Once upon a time, writing a letter was the easiest job on earth. You talk about what you're doing, where you're going and what you're planning to do in the days ahead. But when time comes to describe your accomplishments to people for whom you hope to work, even the most confident aspiring teacher can experience brain and hand freeze. If you're staring blankly at your computer keyboard, this article can help. If you supply the credentials, these tips will help you put your story into a format that's so compelling, folks reading your letter of application will have to look for reasons not to hire you.
- Skill level:
Other People Are Reading
Things you need
- List of accomplishments
- Goals and objectives
- Research on target schools
Get into a "business" frame of mind. It may be tempting to show off your clever sense of humour or your ability to write creatively, but those in a position to recruit staff for teaching positions may not share your enthusiasm for anything less than a professionally-drafted, lucid letter.
Starting your letter off with an impersonal greeting (for example, "Dear Principal") shows you haven't taken time to locate the person to whom your resume should be addressed. If there's no specific name on a web or newspaper ad, call the school and ask for the name of person overseeing teacher recruitment.
Don't dawdle. Launch right into your sales pitch by stating the purpose of your letter in the first paragraph, then explain what strengths you possess as an educator that makes you an ideal candidate for the opening. Keep your list of goals and objectives handy and use it to make your case.
Use the second paragraph of your letter to state your unique qualifications. If you've researched the school to which you're applying, try matching its profile with your life experience. For instance, if you grew up in a rural community and students attending the school to which you hope to work are farm kids, use this fact as a common denominator.
Be overly cautious about sentence structure, syntax, spelling, punctuation and other grammatical potholes. Recruit friends and relatives with strong writing or English language skills to proof the letter before you send it out. Avoid clichés and colloquialisms. Use a strong, active voice and lots of action verbs.
Show your enthusiasm. It won't hurt to say that you have a personal, vested interest in teaching at their facility because you've read about their excellence in teaching award or because your parents attended the school. Mine your brain for ways to enhance your chances---particularly if large numbers of applicants are vying for a few classroom slots.
Hold yourself to a high standard of brevity. Make certain every word in your letter counts because one of your goals should be to try and limit your letter to three paragraphs. Your letter should fit on one side of one page. Too much text automatically triggers negativity in a person reading a mailbag filled with resumes and cover letters.
Don't get fancy by using exotic fonts, picture insertions and/or other gimmicks. Stick to standard fonts like Arial, Helvetica and Times and choose a neutral colour or white paper. If possible, print your letter and resume on the same stock.
Consider the third paragraph as your opportunity to state your strongest case for being considered and address the topic of an in-person interview. It's OK to mention a friend or relative employed with the school to which you are applying, just as long as you get their permission to do so.
You may wish to use an attention-getting technique that's been a winner for the direct response marketing industry for decades: Add a P.S. to your letter to clearly state your most impressive accomplishment.
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