How to write a great covering letter

“Bearing in mind the competitive nature of the teaching profession, first impressions are imperative and many applications may even be judged solely on the strength of the covering letter,” says James Innes, managing director of The CV Centre.

For this reason, education careers expert John Howson, recommends beginning the letter with a powerful statement: “Job applicants need to provoke the reader’s interest,” he says. However, what you leave out is just as important as what you put in, in order to keep the letter succinct and punchy.

To give you a hand with this crucial document, our panel, consisting of John Howson, The CV Centre and targetjobs.com.uk has contributed ideas for a sample covering letter outlining the structure and main points:

Name and address, on the right hand side of the page

Date, on the next line but starting on the left hand side

Name of recipient, (call the school to check the name spelling and title if you don’t have this)

Address of organisation.

Dear, (title and surname)

Include a reference to the job title/position and reference number

First paragraph   
This should be a strong statement outlining why you want to apply for the job and why at this school. For example, If the school has won a number of awards in certain areas, say “I want to work in a school that has won more awards for………” Say where you saw the job advertised. You could tell them here that you’ve enclosed your CV.

Second paragraph.
Do a little research on the school and tailor your letter by saying something specific, for example, naming the school’s strengths.  Expand on why you want to apply for this job and why at this school. 

Third paragraph
You could combine this with the second paragraph. Talk about your own strengths; why your knowledge and skills make you a strong candidate. Make a link between the school and you: where do its aims coincide with yours? Talk about any relevant experience and particular skills you have to offer. Back up your statements with hard evidence and refer to sections of your CV.

Fourth paragraph
Any other relevant points such as what you hope to gain from the job and how it fits into your career plans, or little extras you might want to mention such as any voluntary work or traveling you have done. Highlight any interests/roles or responsibility that are particularly relevant to the job on offer.

Final paragraph
Conclude positively; tone is very important. Tell them when you’ll be available for interview (and for work) and that you look forward to hearing from them. Remember to be brief: try to keep the entire covering letter to one side of A4.

Yours sincerely,

Your name

With thanks to John Howson, TES careers expert, The CV Centre and targetjobs.com.uk

Do you have tips for writing cover letters? Post below and let others know.