question about cover letters..

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by luv2teach415, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. luv2teach415

    luv2teach415 Companion

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    I'm looking for a new teaching position in NYC. I'm applying to any type of school setting, but I do have a question. How long should a typical teaching cover letter be? In the cover letter, you would include your reasons for applying to the school, your education/certifications, and and something that shows what you do as a teacher (like a sample lesson description), right? Thanks!
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Connoisseur

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    My cover letters were typically three paragraphs when I was applying for jobs.

    Paragraph 1: brief statement of the position I am applying for

    Paragraph 2: longer paragraph highlighting my qualifications, related experience, and strengths that I can bring to the position

    Paragraph 3: brief statement reiterating the position I am interested in and thanking them for their time and consideration
     
  4. luv2teach415

    luv2teach415 Companion

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    Does the length matter if I'm also applying for the prestigious private schools in NYC?
     
  5. redtop

    redtop Companion

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    A cover letter doesn't have to be long at all. It should just give some idea why they should bother reading your resume.

    My wife's cover letter is 3 paragraphs. First is a brief intro "I'm interested in a position with Your School District" and third is "I look foward to hearing from you."

    The middle one says that she's been teaching for 8 years and where, lists her degrees, then her relevant test scores, then explains that she has her green card and can actually work here legally and wants to relocate permanently to the USA.

    The cover letter just has to achieve the relatively modest bar of showing that you do, or at least could, meet the minimum requirements of what they're looking for. They need to know that you actually have the credentials and training, are or can very easily get licensed, and have no barriers (like in my wife's case, since she's teaching abroad we have to make it clear that yes, she's street-legal in the USA).

    You might dress it up a little for particular things that would qualify you for the position. If you're applying for a public school and have private school experience, I might not say "I have 6 years experience dealing with overprivileged snot-nosed kids where I have to work to get their respect because I don't get driven to school in a limo every day." If applying for a private school I might not say "I have 6 years experience dealing with gang members where I have to get their respect to not bring their guns to class." I'm being facetious here, I'm just saying, it's OK for the cover letter to slip in a thing or two that will grab them. When I applied for a job working with property catastrophe reinsurance, I put in that I had recently worked as chief actuary of a company that was a major purchaser of property catastrophe reinsurance. When applying for a job that had nothing to do with that kind of insurance, I left it off.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Fratta415, if you rummage around this Job Seekers forum, you should find a number of threads that discuss actual cover letters. Some good advice has been dispensed there.

    The cover letter is NOT an additional resume; as redtop has noted, is intended to get someone interested enough in you to bother reading your resume and all that. It should fit on a single page, and it should give some flavor of who YOU are and what you bring to the table.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    I would not relist things that are on my resume, that's a waste of space. I think the resume is not personal at all, it's about data: degrees, experience, etc. The cover letter can be (should be) more personal.
     
  8. redtop

    redtop Companion

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    I disagree that the cover letter should be "personal."

    Just think of it this way. If you had 30 seconds to tell me why I should hire you, what would you say? Because that's in effect what you have. It's kind of a resume of a resume.

    If I were at a party and happened to be introducing my wife to someone hiring a foreign language teacher, I would say "Charlie, this is Mrs. Redtop, she has a masters in French and a BA in education, she's been teaching French for 8 years, and she's got really good test scores." In our case, I add in the cover letter that she has her green card. That's about all you need.

    If there's something that makes you particularly qualified for the job, or particularly interested, or that they might be unsure about from your resume, you can explain it quickly. I once received a cover letter from a guy who said "I'm paralyzed from the waist down due to a diving accident, but my health is excellent." (We interviewed him but didn't hire him.)

    Your cover letter is just there to get them to read your resume and not have to look for the important points.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    redtop, I'm afraid that your example undermines your conclusion: being paralyzed from the waist down is a fairly personal detail, and I'm willing to wager that it made the writer stand out among the herd of people applying for the position.

