So, you have found a TEFL job that’s exactly what you are looking for and you are ready to apply, but where do you start?
As well as a great CV, you should always send a well written cover letter (unless stated otherwise on the job description). A cover letter allows you to highlight your strengths stated on your CV in more depth, and should make it clear to the employer why they should hire you.
These Top Tips will help you write a great cover letter and hopefully land you your dream TEFL job!
Do some research into the company you are applying to. You need to make it clear that you know what the company does. You may wish to tell them what you like about the company, what attracts you to them etc.
2) Address the letter to the correct person
You should always try to find out the name of the person handling the job applications. If this is not listed in the job advert, you can phone the company to ask for a name. If you know the name of the person, then use Dear Mr ‘Smith’ or Dear Mrs ‘Smith.‘ If you do not know the name and cannot get this information then you can use Dear Sir or Dear Madam.
3) Provide evidence of your qualities
Pick out your top qualities (included in your CV) that are stated in the job advert/job specification and provide evidence to back these qualities 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 of delivering presentations or working successfully in a team where communicating regularly was vital.
4) Don’t just focus on your qualifications
Yes, qualifications are great and often a requirement for many jobs, however employers want to hear about your skills and experience too. So, don’t forget to highlight these alongside your qualifications. If you have a TEFL qualification and have completed a classroom course – what skills did you gain from the classroom course? Do you have experience of working with children? Any skill or experience that is relevant to the position and that can enhance your application should be included.
5) Have a neat and well-presented cover letter
Ensure that your CV is typed in an easy-to-read font and is presented in a way that is presentable and simple to follow.
Always double check your spelling and grammar – even if you have used Spellcheck! Employers will be put off by a cover letter that has not been proofread and that is full of spelling errors and mistakes.
7) Keep it brief
Do not go on and on providing information that is not necessary. Keep it to the point and keep it concise – one side of A4 is sufficient.
8) Write individual cover letters for each position you apply for
You need to tailor the letter to suit the position that you are applying for. Show that you have made an effort – employers will know if you have just sent the same letter to ten different people.
9) Include your cover letter in the main body of your email
If sending via email – include your cover letter into your email rather that adding it as an attachment. This will stop your email from being detected by spam filters and getting sent straight to the employers ‘junk’ folder.
10) Be sure to include your contact details
Give the employer options of how to contact you, including email address, telephone number, skype details etc.
Layout of Cover Letter
Opening the Letter
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.
Main content of letter
The next two or three paragraphs should state why you are applying for the position. What attracted you to the role? Why you are interested in working for the company? Why 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 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 – Have you read our 5 common Interview Questions blogpost?
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Updated 4 November 2014
- Realise their importance.Cover letters are just as important as your CV, if not more important. They're the first thing that an employer sees and have to make a good impression.
- Personalise it. You should address it to an actual person. Try not to use "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom it May Concern". Call and ask who does the hiring then address your cover letter to that person.
- Be careful of titles. Sometimes with foreign names you might not know if you're writing to a man or woman. In that case you could just put their full name followed by Director of Studies, Coordinator, Applications Officer, etc.
- Be brief. Keep it short and simple. Your education and experience should be on your CV. Your teaching philosophy can be a different page as well. Your cover letter should tell the person why you want to work for them and why you're best suited for the job.
- Write in English. Even if the job advertisement was written in another language your cover letter and CV should be in English. Using another language might work against you as the employer may think that you would use class time to learn the language rather than teach English.
- Put some effort into it. If you're emailing your cover letter as an attachment one of the worst things you can do is just write "Please find my documents enclosed". Try to write a couple sentences about who you are and where you found their job advert.
- Drop names. If you heard about the job from someone mention them name in your cover letter. Just make sure to get their permission first.
- Explain why you want to work for them. Show the employer that you know something about them. Do a bit of research about the position and tell them why you think you're suited for it.
- Say what you have to offer. Why should they hire you? This is your chance to sell yourself. If you have experience creating exams, placing students, or being a head teacher, let them know.
- Be formal. There should be no contractions or informal language in your cover letter. Have someone else take a look at it and make sure it's ok.
- Proofread it. Some people use similar cover letters and plug in the necessary information when it comes time to apply for a job. If you're going to do this highlight the sections you need to change. I've seen a cover letter that said "I think I'm suited for this position because of blah, blah." Needless to say they didn't get the job.
- Contact info. Give your phone number and email so that they have a choice of how they would like to reach you.
- Update it when necessary. Take out the old information and put in the new whil.
- Be negative. Don't say that you don't have any teaching experience or that you only have taught for a short time. Your goal is to make employers hire you.
- Get off topic. Don't discuss subjects that aren't related to the position. The fact that you like playing guitar or are only applying to the job because it pays well should not go in your cover letter.
- Talk short term. Don't state that you only want to stay for a few months unless the position is a short term one.
- Talk badly about past employers. One of the golden rules. Don't break it. Ever.
- Talk about other people. That’s great that your mom’s a teacher, but how does that relate to you? Unless you helped her teach or observed her don’t mention it.
- Rehash your entire CV. A cover letter is suppose to entice people to read your CV. If they both have the same information there’s no point in reading your CV.
- Procrastinate. Don't wait until the last moment to update it. You should update it every time you have something pertinent to add.
- Make stupid mistakes. Spelling, punctuation, dates, etc should all be double checked. You can find some more examples of stupid mistakes in post on Dave's ESL Cafe.
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