Between the Lines: Your Cover Letter

..Recruiting season is underway and International Educators are asking age-old questions about Cover Letters. “How long should it be? Where does my contact info go? Should I include this? Do I leave out that?” ISR asks:  Why would anyone want their cover letter to be like all the others? 

Without a doubt, your cover letter must be well-organized, concise, and succinctly contain information to spark interest in finding out more about how perfect a candidate you are. Most importantly, to be successful your cover letter should reflect WHO YOU ARE beyond diplomas and work experience. A truly great cover letter will leave a school Director with a favorable impression of YOU, while simultaneously filling them in on the facts.

In a profession where “fit” is everything, it can be that what you say between the lines of your cover letter is more important than the actual words themselves. An excerpt from a long-time contributor to the ISR Open Forum sums it up:

PsyGuy: Most International Teachers are very indistinguishable from one another, there isn’t really much in their backgrounds or experiences that differentiates them from one another, and, as a result, very minor, even trivial differences often mean the difference between the IT who gets the appointment and the ones that don’t. Recruiters aren’t really looking for the greatest IT. They already know you can teach and so can every IT that came before and after you. What they are looking for is “fit,”….. that the IT candidate is going to harmonize with students, parents, the other staff, the curriculum, the ethos, the mission, etc.”

The ‘take-away’ message:  Your cover letter may say you’re a creative, flexible educator who’ll be an asset to the team, but all that is meaningless if it’s filled with clichéd, boring, dry verbage. Landing an overseas teaching position is not just about SAYING you’re creative, flexible, adaptive and a good fit. You need to show it!

The 4-Part Cover Letter

Part 1:  Introduce yourself, succinctly . Save the juicy, interesting tidbits for Part 3. State the position for which you are applying plus the date on which you are first available to fill it.
Part 2:  Match your professional/educational experiences with the stated job requirements.
Part 3:  Highlight some personal information about yourself and how you will “fit” into the school’s overall atmosphere. Illustrate how you will be an asset to the school beyond merely filling the position.
Part 4:  Express excitement about the position. Encourage the reader to review/critique your resume.

Your challenge:  Get creative! Step out of the confines of the typical, uninspired cover letter. Mix in some personality. Choose words that fulfill the basics requirements, while at the same time illustrating your unique personality. Show a Director that beyond qualifications, buttons and badges, you’re the best fit for the job. 

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4 Responses to Between the Lines: Your Cover Letter

  1. Anonymous says:

    As someone who screens CVs and Cover letters in my School, I would add the following

    write to a person – either the director of head of HR but address it to a person. If you want a job here this is the minimum amount of research that actually shows you are interested.

    Make it obvious that you know what the school is looking for. Use the job title advertised, make overt references to a Job Description


  2. Been there says:

    In response to, “how long?” I have found that since going from a short one-page cover to a full two-pager, I’ve had more positive responses. I follow the 4-part guidelines already mentioned, and attempt to support my candidacy for the position with a narrative.

    For example, I might talk about how I planned a unit of inquiry with my team, how I used ongoing assessment throughout the unit to guide the lessons, what the quantitative and qualitative results showed me, and how it was received by leadership. What did I do to make it fun and engaging? How did I address learning needs? All this, I believe, can illustrate one’s expertise better than a CV, and so far many recruiters agree.


  3. Jim says:

    I don’t take much notice of cover letters when recruiting teachers and go straight to the resume.


  4. John says:

    “Recruiters aren’t really looking for the greatest IT. They already know you can teach…”

    Assuming one can teach simply because they are a teacher is a colossal mistake. Just ask all the students I tutor.


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