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Writing a successful cover letter

Overview

Summary: This guide offers tips and advice for writing a professional cover letter. It covers writing a cover letter from start to finish, including the salutation and sign off, letter content and format.

Topics you’ll cover:

> Tips on writing a cover letter

> Helpful sample cover letters

> Writing and formatting your cover letter

In the first two guides, we’ve looked at how to write about transferable skills in a TEFL-friendly way and writing TEFL resumes from scratch. In this one, we’re moving on to the next stage of the application process – writing a cover letter. When sending resumes to employers or recruiters, it’s common practice across all industries to accompany it with a cover letter. We’ll give you our top cover letter tips, analyse and improve on some sample cover letters, give you the tools you need to complete your own cover letter and then rate it against our criteria.

Top tips for writing a cover letter

So why do we need to write a cover letter? It’s an opportunity to expand on your resume  – you can develop your explanations about why you applied for that job in particular and you can do more to emphasise the match between your skills and the advert.

Cover letters also allow you to explain any difficulties that might count against your application, such as periods of unemployment, a lack of teaching experience or poor exam results. You can then turn these potential setbacks into positives by showing the employer how they demonstrate your determination to succeed. You may also want to disclose any health-related issues at this stage – but this is up to you.

Recruiters and employers may judge you on the quality of this letter. If they read the cover letter first, they may choose not to even open the resume.

It’s important to use formal English, correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, and a clear, easy-to-read appearance.

  • The cover letter shouldn’t be more than one page of A4.
  • Write with an appropriately formal style and check your spelling and grammar throughout.
  • Use a range of sentence structures – avoid starting every sentence with ‘I’.

For example, I worked in a bar for 6 months where I gained excellent interpersonal skills.

During 6 months of working in a bar, my interpersonal skills greatly improved and this received recognition from my managers.

  • Get a friend to check your letter before submitting it to any job applications.
  • Like with resumes, provide evidence for what you say – it’s not enough to list skills or claim that you’re ‘passionate about education’ if you can’t back it up.

close up of a table with someone writing in a book

Structuring a cover letter

Personal details

Use the layout and conventions of a formal letter, even if you’re sending it as a Word document online. You can include your address if you think it’s relevant.

Salutation

Where possible, address the letter to the employer, rather than Sir/Madam. Read the advert and the organisation’s website carefully for the name of an individual.

Introduction

Start your letter with a short introduction explaining why you are writing, in relation to the job advert you’ve seen. Give some details about where and when you saw the advertisement.

If you are only inquiring into job possibilities within the organisation, make it clear what type of work you are looking for.

Why are you a good candidate for this job?

Move on to the body of your letter. The most important thing to do here is ensure you relate everything you say to the job you’re applying for. Answer the question ‘why are you a good candidate for this specific job?’ relating it to your qualifications and experience. Don’t copy text exactly from your resume – reword and develop what you’ve said, focusing on your skills and how you developed them. Again, like your resume, it’s up to you whether you lead with your experience or qualifications – put whichever one you think is stronger first but keep it relevant to the skills listed in the job description. Show the employer how you will be an important and valuable member of their teaching team.

Finishing off

Finish the cover letter by reiterating why you are right for this particular job. You can also give your availability for interview and when you are able to start working. Then simply thank the employer for their time and sign off the letter. Use formal layout conventions when ending your letter too – using yours sincerely or yours faithfully as appropriately.

Sample cover letters

To help you to put our advice into practice, we’ve created a couple of sample cover letters for you to use, which follow our tips and advice. You can use these as a template to structure your own cover letter, but it doesn’t have to follow our order exactly. You might want to discuss your education/qualifications/employment first, then move on to something else. Your cover letter should present the relevant information about you in the best way possible.

⤓ Download resume example 1 (PDF)⤓ Download resume example 2 (PDF)

woman typing on a laptop computer

Create your own cover letter

The time has come to create your own cover letter. Use the tips and advice in the course to produce your own document. When you’re ready, click on the quiz below. Click the button below to download a sample cover letter as a Word Document, which you can edit with your own information. Remember to get a trusted friend to check your cover letter carefully before sending it out to any employers!

⤓ Access cover letter template (Google Docs)⤓ Download cover letter template (MS word)

When you’ve completed this document, use our Rate your Cover Letter document to ensure you have created a really good document with no key information missing.

⤓ Access rate your cover letter (Google Docs)⤓ Download rate your cover letter (MS word)

In this course, we’ve looked at the different techniques to communicate our experience and achievements to others in a way that will create a positive and professional impression. By reading sample cover letters and analysing them, you can get a better idea of what a TEFL recruiter is looking for.

We hope that you have found this article helpful in preparing your written application for a TEFL job. By this stage you should feel confident in your resume and cover letter! We hope that the document you have produced highlights how you and your dream job are the perfect match. In the next stage of this series, we’ll be looking at a more interactive and technological approach to job applications – introductory videos. See you there!

 

Continue reading about: Creating effective introductory videos »

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