Teacher Career Preparation (Part I – Cover Letters and Resumes)

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This is a two part series of our best advice for aspiring teachers who are in search of their first teaching position. This information is provided by Jeffco Public Schools, Golden, Colorado.

First and foremost, be certain you read the posted job description and only apply for positions for which you are qualified, and meet your professional ambitions, passion and expectations. Ask yourself, is this position a great fit for you and could you be a great fit for this position? Many school districts use systems and processes to match teacher attributes with school-specific criteria. Do you match the school specific-criteria and needs? Before applying, do your homework for every position for which you may have an interest. Get to know the school mission, vision, culture, community and demographics by researching their website and through other searchable options via the internet. Many schools take pride and brand themselves by emphasizing their success through specialized programs, achievements and learning cultures.

Preparing your resume and cover letter is your first step in the application process. You will want to make sure that anything submitted in your application is grammatically correct, error free and presented professionally. Keep in mind that Principals want to find the most important information very quickly as they screen applications. Many Principals will spend less than 60 seconds conducting their first screening of candidates’ application materials. Catching their attention with presenting what they are looking for during their quick review can make or break your opportunity for additional consideration.

Highlighting your credentials and relevant experiences are the two most important pieces of information in your resume. Regardless of the formatting you use, make certain that this critical information is easy to find on your resume. Avoid the use of anything that distracts Principals from being able to find the most critical information. Your resume should have a professional appearance with proportional and appropriate alignment, formatting, margins, etc. Clever and creative formatting and graphics are nice if it contributes to assisting Principals with being able to learn about your credentials and relevant experiences. If using a template make certain that no remnants of the template remain on your final resume. Your resume may be up to two pages including references.

If you plan to include references on your resume or as a separate document, anyone listed should be people who can speak to your ability and potential as a teacher. You may want to consider cooperating teachers, university student teaching/practicum coordinators, university instructors and supervisors of educationally-related experiences (voluntary or paid positions).

Only list people who know you and who are willing to speak highly of you as a candidate for employment. You only need to include your references’ name, title or position, and contact information (phone number and email address).

Cover letters need to be written specifically to schools and positions for which you are applying. Address your letter to the Principal of the school. Your cover letter is your opportunity to introduce yourself, express your interest and sell yourself as the best candidate for the position and school. Be succinct yet expressive of your abilities, relevant experiences, philosophy and most importantly, your passion for teaching! Specifically explain why you want to teach in the school for which you are applying and express your attributes, skills and abilities that will be beneficial to the school. Include what makes you the best candidate for the position. Request an opportunity for an interview or additional consideration and be certain to thank the Principal for considering your candidacy. Your cover letter should be no more than one page.

Your resume and cover letter in most cases is your first opportunity to showcase your candidacy for your first teaching position. Sell yourself, provide critical information related to your credentials and experiences, and be genuine with your approach and presentation. This is your time to shine, create an authentic impression of who you are and what you have to contribute! Use these first steps in the career preparation process to present the best of you! Best wishes with all of your educational endeavors!

Part II – Interviewing skills coming soon!