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Cover Letter Writing Tips

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Top 10 Cover Letter Tips - by Damon Brown and Kay Peterson, Ph.D.,

Tip 1: Keep it brief.
Your letter should not go over one page. Use short paragraphs and bullet points whenever possible. Avoid flowery or excessive words when fewer words will get your point across equally well.

Tip 2: Be assertive and proactive.
Explain what special skills and qualities you can bring to the job. Don't explain what the job will do for you. Avoid empty cliches, such as “I am a self-starter” or “I'm a people person.” Use active words and phrases. Avoid “are” and “is.”

Tip 3: Tailor the cover letter to the specific company.
Don't write generic praise about the school district. Be as specific as you can and demonstrate your knowledge of the district. Research the district using its own web site or public information. Check news sources for recent school events that you can reference in your letter.

Tip 4: Revise your cover letter for each application.
Different aspects of your background will fit different jobs. Focus on relevant job experiences and skills. For instance, an employer for a science teaching position probably would’t be interested in your athletic skills.

Tip 5: When writing about non-professional experiences, translate them into “business-speak.”
Explain how your class-related, extracurricular, or volunteer activities have prepared you for other kinds of work. Compare:

"I was president of the SEA."
"In my term as president of the SEA, I developed valuable leadership skills as I organized a ten person team to undertake fundraising activities."

Tip 6: Address your letter to an individual rather than a department.
Call the school directly to identify the proper addressee. Use formal language (Mr., Ms., Dr.) when addressing them, and never just their first name—even if you know them personally.

Tip 7: Appearances count.
Use high-quality white paper; it’s thicker than typewriter or printer paper. Avoid elaborate or colored stationery. Print a clean final copy to send, not a photocopy.

Tip 8: Let the employer be the judge of your skills.
State your skills and qualifications, but don’t tell the employer that you are the best person for the job. It can appear arrogant and presumptuous. Impress the employer with your skills, and let them conclude you are the best person for the job.

Tip 9: Proofread!
Typos will land your letter in the trash. Check grammar and the spellings of names. Have somebody else read your letter—they can pick up on things missing from your letter. Before mailing, make sure you’ve included your resume and any other requested items.

Tip 10: Follow up with a thank-you note.
A thank-you note demonstrates your interest in the job and will help them keep you in mind for the position.

More cover letter writing tips:



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