Résumé and Cover Letters
A potential employer's first impression of you is your cover letter, also known as a letter of introduction or letter of interest. Your letter introduces you and your résumé. The stark reality is that your résumé may never be read without its being accompanied by a professional cover letter. If the administrator does not feel you are a good fit after reading your cover letter, your résumé likely will not get a first look. Without a stellar cover letter (letter of introduction), you might never receive a call or email. Just remember:
- The purpose of a cover letter is to get your résumé read.
- The purpose of a résumé is to get an interview.
- The purpose of an interview is to sell yourself and your qualifications and show that you are a good fit for the job.
A quick look at your résumé should answer: Do you enjoy students? Can you teach so that students learn? How will you relate to students, parents, and other teachers? Can you implement new standards? How will you score and improve on evaluation frameworks? How well do you understand the educational process? Before you can write your letter, you need a top-notch résumé.
6 Step Approach to Getting Hired
The process is constantly changing so learn all the techie things that now involved and how to prepare for them – phone and video interviews are just the beginning.
Basic Components of a Résumé
The Basic Components of Every Résumé
- Professional Profile (1-3 sentences telling how you can use your experience and training in their setting)
- Experience and Accomplishments (employers, dates of employment, job titles, what you accomplished, including exact numbers if available – language can be found in the InTASC standards)
- Skills and Capabilities (your learned skills and natural capabilities – see list)
- Education (schools, diplomas and degrees with dates, honors, majors, dissertation topic; also list extracurricular activities and accomplishments like heading up a Literacy Alive! project or being an officer for your KDP chapter or tutoring)
Some of the elements of a résumé that will help you get an interview include:
- A professional profile that matches you to their school or district and highlights your abilities and desires;
- Action verbs and phrases that make you sound like a doer and an achiever;
- Specific numbers and details that add credibility to your accomplishments;
- Bullets to help the reader see your most outstanding achievements immediately;
- White space to focus the reader’s attention; and
- Various situations or jobs involving children the age you want to teach.
Three things résumés need are keywords in the first 1/3 of the page, a clear professional profile, and power-packed, meaningful action words. Use the Questionnaire for Preparing a Résumé to start gathering the needed information if you don’t already have it written down. Answer each of the questions specifically! Action words, lists of skills, and help in creating a personal professional profile can be found in the Questionnaire for Preparing a Résumé.
Learn more about how to use keywords, how to format your résumé, and what not to put on your résumé.
Résumé Samples to View (note there are corresponding letters)
View or print the appropriate résumé samples:
- Bilingual Elementary Ed Résumé Sample
- Career Change Résumé Sample
- Experienced Teacher Résumé Sample
- Math (Middle/Secondary) Teacher Résumé
- New Elementary Teacher Résumé Sample
- New Special Ed Teacher Résumé Sample
- New Teacher PreK-6 Résumé Sample
- Preschool Teacher Résumé Sample
- School Administrator Résumé Sample
Sell Yourself in Your Letter
Your résumé cover letter is a sales letter. It sells your résumé; therefore, it sells you. It sets you apart from the many others applying for this same position. Common mistakes made by job hunters are neglecting to submit a cover letter with their résumé or writing a poor cover letter.
Since your résumé gives your work history and qualifications in some detail, your letter needs to succinctly describe you and the specific expertise you bring to the position.
- Briefly mention only the qualifications that are most impressive and pertain exactly to the job opening.
- Indented bullets or numbered lists of three or five items of fairly equal length are easy to read and show your qualifications at a glance.
- Studies have shown that serif fonts such as Georgia or Times New Roman are easier to read in hard copy than a sans serif font such as Arial. Use the same font and size font that you used on your resume—they go together.
Outline for Cover Letter or Letter of Introduction
For a more detailed explanation of your letter and examples of the parts of the letter, see Crafting a Cover Letter. Your letter should consist of exactly three paragraphs:
- Introductory paragraph
State which position you want and how you heard about it. If you can, drop a name. (Be sure you have permission.) Do a little research and say something positive about the school.
Let the person reading the letter know immediately why you are the best candidate for this position. You need that person to read past the first paragraph—and to look at your résumé.
- Job-matching paragraph
Spell out how your qualifications, education, or experience match the employer's needs. You want to appear as the perfect applicant. Use the language used in the job description or good education-ese. (See the InTASC standards and Skills and Capabilities for help.) Additionally, call out other key parts of your résumé that you want the employer to notice.
Do your homework; research the school and learn all you can about it—the mission statement, the students, the demographics, and the people who work there. Relate your abilities, skills, and background to the ways you can help them or their students. Praise the school or system for recent public recognition or accomplishments.
- Closing paragraph
Close your résumé cover letter with a bold statement that you are a strong match for the job position. State that you are looking forward to meeting with him/her. Make sure you mention that you have completed the required application and submitted it appropriately and that anything else that was requested is either complete or in progress. Take the aggressive: Ask for an interview—politely. Say that if you don't hear from him/her in 7-10 days, you will follow up. This is a great way to make sure the résumé was received and to open a dialogue. However, if you really don’t intend to follow up, don’t say you will.
For a more detailed explanation of your letter and examples of the parts of the letter, see Crafting a Cover Letter.
The Perfect Résumé and Letter
Make sure both your spelling and grammar construction are letter perfect in both your résumé and letter! Don't ignore error signals from your word processing program such as green or red underlining. Right click and find out what the problem is. If you send your résumé by email attachment, make sure you send it in the predominant Microsoft® Word format to avoid conversion problems on the receiving end.
Although you are selling yourself, try to use “I” and “my” sparingly—no more than six times in the whole letter. (That is why bullets may be helpful.) Focus on how you can help them attain their goals.
Never copy and paste information from your résumé directly on your cover letter. If you use the same information, re-phrase it and focus it to answer the job description or what you have learned in your research.
Afterwards: Don't forget to follow up!
Call in three days (or however many days you said) and ask if your letter and résumé were received. If so, ask when you could schedule an interview. If the person you talk to does not want to schedule an interview yet, ask when you can call back!
Letters for Internet Job Applications
You can you use this same procedure and format when you are applying for a position over the Internet. Whether you are applying in person or virtually, you need to demonstrate that you have sterling qualifications and that your communication skills are excellent.
Letter Samples to View (note there are corresponding résumés)
View or print the appropriate letter samples:
- Bilingual Elementary Ed Letter Sample
- Career Change Letter Sample
- Experienced Teacher Letter Sample
- Math (Middle/Secondary) Teacher Letter Sample
- New Elementary Teacher Letter Sample
- New Special Ed Teacher Letter Sample
- New Teacher PreK-6 Letter Sample
- Preschool Teacher Letter Sample
- School Administrator Letter Sample