I am applying for a postdoc position. A professor advertises the position, and applications are made directly to the professor. His name, email address, etc., is on the "where to send" part. Additionally, the professor is very broad with the application, so a cover letter is more about convincing him of your research idea.

There are questions and answers on this, but should I start the letter with Dear Professor X? Again, no committee and HR email were mentioned.

But the real question is, whenever I refer to the professor's research in the cover letter, do I refer to it in the third person (Prof. X's research has shown...) or directly address the professor (your research aligns with...)?

Two questions are related somehow because addressing the letter to him and then referring to him in the third person sounds just weird to me.

2 Answers 2


Since whom to address is mentioned in the job call, I would directly address to that person—here, the professor/faculty.

In other cases, I try to find if hiring committee chair’s and member’s information is available on the job call. I address them if I find such information. Else, I would write “Dear Committee Chair and Members”

  • Sorry, but in my case, it is directly sent to the professor's email, with his name, etc. Faculty are not involved per se. Are you suggesting going with Dear Prof X, then?
    – rhyso
    Commented Feb 23 at 15:20
  • 1
    Faculty means professor. Commented Feb 24 at 1:44
  • Ah, alright, I guess I misunderstood. Cheers.
    – rhyso
    Commented Feb 24 at 14:53

Yes, address the letter to the professor. I would also not address the prof in the third person, but use other formulations as the one you proposed.

  • You might consider saying more. Why do you suggest this? Without that explanation it is just an opinion. (BTW, I agree but more needs to be said.
    – Buffy
    Commented Feb 23 at 13:07
  • So, I start with Dear Prof Whatever, not referring to him as a "you" in the letter but workaround it without actually mentioning his name in the third person as well.
    – rhyso
    Commented Feb 23 at 13:10

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