Firstly, it’s important to note that your cover letter needs to expand on key points mentioned in your CV. Never simply repeat them. A strong CV will be tailored to the job you’re applying for. Therefore, your cover letter is your extra opportunity to hone in on the skills and experience you have which makes you the right person for the job.
Read on for our full guide on writing a cover letter.
Do your research
Before you even start writing your cover letter, it’s important step back and consider the company and role you’re applying to. As mentioned above, your letter needs to be tweaked for every position you go for. This means you’ll need to find out the following factors:
- Who is the recruiter receiving your letter – it’s better to address them directly, rather than ‘Sir/Madam’
- What are the skills and experience outlined in the job advert – you’ll need to reference these throughout
- What is happening in the industry that the company operates in – is there anything happening which you could highlight to make yourself sound relevant?
- What is the company like to work for – could you reference any of the key attributes of the organisation that made you want to apply to the job?
- Has the organisation been featured in the news – are there any recent company successes that you can mention?
Stick to a clear format
You may choose to put together a basic version of your cover letter, which you can then edit for each job you apply for. You should structure the document like a formal business letter, with your address and contact details in the top right-hand corner of the page. On the left-hand side, further down, you can copy over the company’s address. Below is the structure you should stick to throughout.
Which position interests you
Your first paragraph needs to address why you’re contacting the employer, which role you’re applying to and how you heard about it. Keep this short and to the point and reference the fact that you’ve attached your CV.
Your relevant skills and experience
The second part of the cover letter should go into more detail about the relevant skills and experience you have. Remember, these need to reflect the points included in the job description. You can usually find these in a ‘key skills’ or ‘requirements’ section.
What you can bring to the employer
Remember the research you did on the company earlier? This is your chance to show it off! If you’ve been working in education for some time, or are just starting out, explain why you want to work for this organisation in particular and what you could bring to the role.
Closing the letter
Finally, your cover letter needs to close with a call to action. Obviously, you don’t want to sound too keen, but it is appropriate to let them know your availability for an interview. Alternatively, if you want to follow up your application with a phone call, let them know that this will be happening. Thank them for reading your letter and close off with ‘Yours sincerely’.
Sending your cover letter
Saving your file
Nowadays, it’s most appropriate to send your cover letter online. If you’re sending it as an attachment, ensure that you save this with a clear file name – such as Cover letter – [Your name] – [Date]. What’s more, stick to saving the document as a PDF. This will keep the formatting of your letter in place and ensures the recipient will be able to open it (Windows PCs use .docx while Macs use .pages, but both use PDFs).
Alongside this, when emailing it over, double check that you have explained in the email that it’s attached. Always ensure that you’ve actually attached the document before clicking ‘send’. In instances where you need to send the cover letter in the body of your email, make sure the subject line is clear. This should outline what job you’re applying to, your name and the reference number if appropriate. For this version, you can remove the addresses and contact details.
Job sites like Education Jobs enable you to submit a cover letter when you apply to jobs. In these cases, you can cut down the contents of your letter to around a third of the length. Ensure that you outline what role you’re interested in applying to, your current position and what you’re looking for in the future. One sentence on each should suffice. You could even reference your notice period and your interview availability at the end.
How long should your cover letter be?
It’s best to keep your letter to one A4 page. This should be enough space to outline your key details. Remember, no recruiter wants to receive your life story. Keep it short and to the point – they’ll only spend a few seconds scanning it.
Tailoring your cover letter
As mentioned earlier in this guide, it is important to tailor your cover letter to each role you apply to. Pick out the key skills that they’re looking for and show that you’re proficient in these areas. Doing so demonstrates your interest in the company and shows the employer how you can benefit them.
What’s more, it gives you an edge over other applicants, because it shows that you’ve done your research. As stated previously, small details like addressing the letter to the right person can help you to stand out.
What to do when there’s no job advert
In some cases, you may wish to contact an employer at a school which isn’t advertising any roles. This will be to find out if they have any positions available, or if they could consider you in the future. As you’ll be making cold-contact, the format will be a little different.
Your first paragraph will need to explain who you are and why you’re writing to them. Try to pick something out that attracted you to their workplace to show that you’ve researched them. You should also outline your key specialism – whether it’s a teaching assistant, a teacher, office staff and so on.
In the second paragraph, highlight any key skills that you know are essential for your line of work. You can also talk about your experience so far and perhaps even reference any key industry trends. Finally, your cover letter will close with thanking them for reading your document. Then, state that you are interested in hearing from them about any relevant roles, in the future.
Over all, writing a cover letter doesn’t need to be too difficult. As long as you’ve thoroughly read the job description, you’ll be able to match your skills and qualifications to the job in question and show the employer why you are a worth candidates.
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