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Cover Letter Guidelines

How to Write a Dynamic Cover Letter/Letter of Interest

Before you begin writing your letter, take some time to find common ground between your strengths/accomplishments and the needs of the school. Then emphasize those points in your cover letter as well as in the list of qualifications for this position from your résumé.  This requires RESEARCHING the school.

Example:

School needs:
Adopted Reading Recovery Method
Large bilingual population
Building recently wired for Internet
Collaborative program with local art museum
Uses History Alive! curriculum

Your strengths and accomplishments:
3.75 GPA in college
Trained in Reading Recovery Method
Fluent in Spanish
Attended college course about Internet applications in elementary schools
Earned All-America status in lacrosse

Common ground:
Proficiency using Reading Recovery Method
Ability to speak Spanish
Knowledge of educational Internet applications

As you compose your letter, keep the following tips in mind:

  • This is an interview on paper and should move the reader to want to know more about you.  Let your personality shine.
  • Avoid simply repeating your résumé word for word.
  • Personalize Each Cover Letter. Use the job description as a guide for what is of interest to your audience.
  • Use the same font as you've used in your résumé.  Keep font size reasonable and easy to read.
  • Print on a high-quality printer using good-quality bond paper: soft white, cream, ivory, light blue or light gray. Use the same paper for your résumé.
  • If you're submitting your letter electronically, convert the final version to a PDF. PDFs are more compatible than text documents with the district's system. If you don't have a PDF writer, you can easily download a free version by doing an online search for "PDF Writer Download." Don't forget to save both the text version and the PDF version of your letter in more than one place.
  • Make sure that your letter is error-free.
  • One page is preferred -- three to five short paragraphs are optimal; if necessary, your letter can be two pages.  Be sincere and enthusiastic, but not repetitive.
  • Whenever possible, address the letter to a specific person (call the human resource office if no name is given), or use "Dear Search Committee" when the name of a specific person is not available.
  • State the specific job and job number for which you are applying.
  • Have several people read your letter and give feedback.
  • Highlight what YOU can do for THE COMPANY, not what it can do for you.

How to Get the TEACHING Job You Want, Second Edition, pgs. 55-61