If you're looking for a new ed leadership job for the upcoming school year, now is the time to put together a cover letter that crushes it.
What do I mean by “it”? The competition. I hate to say it, but it's the truth.
Too many cover letters are milquetoast, run-of-the-mill statements of fact that do nothing—nothing—to get the applicant in the “yes” pile.
If you want to land your next admin job, you've got to ace the cover letter. (Read on for a free downloadable template)
The Cover Letter's Job
The cover letter's job is to get you into the “definitely interview” pile.
If your cover letter fails to do its job, the whole process stops. You're out of the running.
You can only write a solid cover letter if you understand its purpose. Your cover letter is NOT:
- An explanation of the simple fact that you exist and are interested in the position
- A narrative restatement of your résumé
- A note to the reader that you possess the minimum legal requirements for the position
No, no, and no! Cover letters that only cover the basics don't give the reviewer any useful information. They fail to do their job…so you fail to get your job.
Don't Be Perfunctory—Sell Yourself
This is hard for us to do as educators, but in your cover letter, you've got to sell yourself as hard as you ever will.
This doesn't mean that you:
- Brag or boast
- Make unsupported claims
- Explicitly say that you're the best person for the job
…but you need to make the reader come to the inevitable conclusion that you're the best person for the job.
I've read tons of cover letters that waste space with perfunctory, vague, and ultimately worthless niceties that fill the page, but don't help the reader fill the job.
Understand that you're actually doing the reader a favor by making a clear, strong case about yourself. Most of the time, reading cover letters is a total waste of time for the person reviewing applications, because they don't actually say anything enlightening about the applicant—and as a result, they all sound the same.
This is a mistake to avoid, but it's also a huge opportunity for you. Write a strong cover letter that sells your candidacy, and you'll stand out above the rest.
Don't Duplicate Your Résumé—Bring It To Life
The place to list your certifications, degrees, and years of experience is in the résumé. Your cover letter has a different job.
When it comes to qualifications, your cover letter should:
- Connect the dots for the reader—always explain how the qualifications you're highlighting actually make a difference. For example, “My extensive experience working with teachers as an instructional coach has allowed me to develop both the expertise and the relationship-building skills that it takes to be a principal who is truly an instructional leader.”
- NEVER mention minimum qualifications, e.g. “I have a beginning principal's certificate from XYZ university”. Nothing screams “rookie!” like a cover letter that brags about meeting the job's minimum requirements.
- Frame your qualifications in terms of benefits for the organization, and especially for its students, e.g. “My passion for restorative justice compelled me to lead the development of a behavior intervention program that reduced out-of-school suspensions by 63%.”
In other words, don't just share facts that are in your résumé (and certainly don't share facts that don't make you stand out).
Tell a story. Put the picture together for the reader, so they see how qualified you really are, and what a good fit you'd be.
For another take on your cover letter, check out this episode of Principal Center TV:
Download My Ultimate Cover Letter Template
I've created a simple, one-page template for you to follow as you craft your competition-crushing cover letter.
It's not a fill-in-the-blank deal—in fact, you won't be using any of my words. But you'll have a paragraph-by-paragraph guide to what your letter should accomplish.
Sample Cover Letter for an Education Position
How to Compose a Cover Letter for Your Education Job Application
Your cover letter will be the first impression you give to the hiring manager. Don’t presume your resume will speak for itself, especially if you are applying for a competitive job in education. The goal of your cover letter is to make you stand out from the rest of the applicants, and there are several ways to draft a letter that will do just that in a concise way.
See below for a sample cover letter for an education position and tips for what to include in your letter.
Before You Write Your Cover Letter
There is some prep work you should do before you write your letter. Research the school or organization that is hiring. You can use what you learn to personalize your letter. This will show that you wrote the cover letter specifically for the position they are looking to fill, and you are interested enough in the job to learn about the educational institution ahead of time. While you are researching, try to find out who exactly will be reviewing your resume.
Often, it is the head of human resources or a hiring manager, or it could be the principal of the school. Sometimes this information can be found online, within the job listing, or you may be able to contact the school using the phone number or email address provided in the job posting.
What to Include in the Cover Letter
Use a writing style that is less formal than your resume when writing your cover letter; try to show your personality.
The mission of your cover letter is to highlight you, your skills, and your accomplishments and to show your sincere interest in filling the position.
If you can find a contact person, address the person by name in the greeting of your letter.
Following the salutation, the first paragraph should include a thank you for taking the time to review your resume.
Also, explain why you are hoping to land the position and specifically name the job title in which you are applying.
Think of one or two notable reasons you feel you would be a good fit for the position. Do not be bashful and be honest; you want to come across as confident and earnest.
In the second paragraph, talk about your education and previous experiences that make you the ideal candidate for the position they are looking to fill.
Finally, the third paragraph is your closing few statements. Express your enthusiasm for the job and how you feel it will be the ideal fit. It is also okay to be assertive and say something like, “I look forward to being contacted for an interview.”
If you are sending a hard copy cover letter with your resume, don’t forget to sign it.
Here's more information on what to include in a cover letter.
Below is an example cover letter focused on an education position, you can see some of the tips mentioned above used within this letter.
Sample Cover Letter for an Education Position
87 Washington Street
Smithfield, CA 08055
Mr. John Doe
Smithfield Elementary School
Smithfield, CA 08055
Dear Mr. Doe,
Thank you for taking the time to review my resume. I am applying for the Prevention Educator position because I am looking to use my degree in Elementary Education, in combination with my Concentration in Sociology, in an alternative way to a traditional teaching position.
I have had the opportunities to work with children and adults of all ages and abilities while I was student teaching for XXX College, substitute teaching in local districts, working as a Museum Educator, and as the assistant trainer at a local riding stable.
I am seeking a career that will allow me to continue working with people in many different ways. I hope you will find that I am qualified for the position you are trying to fill.
If I can provide you with any further information on my background and qualifications, please let me know.
I look forward to hearing from you. I can be reached at 555-111-1234 or via email at email@example.com.
Again, I appreciate you taking the time to review my resume.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Sending an Email Cover Letter
If you're sending your cover letter via email, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message. Include your contact information in your email signature, and don't list the employer contact information. Start your email message with the salutation.
More Sample Cover Letters
Cover letter samples and templates for a variety of career fields and employment levels, including entry-level, targeted and email cover letters for many different jobs.