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Top 5 cover letter tips when seeking teaching jobs

Question:
Guidance Counselor,

Teaching

I have been applying for teaching jobs for a few months now and have not heard back from any schools. I know that spring is prime hiring time in schools and I am starting to feel panicked. I think my resume is strong, but admittedly need help with the cover letters. Should I send one to each school where I apply? What should be included in a cover letter when applying for teaching jobs? Best, Jenny

Answer:
Dear Jenny,

Great question--and one that many people are unsure about. In my opinion, I think it is best to always send a cover letter to each school that receives your resume. It is a way to introduce yourself, express your interest in the institution, and tell how you'd fit perfectly into the school. Try out the 5 cover letter tips below when seeking teaching jobs.

Brag. Briefly describe you most impressive professional experiences, awards or accomplishments. Remember, your resume is attached so try not to sound repetitive, but do try to highlight your strengths. You want to make a memorable impression and your cover letter is, most likely, the first document that an administrator will look at.

Edit. Nothing gives the school administrator a bad impression like spelling or grammatical errors on a cover letter. In fact, no matter how impressive your experience or education is, this kind of mistake will most likely get your resume and cover letter sent directly to the paper shredder. To ensure that you don't get a big, fat NO without so much as a second look, check and double check to see that your cover letter is error-free. Read it over several times yourself and ask at least two more trusted people to proofread and revise it for you.

Personalize it. Some people will tell you it is fine to send a "general" cover letter to each school. Others may advise you to tailor each cover letter to fit each position and school where you are applying. While the second is obviously more work, the benefits could outweigh the effort. U.S. News and World Report agrees that customizing a resume is a must. Look up the school's address to include, use the principal's name, and indicate the exact teaching position you are interested in. Of course it is okay to include much of the same information in most of the body, but tailoring it to fit each school and position will make a much better impression than "Dear Sir."

Research. Check out the school's website and learn about its mission. Not sure exactly what kind of information to include? Consider answering one of the following questions in your cover letter to show you know what the school is about: how does your professional experience or education in your teaching degree program match what they are seeking, why have you been drawn to the school, or, more specifically, what is something that you find special about the school, its goals, curriculum or program, or what do you think you can bring to the school specifically based on its needs?

Follow up. You'll probably use email or snail mail to get your cover letters and resumes out. And, yes, they are both reliable ways to communicate, but nothing is 100 percent guaranteed unless you hand deliver it yourself. Things do happen and it is possible that the school never did receive your paperwork. For positions that you are really interested in, it is perfectly acceptable to call or send an email to a school you haven't heard from. You can simply ask if your resume and cover letter have been received. You may also want to inquire about the status of the position.

Be sure to thank the administrator for his or her consideration and time at the end. Best of luck as you search for teaching jobs.

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