Very nice post from Danial Yousaf in PhD and Postdoc positions
His post say about basic things but in a good organization. I hope in one day i can write a quality post like this
Dear brothers and sisters, if you are planning to contact foreign professors for a postgraduate position in his/her lab or you have already emailed a lot of professors but not getting a positive response, this post is for you. Keep reading.
I used to email professors on regular basis without any luck at all. Then I changed my approach and it really paid off. I got positive response from many professors and some of them invited me to interviews too. Even those professors who had no open position emailed me and thanked me for my interest in their labs and advised me to keep visiting their webpages.
Here are some valuable tips for you. I am hopeful they will be useful to you.
1. Always prefer quality over quantity. Never throw a large number of poorly written emails, rather send a limited number of quality emails. For this, you have to dedicate a good amount of time to every single email.
2. Write a separate email to each professor. Do not send a generalized email to every one. Show the professor that you have indeed worked hard and you are a serious candidate.
3. Only send email to a professor if your research interest matches his/her work OR you can demonstrate a solid interest in and a sound knowledge of the professors area of research.
4. Before emailing, always visit the website of the professor and know about what research he or she is currently doing. It is not going to help if you show your interest in an area in which professor worked say 20 years ago.
5. The most important point is doing proper homework before sending an email. Read at least one paper of the professor 3 times and ask yourself these questions: how your previous research correlates with this work, what can you add to this work to make it more effective, what new methods/techniques can be applied, why are you finding this research work compelling, etc. Please remember that the more homework you do greater the chances are that you will impress the professor.
6. Once you have done your homework, its time to compose the email. Obey the following rules:
A. After salutations, introduce yourself briefly and mention the purpose of your email.
B. Show your interest in professors work by referring to his/her publications. Try to use the language used by professor in his/her articles. Proposing a new and plausible idea is always good to get the professors attention.
C. Briefly state how you can be a good addition to professor’s lab by mentioning your past experience.
D. Close your email by showing your interest in joining professors lab
E. Attach your CV and send the email. Please note that the email should be brief and to the point.
F. If a professor refuses to offer you a position, reply in a cordial manner and pay thanks for his/her time. It is likely that the professor will contact you if there was a position in his/her lab in the future.
Please note that searching for a funded position is an arduous task and you should never lose hope even if you dont get good response. If you can be persistent in your hunt, you will surely get a good offer. Thanks and best wishes to all of you.