    Education is a highly relational field. A few members of A to Z have been in on the hiring process, and they've pretty unanimously reported that letters that skew toward the personal, in the sense of showing something of the applicant's personality and willingness to go the extra mile in the classroom, generate more interest than do recitations of degrees and test scores. Those of our Canadian members who have been involved in hiring have said the same.
     
  10. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    Redtop, basically all you did was list things that were in her resume, so what is the point of a cover letter then? A cover letter is NOT a resume of a resume.

    I think that the sooner you realize that your advice is not relevant to the education field, the better. The fact that you're ignoring the differences that exist between a teaching career/job search and yours is puzzling to me. I hope that you realize that in doing so, you actually might be preventing your wife from getting a teaching job here in the US.

    Do you know how many other candidates taught 8 years of French, had higher scores than your wife, are certified in that state, and have Masters degrees? She's a dime a dozen, hate to say. That generic cover letter that regurgitates everything that the potential employer can already read in her resume is not going to do her any favors.

    If you think that everything I'm saying is petty and ridiculous, that's your right...but this is the reality. You have to play the game, and if you're unwilling to do that, you're pretty much giving the other candidates a leg up.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :yeahthat:

    A cover letter should paint a picture of who the candidate is as a teacher...not the degrees and certifications, but a taste of that educator's passion, drive, philosophies. Schools are looking for a 'fit'. Teaching IS personal.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    If I had 30 seconds I would say that I meet all the minimum requirements and then list things that would make me stand out from the others. There are the more personal things, as they are specific about me. I wouldn't list 30 seconds listing the degrees, credentials and authorizations, because everyone else has those, they would not hire me just because of those.


    That's true, the cover letter's purpose is to have them look at your resume, but for most positions there are hundreds of cover letters + resumes. You have about 30 seconds to grab the reader's attention and make them want to see more before they throw your letter to the unwanted pile. Listing degrees will not make you stand out.
     
  13. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    If that's what your wife's cover letter says, I think it can hurt her job hunting. She stands out with her green card among all the US citizen applicants, but not in a good way. She doesn't need to emphasize the fact that she has a green card, I think it actually reminds the reader that she is from another country where things may be different, does she have the proper credential? etc etc. It actually turns it into a potential problem. I would not mention the green card. She's legally employable in the states. Great! So is everyone else. She can explain her status if they ask. Focus on her experience, but not with data, with something personal.
     
  14. redtop

    redtop Companion

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    I didn't mean to hijack this thread, but what SHOULD her cover letter say?

    We're trying to find some way to reconcile that she's been teaching in Toronto her whole career and why she has a North Carolina license but wants to teach in Texafornio.

    Technically I think they cannot discriminate against anyone who has the right to work here legally, except for jobs that require citizenship (for example, the Secret Service). Not that this would stop them from doing so surreptitiously.

    How do we explain just enough to get across the idea that it's not so weird that someone wants to move from Toronto to here to teach?
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    A yearning to return to the states? Relocation to be near family? Both are leitimate rationale.

    A cover can include an anecdote illustrating who the candidate is as a teacher...a breakthrough with a student, a dynamic collegial experience, a parent interaction, an ah ha moment...a story that highlights a particular skill or quality of the candidate.
     
  16. redtop

    redtop Companion

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    Her resume is still going to show that she has been in Canada for 14 years, and unless she has a license from the state she's applying to, she will have to show her North Carolina license. I suppose we could say that she has been living and working in Toronto, but wishes to relocate to the USA and does have the legal right to work here. I guess that would leave it vague as to whether she's a citizen or not.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    ...and as you know, without a license in states in which she is applying, she'll be considered less competitive than other highly qualified and experienced candidates who do.:sorry:
     
  18. MissD59

    MissD59 Comrade

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    She has the legal right, along with anyone who is certified in that state as well. Doesn't mean she's going to be hired. If you include that little fact in there "She does have the legal right to work here" I can see that leaving a bad taste in someone's mouth.
     

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