Once you’ve put together a stand-out TEFL CV ( thanks to our CV guide! ) it’s time to write an equally stand-out cover letter. A cover letter is a crucial part of the job application process and can make the difference between being a good candidate, and a stand-out candidate.
Your cover letter is an opportunity to convince an employer that you’re the perfect fit for the role, so it should really show off your strengths and enthusiasm for teaching English as a foreign language.
Writing about yourself isn’t always the easiest thing to do, so that’s why we’ve put together these tips for writing a brilliant cover letter for any teaching job. We’ve also taken some advice from our friend Carl, whose cover letter seminar on YouTube is required viewing!
It sounds obvious, but if you’re applying for a company, you’ve got to research them. You need to make it clear that you already have an understanding of what they do and what they offer, otherwise, they won’t be inclined to believe you’re suitable for the role.
It’s important for every cover letter to be tailored to that particular position – if your letter sounds impersonal and vague then that’s a surefire way of it ending up in the bin. Doing some background research will allow you to talk about what it is that attracted you to the role and why you think you’d be a good fit.
Then, before you start to write your cover letter, read the job description properly. Read and reread it, asking yourself questions like “am I right for the role?”, “what suitable experience do I have?”.
You should always try to find out the name of the person handling the job applications. If this isn’t listed in the job advert, you can contact the company to ask for a name or do a bit of research online.
If you don’t know the name and can’t get this information then ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ are common alternatives you can use. Start the email friendly, says Carl, with a message like “Hope you’re having a nice day” - this leaves a good initial impression.
Then, state your intentions. Why are you getting in touch? You’re applying for a job - once you’ve addressed the letter properly, say where you saw the job advert, and make it clear you’re applying for that job.
Outline how you match the job description. Pick out top qualities that are stated in the job advert/job specification and provide evidence to back them up.
For example, if you are trying to show you have ‘great communication skills’ support this with evidence from previous employment or a University course. Perhaps you have experience delivering presentations or working successfully in a team where communicating regularly was vital. Make sure you’re not just repeating what’s on your CV.
In some ways, it helps to think of the cover letter as a puzzle. You have the pieces that fit, whether it’s a specific qualification or an attribute from your career or education (with evidence and examples). The job description should be your guide here - TEFL Org tutor Carl says it’s best to either print out the job description and use it, or have it in a separate window or screen on your computer.
Yes, qualifications are great and a requirement for most jobs, however, employers want to hear about your skills and experience too. Remember, your qualifications are already listed in your CV so you don’t need to point them out again unless you’re going into more detail.
If you have a TEFL qualification and have completed a classroom course then you can talk about the skills you gained specifically from the classroom course. Do you have experience working with children? Or experience in training or giving presentations? Anything relevant to the position should be included.
Ensure that your cover letter and CV are typed in an easy-to-read font (don’t try getting fancy here!) and are presented clearly. In your cover letter, make sure to use proper paragraphs, and if you’ve written too much to put on one side of A4 (or whatever the employer is insisting upon for the length of a cover letter), don’t squeeze it all in with a tiny font.
Neatness includes making sure that your text is coherent. If you’ve got too much text, you can afford to get rid of a few sentences that are superfluous. We’ll cover this more in point 7.
This webinar takes you through how to construct and what you need to include in your cover letter to get you through to the next stage of your TEFL job application. Webinar host, TEFL Org tutor Carl, has years of teacher training and teacher recruitment experience so knows exactly what skills, qualifications and qualities schools and recruiters look for in applicants.
Always, always, always check your spelling and grammar multiple times – even if you’ve used a spell checker or a tool like Grammarly !
Employers won’t be particularly impressed with an English teacher whose cover letter is full of mistakes. What kind of teacher are they getting if they bring someone in who can’t spell check a document properly? It doesn’t bode well at all!
Your cover letter needs to be concise and to the point – absolutely no waffling!
Keep it to one side of A4 and make sure everything included is necessary and you’re not just repeating what’s already listed on your CV. You’re trying to sell yourself for a specific job role, you’re not telling your life story. Think of the job description as a list of items to tick off - if you’ve done that, then you’ve got enough.
We already mentioned this at the beginning, but it bears repeating. You need to tailor the letter to suit the position that you are applying for. Show that you have made an effort – employers will be able to tell instantly if you’ve just sent the same letter to ten different people.
Having a template to work from isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re writing a lot of cover letters and not getting interviews, then it probably means you aren’t personalising your cover letters enough. Yes, it can feel like a lot of effort, but it really makes a difference.
Consider this: if it was you in the employer’s position, you’d want something interesting to read, that ticks all the boxes and has specific interest in your company or institution.
When companies are recruiting they can sometimes be working through a high volume of applications and many of those will sound exactly the same. Stand out by being yourself, a cover letter shouldn’t be dull – inject some personality in there!
This should be right at the top of your cover letter. Give the employer options of how to contact you including your email address, telephone number, Skype handle, etc. You do not need to include your age or home address.
This should be short and to the point. You should include why you are writing the letter, what position you are applying for and where you found the job advert.
The next two or three paragraphs should state why you are applying for the position. What attracted you to the role? Why are you interested in working for the company?
Why do you think you are suitable for the job? What professional/academic qualifications do you have that are relevant to the role?
Make sure you refer to the skills/qualifications listed in the job description. You need to show the employer what you can bring to the company.
Your final paragraph should reiterate your interest in the role and why you think you are right for this specific position.
Specify your desire for an interview – you can add when you’re available for an interview and when you can start working. Finish by thanking the employer, stating that you look forward to a response.
The next stage will hopefully be an interview with the employer! And you can prepare for that by reading our Five Common Interview Questions blog post.