Length: While the resume can be two pages in length, the cover letter should be no longer than one page.

Content: If you’re struggling to think of what should comprise the content of your cover letter, look to your resume for inspiration. Are there success stories touched upon in your resume that warrant further explanation? If so, those success stories, phrased briefly, are worthy of sharing in the cover letter. Try to focus on stories/anecdotes that show how your efforts improved student performance or how your efforts are evidence of innovative teaching. Another approach is to devote some words to why you are a good fit with the school. This is an opportunity to show you have done some research on the district/ school philosophy, programs, initiatives, etc. that reflect your goals and interests.

Sentence Structure: Since you are prohibited from using the first-person “I” in your resume, you may feel the temptation to begin many, consecutive sentences with “I” in the cover letter. Avoid doing so, as the sequence of so many simple subject-simple predicate sentences makes for tedious reading.

Mailing: Since your resume and cover letter will be mailed with other documents (such as the application and a transcript), mail all documents unfolded in a large manila envelope.

Paper: Make sure your resume and cover letter are printed on the same paper. White or off-white paper without borders, shading, or background design is the best choice because it is not only professional looking, but also produces “clean” photocopies. A photocopy of a resume printed on even a slightly marbled-looking background is likely to produce a mottled appearance. Since your resume and cover letter will be reviewed by a search committee, it’s likely that your materials will be photocopied.

Titles for Targets: If you are addressing your cover letter and application materials to a superintendent (as is often the case), but the job announcement posted on the web or in a newspaper doesn’t indicate whether or not the superintendent has an academic title (e.g. “Dr.”) go ahead and address the superintendent as “Dr.” It’s better to incorrectly ascribe the academic title than to slight a person by omission.

In the Absence of a Target: Job announcements usually will ask that you mail your materials to a specific individual, such as the superintendent of a school district or a headmaster of a private school. Sometimes, however, no specific individual’s name or title is given. In this case, you are encouraged to a) call the school to inquire about the name and title of the person to whom applications should be sent or b) consult a state department of education website (which usually list superintendents of schools). If no information of this kind can be gleaned, you are encouraged to use “Dear Members of the Search Committee” rather than “To Whom it May Concern” in the cover letter salutation.

Make sure you sign your cover letter before mailing it.

Related Links: