A cover letter is one of the most important keys in a successful job search regimen. While the debate has raged back and forth as to whether cover letters are read or even necessary, cover letters continue to be the key that opens the door for your resume. As a prospective teacher, it is important that your cover letter does a good job portraying you as a professional and dedicated educator.
Remember that the cover letter is an introduction to your resume. Your resume is probably a little bit drier and factual. It explains your qualifications and experiences, and summarizes them to show whether you meet minimum qualifications. Your cover letter, on the other hand, shows you as a person. While not overly informal, it should give them an idea of you as a person, and why you would be a good fit in the particular position.
Of course, every cover letter needs to look professional. It should be neat and orderly, with no spelling mistakes or bad grammar. But this is especially important for a teacher. No administrator is going to look twice at a teaching candidate if the cover letter is sloppy and full of mistakes.
Be sure to address the letter to a specific person, if you know who will be receiving it. Do your homework; it shouldn’t be too hard to find out which administrator is reviewing candidates. If you are absolutely unable to find a name, address it to, “Dear Administrator.”
You will basically break your cover letter into three parts:
• Introduction: The position you are applying for and how you learned of it.
• Body: This is where you convince them to give you an interview.
• Conclusion: Here you will request an interview.
In your first paragraph, you will identify the specific position you are interested in. If you are sending an unsolicited resume, you will explain the type of work you are interested in, whether that might be a certain grade level or subject. Let them know where you heard of the opening, and if you were referred by someone, this would be the appropriate place to mention it.
This is where you will sell yourself. Be sure to clearly identify what skills and experience you have that make you ideally suited for this position. Refer to specific parts of your resume that highlight why you are the perfect fit. You have to convince them to give you the interview, and this is where you make your case.
Understand that with tight budgets and other constraints, most administrators are far too busy to try to figure out why you are the right candidate by looking at a generalized letter. While you may use the same resume for the type of teaching you want to do, you must avoid generic cover letters. They show a lack of effort and interest, and your resume will probably never even be seen.
Be sure to present your specific abilities, your education or any experiences that make you a prime candidate for this position. In most interviews, you will be asked why they should hire you instead of the other candidates. Your cover letter is the perfect opportunity to start answering that question before you even step through the door.
Finally, use a few sentences to request an interview. Let them know that you are interested in meeting with them to discuss how your skills can help them meet objectives. You probably don’t need to include that you will be following up in the next week or so. As a top prospect, you will naturally be doing that, anyway. Make sure to let them know the best time and method to contact you to set up the interview. You want to appear confident, without being pushy. It can be a fine line to walk, but you need to show interest without appearing desperate or apologetic.