News

News

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