Insights into cover letter construction

Here's how the cover letter example was constructed.

The first sentence states position of interest. And then,

The promise

This is the sentence that is so appealing, they just have to read the rest of your cover letter. Choose it carefully. (ex. "Parents have told me that their children have started to like, understand, and do well in Math and Science for the first time while taking my classes.").

"Proof" of the promise

List supporting evidence that backs up your claim

  • I am qualified - "I have much to offer your school and have a B.Sc. in Math and Biology, and a B.Ed. with minors in Math, Biology, and General Science."
  • I know cutting-edge teaching techniques - "As a student-centered teacher, I have used group work, outcome-based education, computer integrated activities, and alternate assessment strategies."
  • I have the right personality characteristics - "My strengths include creativity, patience, and a sunny disposition."
  • I'm a visible minority, so I act as a role model (ok, it's low, but it works) - "As I happend to be an oriental female, I also indirectly serve as a role model which encourages girls to pursue Math."
  • I can enhance your school with the following extracurricular activites - "I have many hobbies such as public speaking and Olympics of the Mind that I would enjoy sharing with students in extracurricular activities." All right, this has nothing to do with the promise, but it's a great way to appeal to principals that have pet clubs that need a sponsor or that they'd like to have. In Canada, public school principals were not allowed to ask about this during the interview so it's best to be up front and volunteer the information.

    Spend a lot of time writing your cover letter, it is the first piece of paper the principal will see (staple it on top of your jobhunting stuff). If you don't make this compelling, they'll never get to the rest of your package. Also, make sure it is at least stretchably true - if you make stuff up, it'll be obvious when they ask you to elaborate on this or that at the interview. I identified the things about myself I could sell principals on first, then spent many hours writing the cover letter to convey these in a subtle upbeat way.

    Note that this letter is a carefully selected bunch of true phrases. My practicum report (and many subsequent teaching reports) were not great, hence the need for me to go job hunting each year. The key is taking the time to write the cover letter well.