Cover letters for job fairs

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by bison, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Mar 25, 2015

    So, I tried searching but there are SO many threads about cover letters.

    I've always thought (and searches confirm) that a cover letter tells the recipient that you are expressing interest in that specific job and why/how you will be able to perform the job based on your experiences. I'm about to start working on a cover letter for an upcoming job fair and was just wondering how to pull this off. For two districts, I'm going to attempt to write something a little bit more tailored but still general as they don't have a ton of info about their philosophies online and I have no idea what grade level they're hiring for. My main question is how to approach the general, generic cover letter for everyone else. Does anyone have examples or suggestions for phrasing on this? What to tell them besides my experience so far?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Mar 26, 2015

    The very generic letter does pose challenges of its own, bison.

    Let's assume you're a devotee of the rough format that Aliceacc and I have recommended over the years for the job-specific letter. The first paragraph begins with "I am applying for ___ in ___ district" and then notes something about the district, by way of proving one has done some research. Each of the subsequent paragraphs lays out a characteristic that suit the applicant for the job and, preferably, tells an anecdote in which the applicant's use of said characteristic brings about an "Aha!" moment for a stuck student. The last paragraph indicates availability to be contacted, and can probably stay the same from letter to letter; one might do well to have more than one paragraph 2, 3, etc. so that one can swap in an attribute and anecdote that are particularly appropriate to the job or district or both.

    In other words, the letter is functionally a short essay on the theme "Why your district should hire me." Each paragraph develops a topic within that theme, and the anecdotes are evidence.

    I recommend anecdotes because experience indicates that telling stories is where most applicants' writing stops being formulaic and buzzword-laden and starts to come alive; the buzzwords that come up in the course of an anecdote come across less like buzzwords and more like appropriate use of the teacherly lingua franca.

    Is this the only way to write a cover letter? Heck, no. But it tends to work, or at least to give one some idea where to start. And it helps an applicant's own authentic voice come through, and that voice is much likelier to get a search committee's attention than any number of piled-higher-and-deeper buzzwords.

    But any given writer's mileage may vary.

    For a job fair, I might recommend writing more than one letter if you expect to apply for more than one distinct type of job or to more than one distinct type of school. A cover letter for special ed positions in high school should differ from a cover letter for early education pre-K. In place of the notes about the specific district or school in paragraph 1, a job-fair letter could substitute an analogous statements about some bit of news or some issue that's germane to the state or the part of the state in question; that's a little more challenging, but there's usually some kind of education authority for the region in which the job fair is taking place, and that authority probably has a Web site with some mention of the authority's mission statement, some list of breaking news, and perhaps even some mention of specific concerns.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Mar 30, 2015

    Thanks so much, TeacherGroupie. Very helpful post. I ended up writing three cover letters: two specific to districts I wanted to apply to, and one general elementary teaching. Unfortunately the job fair was very general and just "education" themed. No specific jobs or anything posted beforehand. It was great for people who are looking to relocate, but that's not in the cards for me this year. I did get some bites though and I feel optimistic about the upcoming next hiring season. It's still a little early for most of the big districts around here. :)

    My one big misstep was getting a little nervous when things started going really well and completely forgetting to look at name tags before it was too late, so I can't send followup emails. D'oh. Also sweaty handshakes. Note to future people searching: get the names before you start talking!
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Mar 30, 2015

    Glad my thoughts proved useful, bison. At worst, you can treat this as a practice job fair.
     

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