Cover Letters for Seeking Employment in TEFL

How to Write your Cover Letter when Seeking a Job Teaching English Abroad


People ask from time to time about the “secrets” of writing a good cover letter when seeking a job teaching English overseas.

Well, I don’t think there are any secrets, but there is some good common sense and we will try to cover some of that today.

First and most important: Keep in mind WHY you are writing this cover letter. And know why you are writing it! Why are you? Just because you are supposed to? Because someone told you that you should?

Keep to business when writing such a letter, keep it brief and make sure you do these four things:

1. Indicate your interest in a specific position.
Some employers may have many positions open. They may not know for which position you are applying. Help them know. Be as specific as possible.

2. Inform your potential employer that you are qualified for the position.
Keep it brief. Don’t put your whole CV/resume in the letter, but let them know that when they are deleting emails or trying to pare the pile of applications to a manageable size, that yours should be be saved and looked at in depth. Let them know as early in the letter as possible.

Do this in the second paragraph after you a specify the position you are applying for and keep your summary to a maximum of two or three short paragraphs.  Cover only the qualifications and experience that relate to the position for which you are applying.

3. Ask for an interview/consideration for the position. That is the whole purpose of this contact, correct? Close the body of your letter with your request.

4. Give your contact information either in the header or following your signature line. What good is contacting someone and forgetting to tell them how to contact you? Even if you made contact via email and they can easily just click on “reply” – still give them your contact information.

Keep to Business

Don’t lose the essence of those four points by adding information that can obscure the important point or even that could rule you out of the position. If you have specific requirements about a position in terms location, wages or other issues. leave them for later. You’ll have more leverage once the employer has decided they are interested in you.

Realize that international positions will often require information that is important to them, but sometimes even illegal to ask for in your home country. To obtain legal working papers as a teacher of English in some countries, you must come from a country that they deem to be English speaking. So tell them where you are from, don’t make them guess.  This issue might need to be addressed in #2 above.

At this stage of the process potential employers don’t YET need to know that you are a vegetarian, want to arrive with your “partner” in tow, have a cat that must come with you or that you have medical concerns that you want to be sure can be managed in that country/location. All those issues can come up later, either in an interview or after an offer has been made and you are negotiating the terms of your employment.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Keep to business, keep your letter as brief as possible while still making sure that you have included all the critical information as mentioned on this page.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Don’t badmouth any previous employer.  For some employers this is a fast strong sign of a bad attitude.  They just don’t need to know that you and your last employer didn’t get along.  At least, not yet!

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