writing cover letters
This entry lists some resources for writing cover letters for academic jobs. They are not geography-specific.
The Online Writing Lab at Perdue University has several useful pages, including this explanation of the parts of an academic cover letter, plus an annotated sample letter: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/print/pw/PDFs/p_covseek.pdf. Another sample letter (for sociology) can be found here at the Chronicles of Higher Education website: http://chronicle.com/jobs/2000/04/20000421advertisedposition.htm . This sample is from the book The Academic Job Search Handbook, which you may find useful.
Claremont Graduate University has an excellent page of tips on how to tailor your letter to the type of institution: http://www.cgu.edu/pages/842.asp.
This page at Berkeley is a little too "how to demonstrate that someone as great as you would want to teach at a crummy school like East Nowhere State College" but is still worth a read, especially about length of letters (keep 'em concise!) and organizing the components of the letter: http://career.berkeley.edu/PhDs/PhDcover.stm. This writer disagrees with Berkeley's advice not to spend the time tailoring letters to each specific institution.
More advice about how to tailor letters to an institution is at http://chronicle.com/jobs/2000/04/2000042101c.htm and at http://chronicle.com/jobs/2000/03/2000030302c.htm. An index of Chronicle articles about presenting yourself on paper is at http://chronicle.com/jobs/topical/present_paper.htm .
According to another Chronicle article, if you are applying to a community college, your cover letter is the most important part of your portfolio. Read the article at http://chronicle.com/jobs/2002/05/2002051601c.htm.
For laughs, check out this cover-letter-generator called the â€œAmazing Cover Letter Creator:â€?
Last, the second course in the Preparing Future Faculty series (GRAD 8102) requires (among other things) preparation and peer review of a cover letter responding to a specific job ad. Having someone from a different discipline read your letter can be frustrating (they push you to change it to match THEIR discipline) but also useful in clarifying your thoughts and words.