Cover letters - are they even read?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by Jerseygirlteach, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Jul 14, 2012

    I see a lot of critiquing of cover letters here. I'm a bit intimidated by how good some of you are at critiquing and I don't trust myself to be expert enough to comment so I don't. :whistle: I'm impressed, though!

    My question for those of you in the know is - Are they really even read? Here's why I'm asking.

    I had to interview for my own position yesterday (see my previous post if you don't know my situation. :rolleyes:) and I saw stacks and stacks of hundreds of resumes on a table. Some people tried to get really creative using decorative paper, colors, etc. One packet even had a big lollipop attached to it. Knowing my superintendent, I'm not so sure how that went over. :) They were also of very different lengths. Some were very brief and some extremely wordy. All were highlighted by the HR person where the applicant stated what position they were seeking.

    I have to wonder if anyone is reading them or if they're just sorted by position and the resume is getting a quick scan to see if they have what is being sought. I'm sure if the applicant makes it into the "maybe" pile, the cover letter is at least scanned, but I seriously doubt someone is reading the cover letters of every single applicant.

    Also, quick anecdote. One time, I made a glaring grammatical mistake on a thank you note. I think I said something along the lines of "I would welcome the opportunity to be teach at your school." Oops - I was in a rush to get it in that day's mail and I didn't proofread. I only realized it later because I had typed it and it was saved on my computer. In the end, I was offered the job anyway so I wonder if anyone reads that as well.

    What do you think?
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I know for a fact my CL was not read for the first position I got. One, I applied at 3 am when I was having a quarter-life crisis freaking out that I was never ever going to get a teaching job and would end up living with my parents and lifeguarding for the next 10 years. I had made several mistakes on the CL, including getting the name of the school wrong and writing the wrong position (I wish I were kidding). Even if somehow my P were to get past that, in my interview she seemed really surprised about some things I told her which were pretty prominent in my CL. For example, I wrote all about how I also had a gen ed background and that I'd minored in Spanish, and when I told her this in the interview it was clear it was new information. When I've been on the interview committee we only reviewed resumes. At my new school, I'm not sure if they read it or not!
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 14, 2012

    We read them.

    And the stack of packages in the same space where interviews are inducted is bad form.

    And the lollipop package would have mostly likely ended up in the 'no' pile in my district.
     
  5. Rainbowbird

    Rainbowbird Groupie

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    Jul 14, 2012

    A lollipop! OMG!

    I was on a hiring committee once and we did read them. I know my husband's school reads them. But I think it's good to interview under the assumption that it might not have been read, and be sure to answer everything completely even if you are afraid of repeating the same information. Also I would not sell yourself short on editing other people's letters. You could prob. make some very good suggestions. I am an experienced teacher and have done a good bit of writing for my employers inside and out of education, but writing your own letter is harder than helping other people with theirs.
     
  6. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Jul 14, 2012

    My last cover letter was read. The superintendent, assistant superintendent, and the principal all commented on my anecdote.
     
  7. Jen84

    Jen84 Companion

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    Jul 14, 2012

    I think it depends on the school. One principal brought up the stories I wrote about in my cover letter during the interview. Another principal acted as though she had never read my cover letter or resume.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 14, 2012

    When I was interviewing, I read them.

    To tell you the truth, I trust them more than resumes. Teacher resumes all tend to contain the same basic information. But the cover letter gives me a bit of a hint as to the person I'm interviewing.
     
  9. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Jul 14, 2012

    When I've worked on the interview committees, I've read them. :)
     
  10. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Jul 15, 2012

    Yes, they read them. I mentioned something about my journalism background, and the person at HR told me she Googled my name and read some of my articles !
     
  11. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jul 15, 2012

    Maybe not every district reads them (or maybe some wait until later in the hiring process), but I know that many districts do read them. They may not be read by the person interviewing you, but instead by the person choosing who to interview. They also may be read and deemed worthy of an interview and then forgotten. If a P reads 5 or more, how is he/she going to really remember what that person wrote by the time of the interview (unless she/he rereads them right before the interview).
     
  12. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Jul 15, 2012

    I know my principal reads cover letters. She has referred to them in interviews to ask the interviewee to explain things to her, such as experience with programs she is unfamiliar with.
     
  13. TeachTN

    TeachTN Comrade

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    Jul 15, 2012

    Reminds me of the poster who mentioned that the interviewee brought sweets to the interview! As much as I want to stand out, I wouldn't add food of any kind to my resume packet.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 15, 2012

    In fact, another example of a cover letter that was read:

    When I was applying for jobs 6 years ago, I sent one that began: "Dear Tom, I'm not sure you remember me..."

    Tom had been the Speech and Debate coach of his school many years prior, when I first started teaching. As another coach, of course I called him by his first name. Now, several decades later, he was the principal.

    I agonized for about half an hour about whether to call him "Mr. Smith" or "Tom" in the letter (and later admitted that to him; we shared a good laugh.)

    Anyway, he greeted me with "Oh, sure, I remember you!!!"
     
  15. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Jul 15, 2012

    Also, I don't know how well bribes (lollipops, sweets brought to interview) would go over. You either have what the school is looking for or you don't. Someone's desire to brown nose their way into a position would probably backfire.
     
  16. e6789

    e6789 Rookie

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    Jul 15, 2012

    The P in one of the interviews I went on didn't even read my resume far enough to know that I completed a practicum at her school. She asked me, "Do you know where our school is?" during my phone call. It was hard for me not to laugh, but I managed. :) This P also was unaware that I currently had my own PreK classroom, right down the road. She did open the interview expressing how excited she was about my credentials and reference checks. She was a very sweet lady.

    There were also other interviews that the questions seemed very specific to my experience.

    Point of the story: what they focus on varies.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 15, 2012

    For what it's worth: it's entirely possible that a principal read your cover on Tuesday morning and instructed his secretary to set up an interview.

    By the following Monday, he's also read 25 others and instructed his secretary to set up 6 other interviews. And dealt wtih 3 fights, 3 cases of Pinkeye, 4 angry parents, spoken to a newspaper abotu the new reading program, found out a teacher is pregnant and needs a Long Term Sub, realized that state funding has been slashed and he needs to come up with money he doesn't have, and dealt with a flood when the oil burner broke.

    While we're concentrating on the job search, it's the MOST IMPORTANT thing in our lives. For those on the hirng end, it's part of a typical day at work.
     

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