Writing a cover letter is essential for every job that you apply for, and a TEFL application is no different. One mistake that a lot of applicants make is to assume that because the job is for a language school abroad, or because you're applying by email, you can be informal or lax with the process.
This mistake usually ends up meaning you're not even considered for the job.
On the flip side, getting the cover letter right puts you ahead of the majority of other candidates making the above mentioned mistakes. It's not a particularly difficult thing to get right either. As long as you take it seriously, follow our guidelines below, and put some effort into it, you'll do very well.
The following guidelines are our tips for applying for all TEFL positions, as well as our own personal requirements. You can use these as a general rule for all applications. Further reading: How to avoid getting your application deleted.
Why A Cover Letter Is Important
Without a cover letter, your CV or resume ends up lacking substance. As CV's are usually informal and brief, they tend to be in "bare bones" form and don't demonstrate your writing style, professionalism, and attention to detail in much depth. They need fleshing out.
Not only that, but a cover letter allows you to draw the reader's attention to the parts of your CV which represent how qualified and fitting you are for the position. You get to actually TELL the reader why you are a fit for the job, rather than hoping they can glean that information from your CV.
You also get to demonstrate that you understand the position, have researched the job, the company, the country you're applying for, and anything else relevant.
The vast majority of companies would prefer to receive a cover letter than not, but a large percentage make it a requirement. Simply attaching your CV is not likely to get you anywhere.
A cover letter is your chance to sell yourself for the position, whereas a CV simply shows why you might be qualified.
How To Write A TEFL Cover Letter
First of all, if you're applying via email, you should include the letter in the body of the email rather than as an attachment. This will stop your email getting flagged as spam, and will make it 10x easier for the recipient to read. At TEFLOne, it's one of our top things to look for.
While your cover letter should be more formal and in-depth than a CV usually is, that doesn't mean you need to make it too wordy. Make the employer or recruiter find it easy to read. Keep it concise, simple, and to the point.
Tailor each letter specifically to that application. It's very easy to spot a mass-email (especially if you CC everyone in!), so make sure to use the name of the person reading it, reference the position you're applying for, and demonstrate that you've done your research. Not only does this make you stand out as someone who takes the time to apply to each job individually, it also shows that you are professional.
Relate your skills to the job. Even if you've not done TEFL or teaching before, find a way to relate the skills on your CV to the job. Show how you're learned professionalism, independence, and a willingness to learn. Most TEFL recruiters are more interested in you being the right person for the job, than having the right experience set. This is your chance to show it.
State your availability. This is very important because in some cases, recruiters will have positions that need filling quickly, and you being able to tick that box will get your CV into the right pile.
The next part is the preferences that we have for applications. Even if you're not applying for a job with us, you should bear them in mind and apply them to all your applications.
The ideal application;
- - Is in the body of the application email (as opposed to a separate attachment)
- - Is brief and to the point
- - Uses a salutation and not too informal like 'hi there' or 'hello'
- - Has absolutely no typos or small 'i's...... Typing it on an iPhone is not recommended
- - Includes the following - what job you're applying for, school location, your availability, credentials, experience and where you heard about the job.
If you use the above points as your guidelines, then you should find that your application gets responded to the majority of the time.
Further reading: Five myths about TEFL applications.