing. (The main point here is to keep it brief!)
  • Wrap things up with a statement indicating that you are including your resume or anything else that you may deem necessary.
  • Close with a standard closing: "Sincerely" or "Respectfully".

Most professors are going to appreciate that you are considering them. Keep your introductory letter simple and to the point. Any attachments, such as a resume, should follow standard form and provide the complete details that would reflect your qualifications. You won't need to provide any dialog with these because they are simply supporting documents.

Good luck!

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I'd also suggest not including an attachment in an initial email unless the recipient has requested it. (Unexpected attachments can cause recipients hesitation, or get a message mistaken for junk mail.) Instead, just note after the summary of your experience that more details and a full CV/resume can be found at [URL]. –  aedia λ Sep 11 '11 at 5:40
    
Yes, that's why I mentioned giving a link to my homepage - I know attachments are not really welcome on a first mail !! –  TCSGrad Sep 11 '11 at 5:47
    
I assumed this was going to be a letter, which is why I suggested including your other documents. If you are sending it as an e-mail, then close by stating that your resume and educational history are available by going to the following link: whatever, or you could state that they are available upon request. I agree that you should not send them as attachments to an e-mail. –  Steven Drennon Sep 11 '11 at 14:26
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