You’ve seen a new role. It’s perfect for you. You have all the right skills and would ace the interview. The only problem is you need to write a cover letter to go with your CV – and you don’t know where to start! Here are Moxi’s top tips for writing an award-winning cover letter to land you the job of your dreams!
Introduce Yourself with an Engaging Introduction
The most important part of your cover letter is your opening paragraph, so it’s important to have a concise and engaging introduction. This will be the first part that a recruiter or manager will read, so it needs to draw them in. In your first sentence introduce the role you are applying for, and why this role appeals to you. Don’t be afraid to make it personal! If your experience or motivation is a personal one add this into your cover letter, as being able to demonstrate empathy and understanding of the settings you work in will be a big bonus!
“I am writing to apply for the role of SEN Teaching Assistant. I am passionate about supporting the needs of people with additional needs, as this is something that is very personal to me. My youngest child was diagnosed with Autism two years ago, and since watching him go through the journey of diagnosis, it has ignited a passion in me to support other children with similar needs, using my personal experience to support families.”
A personal and honest introduction will probably grab the interest of a recruiter rather than the generic “I am applying for this post as I am an experienced SEN Teaching Assistant and believe my skills will be valuable to this role.”
Talk about your experience
The next thing a recruiter will be expecting to see is your experience working within education. It is good to demonstrate the ability levels and needs that you have worked at within these settings. In particular, if they link to some of the needs of the school.
“I have over five years experience working in SEN settings and have worked with KS3 and KS4 aged students. I have particular experience working with children with ASC and SEMH needs in the school, providing specialist support based around EHC plans.”
Make your cover letter specific to the company
When writing a cover letter, make sure that you do so with the job description and information about the company to hand. No one likes a “copy and paste” generic cover letter that could apply to any company or role. An employer likes to see that you have taken your time in understanding the job role, what is required of you and how your experience matches up on paper. Try to use some of the keywording used in the description. For example, if the job description asks you to be resilient, use the word resilient. Always back up your statements with evidence from work scenarios.
“I would love to work at Greenfield SEN school as I admire your school ethos – ‘to persevere through adversity.’ This is something I find true of my own experience working as an SEN Teaching Assistant. In particular, last year I had one young person who refused to engage in lessons or listen to members of staff. Slowly through perseverance and consistency, I was able to build a relationship with the young person, who at first would not engage slowly started to interact with me and complete work as directed. It is through perseverance I was able to create a positive learning environment for the young person.”
What happens if I don’t have much experience?
If you don’t have direct or much experience within the education sector don’t panic. The recruiter is not always looking for someone that is experienced, and many factors are taken into consideration, including personal attitude and transferable skills – these are things that cannot be taught. Read through the job description, are there skills that crossover with your past experience? Have you any personal or voluntary experience working with children or educational settings you can use? All of this experience is relevant.
“While working at Meadow Lane surgery as a receptionist, I was responsible for managing and coordinating a busy waiting room area so that patients were seen quickly and efficiently. At times I would be responsible for managing challenging behaviours in the surgery. An example of this was one time a patient was waiting for over 20 minutes due to a shortage of staff. The patient was angry about this and began to shout. I took the time to speak to the patient listening carefully and explaining the situation to them. I apologised and empathised with their situation and was able to speak to the doctor to ensure that their situation was dealt with effectively. Afterwards, the patient apologised for their behaviour and thanked me for listening and taking the time to understand them.”
The above paragraph demonstrates some of the transferable skills that are expected in education, but it still doesn’t directly link how this is transferrable, so finish this paragraph with an explanatory sentence.
“This example demonstrates my skills in listening and patience, showing empathy to the patient allowed me to successfully deescalate the situation, skills that are vital when working with young people with SEMH and behavioural difficulties.”
Closing your cover letter
Similarly, the closing of a paragraph is equally as important as your opening paragraph. It is the lasting impression that you will leave with a recruiter or company. Try to avoid clichés such as “I look forward to hearing from you.” Make it personal, end with why you are looking forward to working for the school and what you can bring to the table – your unique selling point.
“I am excited about the prospect of working for Greenfield SEN school and the unique culture it brings. I believe that my unique experience in SEN and developing holistic extra-curricular activities will greatly benefit the school.”
Proof check before you hit send!
And finally, the most important part – proof check your cover letter and CV before you send it. You have one chance to make an impression, so you don’t want to leave typos and silly errors for a prospective employee. Get a friend to proof check your work or use free software like Grammarly which will help you correct your work. Whatever you do – leave yourself enough time to check your cover letter at least once before clicking send!