Writing an Effective Cover Letter

A cover letter should accompany your resume when you mail, e-mail or fax it to employers. The cover letter serves as your introduction, explaining who you are and why you are sending the resume. The cover letter generally should be no more than one page (except in higher education or for those with advanced degrees where it can be two or more pages -- as long as it doesn't ramble) and should consist of the parts outlined below in the example construction.

Your address (no name)
Their Name, Title & Address
Dear (insert HR director or principal name (Dr./Ms./Mrs. Last Name); NOT sir/madam or 'to whom it may concern'):
Opening Introduction Paragraph: Mention what position you're interested in, how you heard of it, any relevant people connections that may mean something to them and why this position or particular school/school system appeals to you, a great place to bring in your research about them!
Body Paragraph(s): Sell yourself. This is your opportunity to draw attention to your resume but NOT reiterate it. Highlight points you feel make you marketable for the job, link achievements/skills/qualifications to job requirements. Tell the reader your strengths and the three or four reasons why he/she would hire you. Provide concrete examples (but not too detailed!).
Close: 'next step:' phase. Let the reader know what your next step will be: how you can be contacted and/or how and when you will follow up. Be assertive. Request a meeting or an interview and let them know you will be back in touch (only if you will contact them). Thank them for their time.
(don't forget to sign if mailing via the postal service)
Your Name Typed Out

Steps to Follow

  • Grab the Reader's Attention
  • Use quality printing, stationery and envelopes (consider large manilla ones so that you don't have to fold)
  • Generate Interest with Content
  • Use name of individual to whom you are applying
  • Research organization; demonstrate that research in letter
  • Turn Interest into Desire
  • Tie your skills to their needs
  • Highlight achievements/special contributions/areas of expertise
  • Turn Desire into Action
  • Make it clear that you want to talk/interview
  • Explain when, where, and how you can be contacted OR better yet, be proactive depending on how you contacted them
  • Follow-up (call to ensure they received all needed materials, to ask if they need any additional information to consider you a candidate, and ask about their interviewing/hiring timetable)