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How important is the cover letter?

Rick Bowman - Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cover letters are very important as they provide the “appetiser” for the employer to want to read your resume. Your resume will stand out more from other resumes if it is preceded by a good cover letter. Here are a few things to consider when writing a good cover letter for a teaching application:

Format of cover letter

If you are submitting a resume and cover letter to an educational institution, your cover letter must be written clearly and concisely, and make it easy for the employer to quickly gain an understanding of your work history, achievements and potential for the position. It is recommended your cover letter should be typed and on one side of an A4 bond sheet of paper.

Know who will read your cover letter and resume

A common mistake in most cover letters is using a generic addressing statement like “To Whom it May Concern”. This can give a negative impression to the reader. It is important to be able to know who to address within the cover letter by calling the school or institute to which you are applying. Calling them will actually show that you have initiative in applying for the position.

How to write your letter

Your cover letter should quickly grab the attention of the employer when they read it. Another common mistake in most cover letters is repeating much of the information already in the resume. Your cover letter should simply tell the employer what makes you stand out from the other applicants. It should be very broad and discuss briefly your background and reasons for applying for the position.

In the body of your cover letter, rather than detailing which university you’ve graduated from or your previous job experience, consider discussing 1-2 of your major accomplishments and how you will fit well with the goals and ethos of the new school. In other words, why should they hire you?

 

Teachers’ Professional Resumes can help you with writingyour cover letter and CV to significantly increase your chances of winning that job. Visit their website for more information.

 Rick Bowman

Writing Your Resume for Teaching in NSW

Rick Bowman - Wednesday, November 21, 2012

 

Teaching in any New South Wales school is a rewarding job experience. Helping children learn is a great way to give back to your community and see young minds grow. Read on to know how to effectively write a resume to apply for a teaching position in a NSW school.

Read the job listing carefully

Before writing your resume, it is important to carefully read the job listing you will be applying for. This is found here. https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/jobs/Enquiry?Command=GoToPublishedEnquiry. When writing to criteria, many applicants fail to include specific information as to what they may like to initiate or become involved in, once in the new school.  A common mistake is to write a generic resume which will be submitted to several or more job listings. Taking in any details within the job listing and knowing more about the individual school will give you important information to include within your selection criteria and perhaps your resume.

Your cover letter and resume

This is a key part of your application and usually first thing the panel will see before reading your selection criteria. Think of your cover letter and resume as an upcoming movie preview. The most common mistake is to oversimplify the cover letter with statements like “I wish to apply for the position”. Like a movie preview, the cover letter should sell your resume and make the panel eager to read on.

To maximise the quality of your cover letter, Include the reason or statement as to why you are the right candidate for the job, as well as the name of the principal or SED to make a good cover letter. 

A good rule of thumb is to only include the necessary information including your education, job experience, training and contact information. Do not include a photo, discussion of hobbies or personal interest, church affiliation or family details on a government school application.

NSW schools require six general criteria to be written, as well as certain position criteria which are included with the job listing. Present your responses to these position criteria first, and in this section be sure to include a paragraph (the Potential or Projecting Statement) at the end of each criterion which talks about your future role. This is where you show the panel what you can do for their school!  Place the six generic (General) criteria last.  These do not need to be tailored to the individual school.

Writing an approved NSW DEC resume can be a very rewarding investment. If you need help, Teachers’ Professional Resumes can work with you to obtain the teaching position you desire.

Become a Leader in Australian Education: First Step is Your Resume

Rick Bowman - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Every successful teaching job starts with a well written resume. This includes any Australian teaching position. Read on to find out how your Australian teacher’s resume is your first step to becoming a leader in education.

The employers’ side

When a company or institution is looking to hire new employees, the hiring manager will only have a minimum amount of time to skim through all of the resumes of applicants. The hiring manager will only look for the most significant information within all of the resumes and most likely skip any information that isn’t relevant.

The cover letter of the application is almost always the most important part of a resume. This is the first thing an employer will see before your resume. A good cover letter can capture the attention of the employer which may increase the overall appeal of your resume.

As mentioned before, the employer will only look for the most significant information within your email or letter depending on the nature of the job. For example, a school who is hiring a teacher will only look for the applicant’s job experience and education found within their resume. For some employers, they will be looking for other specific information including age, gender, permanent address or major achievements of the applicant.

Benefits of a professionally written resume

Most university graduates might commit certain mistakes when they create their first resume. In addition, they might not be able to notice the mistake they have done and will most likely not receive the chance to be interviewed by the company or school to which they are applying.

Teachers who are applying for a job in a certain state for the first time may encounter problems with the state’s criteria or unique selection and recruitment requirements. Failing to understand the criteria may lessen the chance for an applicant to receive the job position. 

Professional resume writers and advisors, like those at Teacher Professional Resumes, can help create a quality resume that is truly eye-catching for any state or school within Australia and overseas. The writers know the most common mistakes to avoid when writing a resume. Depending on the state and school a teacher is applying for, they will understand the criteria an applicant must know to increase their chance of getting hired. They can also write a very eye-catching cover letter to give your resume some much needed attention.

When you are planning on applying for a teaching job, consider Teacher Professional Resumes to help you with your resume to get you started on the road to being a top Australian educator.

Rick Bowman 

How to Write a Cover Letter

Rick Bowman - Thursday, August 23, 2012

When going for a teaching job, one thing that you are going to have to do is to create a cover letter to go with your résumé. This may seem like a daunting prospect, but there are some things that you can do in order to make your cover letter a good one. Here are some tips for writing your teacher cover letter.

