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Don't mention people by name, mention projects. Go to the group's web pages and read about their ongoing work. Then, when you write your cover letter, highlight how your skills, experience and interest could contribute to the ongoing projects. This not only shows that you are interested enough to look up details about the research group, but also that you ...


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If you're in mathematics and the job posting has a slot for "faculty contacts" you should also list the names of the people you want to work with there. The reason is that you can search those data fields on mathjobs to get a list of everyone who wants to work with you, whereas you can't search the text of cover letters.


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Before applying for the position, speak to at least some of the professors, especially the ones you are most interested in working with. During conversations, suss out what the professors are actually looking for. Perhaps they'll envisage you working for the group, perhaps one of them. Ideally, you should secure a professor to champion your application.


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I'd suggest that you don't name anyone unless you somehow name them all. Not only do you avoid seeming inflexible, you actually maintain some flexibility until you can judge better who would be best if you need to single out anyone. Indicate that you are familiar with their work somehow, I think, by naming papers you are familiar with. (Familiar with, not ...


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Write about your research (interests, current and relevant former positions, and your experience/skills/goals, all in relation to the position you are applying for) in the cover letter. Only mention positions and education milestones (and possibly supervisors of Bachelor's/Master's thesis) in your CV (and publications, if any, in a separate section). The ...


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