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Cover Letter Tips

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A resume is only one portion of the correspondence you will need to prepare for your job-hunting campaign. A well-written cover letter is necessary for introducing the accompanying resume. Knowing this, you should expect to devote careful attention to organizing and developing a cover letter that is targeted for each employer. Although you need to write cover letters for individual school districts instead of mass-producing them, you may prepare a "generic" letter of introduction and adapt it for specific positions or employers.

A well-written cover letter does the following:
• Personalizes and targets the resume
• Directs attention to the specific skills of the candidate
• Demonstrates the candidate's fit for the position
• Opens the door for further communication

Let's examine each of these points:
1) Personalize It!: By nature, a resume is impersonal. When you send a resume without a targeted cover letter, you create the impression that the recipient is merely one of several random employers you are pursuing.
Always address the cover letter to a specific individual within the school district--preferably the person who is most likely to have decision-making authority for the desired position. Solid research results in a specific list of individuals within targeted school districts. If you are not confident about the addressee, call the school district to verify the individual's name and title.

2) Direct Attention to Your Skills: The ultimate question that job seekers must answer throughout the search is "What are the unique qualities and skills that set you apart from other candidates?" The cover letter allows you to highlight a particular skill or accomplishment that relates to teaching. By researching the needs of the district, you are able to highlight teaching skills and experience that relate specifically to needs on the district's radar screen.

3) Demonstrate Fit with the Position: This objective completes the message of #2 above. Ideally, your motivation to work in ABC District is related to something about you: your student teaching experience, your strengths working with diverse populations, your interest in working with ESL students, etc. Once again, this gives you the opportunity to help employers understand why you are the perfect candidate for their needs.

4) Manage the Closing: As the job seeker, you initiate the exchange of further communication. Therefore, indicate when and how you will follow-up. Unless your research indicates otherwise, you should follow-up within seven to ten days. Even a simple act like calling a prospective employer to inquire about the status of your application will demonstrate your motivation and ability to pay attention to details.

Prepare a cover letter that demonstrates you've researched the employer and that you can articulate your fit with their school and your certification area. These details will assist you in getting to the next step of the teacher application process!

Deborah R. Snyder
Associate Director, Education Career Services
Grove City College, PA

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