Address the Letter Correctly – If you are trying to go for a professional approach then you need to make sure that you address your teacher cover letter in the correct manner. Avoid using informal headers like “Hi”. Instead, you should be writing something along the lines of “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern”. Both of these will allow you to seem professional rather than informal.

Make the Letter a Brief One – When writing a teacher cover letter, one of the most common mistakes is writing several pages. The problem with this is that potential employers do not want to read pages and pages of irrelevant filler. Be to the point. Simply outline why you have sent them your résumé, and what you are hoping to accomplish.

Errors Should Not Exist – One of the main things to remember, when it comes to writing a teacher cover letter, is that errors should not be present anywhere in your cover letter. Even something as simple as a spelling mistake can completely ruin your chances of gaining employment. The best way to make sure that there are no errors is to spell check, proof read, and ask other people to proof read as well.

Always Type your Cover Letter – One big mistake that so many people make is handwriting a teacher cover letter. Handwriting a letter is unprofessional, and will definitely not help your chances of gaining employment. Always use a word processor to type your teacher cover letter. In addition, avoid using irregular fonts. Standard fonts like Times New Roman will be sufficient.

As long as you follow these tips then you should have no problem when it comes to creating a successful teacher cover letter. Getting a teaching job can be incredibly difficult, but the more you prepare yourself the better. As long as you create a concise, well written cover letter, you’re headed in the right direction.  

Rick Bowman

The Art of The Cover Letter

Rick Bowman - Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In many cases, the cover letter provides the panel (read: potential employer) with the first glimpse of you – your experiences, skills, qualities and most importantly, potential for the new role. In fact, it is often the opening paragraph that sets the scene!

It is therefore essential that you get it right!

In 1935 Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People made the point that “in 90% of conversations, each participant regularly asks themselves the question What can this person do for ME?” While this may sound quite narcissistic, egomaniacal and severely self-centred, it is worth noting that this is the mindset of potential employers and panels as they fastidiously burrow through your hopefully gripping masterpiece!

Prior to applying for your new job, ensure you read the job description thoroughly. If it is sufficiently detailed and clearly presented, you should gain valuable insights into the panel’s expectations with regard to your future role, and in turn, some helpful ideas as to how to style your letter and résumé (CV). If appropriate, you may wish to contact the school and seek an appointment with the principal. This serves a number of valuable purposes – e.g. not only finding out more about the school, but most importantly – giving the principal a face to attach to the written application!  

And so to the cover letter.... this needs to be primarily driven by your new job – it should be styled with your new role clearly in mind and the language you choose should reflect this. For example - if you are applying for a leadership role within a school, then your letter needs to strongly reflect a leadership perspective – i.e. you need to talk primarily in a strategic, rather than operational, mode.  Or if you are seeking a position within a church-related school, then it may be wise to include details of your family, religious commitment, community work, personal beliefs and the like.

Like Dale Carnegie’s conversationalists, panels usually ask themselves two major questions:

  • Why does this person want to work for US?
  • What can this person do for OUR SCHOOL?

Your opening paragraph should answer the first of these questions. Your penultimate paragraph should answer the second.

In the opening paragraph – talk about your current job and how you find it rewarding and enjoyable. But  make the point that your new job will be even more rewarding and give a reason why. For example....

I find my present role as a teacher of Physics especially rewarding and exciting, having had the opportunity of introducing many interesting technologies into my classroom. I now feel that it is time for me to accept the challenge of leading and working with my new colleagues as together we work towards embracing new changes in curriculum and pedagogy.

This paragraph really answers both the panel’s questions – its real strength is that it gives the reader a window into one attribute the applicant could bring to the school.

In Paragraphs 2 and 3 you may wish to choose some major achievements and discuss these in some detail. This is your opportunity to talk in the mode of the  new job. So if you’re presently a classroom teacher and applying for a faculty head (secondary) or assistant principal or year level coordinator (primary) – make sure you choose examples at this level. If you are already a middle manager and applying for a senior job such as deputy or principal – then you should style your discussions using examples that mirror whole school involvements.  Remember though – your CV is the place to spell these out in detail. In your cover letter, just provide a brief description – enough to make the panel want to read on.

Paragraph 4 (penultimate) provides you the opportunity of discussing something you are passionate about and indicating that this is something you can bring to the new school. Consider for example this excerpt from a letter written by a current Faculty Head (Maths) aspiring to the role of Deputy Principal in a high school....

I am a very firm believer in the importance of teaching cognitive skills as a part of every curriculum area.  I see thinking skills as, like Literacy, Numeracy and Technology, a cornerstone of future success for every student. In my present role I have mentored teachers across the faculty in implementing aspects of Blooms Taxonomy into open-ended mathematical investigations. These have provided students with many valuable skills such as forming and validating hypotheses. This is a wonderfully exciting part of the learning journey and one which I would greatly enjoy sharing with colleagues on a whole-school basis.

The final paragraph (Paragraph 5) is the conclusion – this provides the brief closure, foreshadows the CV (résumé) and is the place to thank the panel for the opportunity of applying for the position.

When you’re done, read and re-read your application. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader ....

  • Is there evidence of achievement at the next level?
  • Have you explained why you’re applying for the new job?
  • Is your cover letter reflective of the nature and culture of the school?
  • Have you given them something to whet their appetite – what you can do for them?

If your answer to each of these questions is “Yes” – then you’re well on the way!

Rick Bowman