When ESL employers are looking to recruit ESL teachers, they will obviously pay close attention to teachers’ CVs (résumés): what a lot of trainee and novice ESL teachers may overlook is the importance that is attached to the cover letter.
A cover letter is your opportunity to showcase your skills and talents and present a cogent argument in support of your application for the ESL teaching post. For some employers, all other things taken into consideration, more stress is laid on the cover letter than on the contents of your CV.
Here are ten tips on how to write a better cover letter.
1. As you are applying for work, your cover letter will have to be written in a formal register. Don’t make it sound too stiff, however; you aren’t living in the nineteenth century.
2. Ensure that your grammar, punctuation, and syntax are very good, and avoid ‘flowery’ language and hackneyed phrases. Don’t forget – you are applying for an ESL teaching post.
3. Make sure that your cover letter is formatted as a business letter.
4. All well written-letters (including email letters) should be clear, concise, and polite.
5. Don’t forget to use the correct salutations and subscriptions: the salutation Dear Sir or Dear Madam has Yours faithfully as a subscription; the salutation Dear Mr. / Mrs. has Yours sincerely.
6. Don’t make your cover letter sound like a summary of your CV; this is a guaranteed recipe for rejection.
7. Make sure that you write a title underneath your salutation, e.g. ‘Letter of application for the post of ESL teacher at the ABC school’. You should also underline the title, and ensure that the title clearly states the teaching post that you are applying for. The school administration will no doubt have to sift through a lot of mail; the title will quickly help to direct your correspondence to the correct department.
8. In the first paragraph, you should briefly explain the nature of your correspondence and introduce yourself and your current situation as it concerns ESL teaching.
9. The next two or three paragraphs should be concerned with advertising yourself as the best ESL teacher for the post: you should highlight your strong points and what you can bring to the job and the school. Your cover letter should show you to be motivated, enthusiastic and confident.
10. The last paragraph should contain an expression of gratitude for the employer’s consideration of your application, and you should try to end with a closing comment that will remain in the employer’s mind; for example, a quotation that is relevant to your job application.