Becoming a Teacher: The Cover Letter
In a nutshell, a cover letter is your initial introduction to a potential employer. It should get the recipient interested—and even excited—to read your resume.
As a general rule, never submit your resume to a potential employer unless it is accompanied by a personalized cover letter. Think of the cover letter as a companion document to your resume. This specialized form of the basic business letter is designed to:
- introduce you to a potential employer
- state what job you are applying for
- explain some of the reasons why your resume is worth looking at
- request some sort of action to be taken by the reader, such as inviting you for an interview
Here are some points to remember as you write your cover letter:
- Use a professional business letter format.
- Quickly introduce yourself and explain your reason for writing.
- State how you found out about the position.
- Be brief, but show that you know something about the position; express interest in the position and describe how your abilities match the qualifications for the position.
- Demonstrate that you know something about the school district.
- Indicate that you would like to come in for a formal interview.
- Proofread the letter for spelling, grammar, and typing errors.
Always keep the purpose of your writing in mind; it will direct your thoughts and keep you on task. Write concisely, clearly, and directly, and do not overuse the passive tense. Follow the old rule of speaking, and adapt it to your writing: Tell them why you are writing, write about it, and then summarize it.
Whether you are creating a cover letter that will be printed out, then hand-delivered, mailed, or faxed (as opposed to e-mailed along with an electronic resume), the content and format of the cover letter is the same. The only difference between the two is that an electronic cover letter will be placed in the main body of an e-mail message, typically with your resume as an attached file.
The cover letter will have the following distinct parts:
- your contact information
- their contact information
- opening paragraph
- primary message paragraph(s)
- supporting paragraph
- specific request for action
Before you actually sit down to write a cover letter, make sure you know:
- recipient's full name
- recipient's job title
- company name
- company mailing address
- the exact position you are applying for
An example of a good cover letter follows.
Sample Cover Letter
- Your name
- 5555 S. Hope Street
- Anywhere, Nebraska 12345
- April 13, 2008
- Dr. John Dunn
- 555 South Benton
- Klamath Falls, Oregon 56789
- re: English teacher position
- Dear Dr. Dunn:
I am applying for the position of secondary English teacher at Rodeo High School. I learned about this position at the University of Oregon Career Placement Day, held in early April. I believe my education, experiences, and interests meet the expectations for this position.
This position requires someone with not only excellent credentials to teach English but also excellent writing skills. My resume shows that I have been published in a variety of journals and that I have conducted many workshops for other college students on ways to improve their writing skills. I also served as a volunteer student tutor in a learning center for at-risk students at a local high school. Documentation of these students' work indicates substantial improvement in their grades when they returned to traditional English courses.
While in high school and college, I was very active in a variety of organizations and activities. These experiences complement my academic preparation. I would be very interested in sponsoring student activities in your school.
I believe my academic preparation, school-related activities, and career goals match the requirements for this position. I am confident that I will be an asset to your school and that this position can fulfill my professional and personal needs as well. I am hoping to hear from you soon to schedule an appointment for an interview. Please call me at (555) 555-5555.
Thank you for considering my qualifications.
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