Please let me know what you think (Cover letter)

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by historical_soul, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. historical_soul

    historical_soul Rookie

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    Apr 27, 2010

    Hello again!

    I just want to say that I am very happy I finally stopped lurking on this forum. The few questions I have asked have been answered thoughtfully and I appreciate that during this stressful job search. I'm glad there are so many of you here to support us newbies.

    So I finally decided to ask for help on my cover letter. I've been through a number of drafts, and this is an updated version from last year's. I'm always in need of good English nuts to catch grammar and spelling mishaps, but most of all I need to hear what parts of the letter need work. So hold nothing back!

    My current concerns are whether the letter is too vague and if I need more about my actual teaching, but since it is my own work I'm likely to miss faults despite my reflections. I also think it might be too long...

    Thank you in advance! Now I'll stop rambling and show you the letter.

    (insert various addresses/headings here)

    Dear (whomever);

    Greetings! My name is Jessica and I wish to apply for the position of “name of position”. After searching for a position online your district came to my attention. (Here I would address the school's goals/mission statement and how it fits with my educational philosophy) As a new social studies educator looking for a place to provide the best education for students of all ability and levels, I believe I am a fantastic fit for your schools. (Again, this part might change depending on the mission/goals and all)

    As a recent graduate of "blank" College, I have a strong foundation in history and educational theory. I spent the last four years surrounded by tangible history*, and it had a huge impact on the numerous classroom opportunities the "blank" College Department of Education offered to me during my undergraduate studies. I spent over 60 hours in various classroom internships before my student teaching semester, which included all kinds of history classes ranging from grades 6 to 12. I also have a full background in various extracurricular activities that have made me a more well-rounded teacher. It is not uncommon for me to use period costumes, tools, art, music, and film to make my classroom more interactive, engaging, and culturally relevant to my students.

    I have observed and worked in rural and suburban districts through college, and had a wonderful summer experience teaching inner-city middle school students as a lead teacher. The Breakthrough Collaborative of Greater Philadelphia, the summer program with which I worked, gave me the opportunity to teach different subjects such as Biology and web design, and allowed me to organize student activities, coordinate hallway projects and art, and plan trips to museums and important areas of Philadelphia and Washington D.C. My student teaching experience took place in a high school that included the Macbook loan program which gave every student and teacher access to a laptop. Technology was a large part of my student teaching experience. I not only taught history, but had almost every primary source imaginable available at my student's fingertips. I also taught students how to use computer in their assessments, which included power point, web design, podcasts, videos, music, comic editors, excel, and class-wikis.

    I am currently certified to teach in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Texas. However, these certifications are not the limit. One of the best experiences an educator can have is to live and teach in new areas. I plan to move to (location of school) and am able and eligible for pursue certification (This is only if I do not currently have the certification). Please feel free to call me at (cell phone number), or email me at "myemail". I can interview in person with a few weeks notice, or can do a phone or internet interview. I look forward to speaking with you and becoming a part of the “name of school” family!

    Respectfully,

    My name

    * My college is home to a famous battlefield, hence this part. Just wanted to clarify. :)
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 27, 2010

    Too wordy. A cover letter should not exceed one page in length, and it doesn't need to list your certificates.

    Am I correct that you'd be applying for a secondary position teaching history/social science? If so, focus your letter on that. If that's one among several options, you may need a different letter for each.
     
  4. historical_soul

    historical_soul Rookie

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    Apr 28, 2010

    Being wordy is one of my problems, but is it the entire letter? Or just the part about certification? The only reason I have it is because I'm applying to every opening possible and want to show that getting certification isn't a concern. Still, if you think a resume will make that clear enough I'll change it. Even with the proper heading this letter is less than a page, but just barely. I'll look into parts I can cut.

    I am applying for secondary positions in social studies, and not all schools are upfront about what subject the opening is for, so I tend to stick with history unless otherwise stated. Social science is tricky depending on the state. Pennsylvania claims I certified in it, but Texas does not. How do you suggest I focus the letter moreso on that?
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 28, 2010

    To be honest, I tuned out after the the first paragraph. Its way too wordy. A good cover letter is like a good commercial: short, sweet, and makes the reader want to read your resume. You don't need to re-hash your resume, you need to get somebody to read your actual resume.

    For example, you say the different states in which you are certified, but take several lines to do so. All you really need to say is "I hold certifications in several states and am willing to obtain __________ certification if needed." Even then, if you're applying for a position in a state that you're already certified, all you need to say is "I have a _______ certification in <state>.

    If you use a one size fits all cover letter, your reader will know that, and will be less than impressed. They're more likely to look more closely at a candidate who write a unique cover letter for that specific position.
     
  6. historical_soul

    historical_soul Rookie

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    Apr 28, 2010

    I do change my cover letters depending on the position, but I like to have a basic framework because there just isn't enough time to write a brand new cover letter for every job. I wish I could do unique cover letters for every position, but life has me subbing and working two part-time jobs. The entire first paragraph is subject to change based on the school mission. I guess I need to reflect those changes in other parts of the letter?

    And it is too wordy. I'm in the process of cutting out excess words and stuff that is repeated in my resume. Thanks for your feedback!
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 28, 2010

    Think about it this way: Do you have time to NOT do it? How many people are applying for those same possitions? Do you want to be one of the masses, or the person who stands out?
     
  8. historical_soul

    historical_soul Rookie

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    Apr 28, 2010

    I don't mean to come off as someone complaining over "not having the time." I'm just pointing out there are limitations to what people can do, and that goes for all us job seekers. None of us are in ideal positions in life, hence why we're doing this. We pull out all the stops we can considering the situations.

    The realist in me prefers having a basic framework to change and shift with each district. Is that too limiting? There is some information that will be in every cover letter, but if I'm depending on that too much, I'll try working it out from scratch for the next few applications. We'll see how it goes. :)
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 28, 2010

    "Us job seekers"? We've all been there. For me, it was just recently...as in I started my current position in Feb. And yes, I took the time to write individualized letters...for a few thousand positions.

    Of course a basic framework can, and should be there. But that's just a starting point. I've been on many hiring committees. I know just how fast a resume gets thrown away when the cover letter is too long, or sounds like its one size fits all. If you couldn't take the time to write something specifically to me, then I didn't have the time to read your resume. It's harsh, and it's not fair, but life isn't fair. That's just the way it is.
     

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