If you're looking for a new ed leadership job for the upcoming school year, now is the time to put together a cover letter that crushes it.
What do I mean by “it”? The competition. I hate to say it, but it's the truth.
Too many cover letters are milquetoast, run-of-the-mill statements of fact that do nothing—nothing—to get the applicant in the “yes” pile.
If you want to land your next admin job, you've got to ace the cover letter. (Read on for a free downloadable template)
The Cover Letter's Job
The cover letter's job is to get you into the “definitely interview” pile.
If your cover letter fails to do its job, the whole process stops. You're out of the running.
You can only write a solid cover letter if you understand its purpose. Your cover letter is NOT:
- An explanation of the simple fact that you exist and are interested in the position
- A narrative restatement of your résumé
- A note to the reader that you possess the minimum legal requirements for the position
No, no, and no! Cover letters that only cover the basics don't give the reviewer any useful information. They fail to do their job…so you fail to get your job.
Don't Be Perfunctory—Sell Yourself
This is hard for us to do as educators, but in your cover letter, you've got to sell yourself as hard as you ever will.
This doesn't mean that you:
- Brag or boast
- Make unsupported claims
- Explicitly say that you're the best person for the job
…but you need to make the reader come to the inevitable conclusion that you're the best person for the job.
I've read tons of cover letters that waste space with perfunctory, vague, and ultimately worthless niceties that fill the page, but don't help the reader fill the job.
Understand that you're actually doing the reader a favor by making a clear, strong case about yourself. Most of the time, reading cover letters is a total waste of time for the person reviewing applications, because they don't actually say anything enlightening about the applicant—and as a result, they all sound the same.
This is a mistake to avoid, but it's also a huge opportunity for you. Write a strong cover letter that sells your candidacy, and you'll stand out above the rest.
Don't Duplicate Your Résumé—Bring It To Life
The place to list your certifications, degrees, and years of experience is in the résumé. Your cover letter has a different job.
When it comes to qualifications, your cover letter should:
- Connect the dots for the reader—always explain how the qualifications you're highlighting actually make a difference. For example, “My extensive experience working with teachers as an instructional coach has allowed me to develop both the expertise and the relationship-building skills that it takes to be a principal who is truly an instructional leader.”
- NEVER mention minimum qualifications, e.g. “I have a beginning principal's certificate from XYZ university”. Nothing screams “rookie!” like a cover letter that brags about meeting the job's minimum requirements.
- Frame your qualifications in terms of benefits for the organization, and especially for its students, e.g. “My passion for restorative justice compelled me to lead the development of a behavior intervention program that reduced out-of-school suspensions by 63%.”
In other words, don't just share facts that are in your résumé (and certainly don't share facts that don't make you stand out).
Tell a story. Put the picture together for the reader, so they see how qualified you really are, and what a good fit you'd be.
For another take on your cover letter, check out this episode of Principal Center TV:
Download My Ultimate Cover Letter Template
I've created a simple, one-page template for you to follow as you craft your competition-crushing cover letter.
It's not a fill-in-the-blank deal—in fact, you won't be using any of my words. But you'll have a paragraph-by-paragraph guide to what your letter should accomplish.
Principal Cover Letter Sample 1:
It is with great enthusiasm that I write to submit my name for a school leadership position. I have earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education (Biology), a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and a Principal’s Certificate, and have completed some coursework towards an Ed.D. With 2 years experience as a Principal, 12 years experience as an Assistant Principal and more than seven years experience in hands-on teaching, I am confident that I possess the qualifications required to help your district promote its philosophy and goals.
As the attached resume will detail, I am currently serving as Principal at Lower Hauphin Area High School, where I am the educational leader and administrator in charge of all programs and initiatives. I am working closely with faculty to realign the curriculum to the Common Core and modify instruction to best prepare students for the Keystone exams. As an Assistant Principal at State College Area High School, I supervised a diverse staff and more than 2,500 students. As Activities Administrator, I spearheaded a faculty task force that successfully maintained over 90 student clubs and activities on a significantly reduced budget by encouraging faculty and staff to donate their time and expertise at little or no cost to the district. I have coordinated Classrooms for the Future and have utilized Standards Aligned Systems, Measures of Academic Progress and PA Value-Added Assessment to improve effectiveness of instruction. Additionally, I served five years as a Chairperson for the Middle States Association, an experience that has magnified my site planning and instructional leadership abilities.
My greatest strengths include: collaborative leadership, strategic planning, empowering educators to develop their leadership and instructional skills, independent academic program development in technology, science, and math, coordination and leadership in community and pedagogical programs, and identification / implementation of organizational programs. I foster strong working relationships with local and school communities and facilitate integration of initiatives designed to enhance the school environment.
As Principal, I aspire to a school culture and educational program conducive to student learning and development. Families are under tremendous challenges today, and I seek to foster positive behavior, student and faculty teamwork, and cooperation in the school environment. I initiate and lead programs to provide clear, concise information both internally to professional staff and externally to students and parents. My belief is that students make choices, and most of the time there are natural consequences for these choices. They should be held accountable in a consistent and fair manner.
I would appreciate the opportunity to meet you personally to discuss, in detail, how my diverse skills and experience will allow me to make a valuable contribution to your school district. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Principal Cover Letter Sample 2:
I wish to apply for the position of High School Principal, as advertised in the July edition of The News Times. I studied your requirements carefully and believe that I have the required qualifications and experience for this position. I request you to accept my resume enclosed with this application.
As noted on my resume, I hold a masters degree in education and a professional license in teaching. I have been working as Assistant Principal at Mayoor School since 2006. Before 2006, I was teaching middle school English at the same school.
My key job functions and responsibilities include:
- Supervising all school personnel
- Formulating and implementing programs, curriculum activities, policies, and budgets in a manner that improves the educational development prospects of each student and promotes the professional development of all teachers
- Identifying the annual objectives for the instructional, athletic, and extracurricular programs of the school
- Evaluating progress of the students and supervising and apprising the performance of the teachers
My resume highlights specific examples of my administrative and leadership duties. During my tenure as Principal, I have been complemented on numerous occasions by the school superintendent on my strong problem-solving, creative thinking, and long-range planning abilities. Additionally, I am adept in communicating with a diverse population.
I relish the range of challenges that are part of this job and enjoy working with students, parents, and teachers. My interests, strengths and abilities, along with my over 6 years of experience I believe, are exactly what you want for this position.
My enclosed resume provides more information on my education, professional experience, and achievements. I hope you will give me the opportunity of a personal interview to help me understand your needs better and explain to you in greater detail how I can contribute to your school system.
Principal Cover Letter Sample 3:
I am an enthusiastic professional educator with 17 years of successful experience. As you will note on my attached resume, I hold a Doctorate in Education Leadership from Arkansas State University. I bring to the table six years of experience as a middle school principal, one year of experience as an assistant principal, and ten years of experience as a school counselor. Currently, I am the principal of East Middle School in Memphis TN and am in charge of 630 students. In this role, I work collaboratively with teachers to ensure that students achieve academically in a safe learning environment.
Although successful in my career as a middle school principal, I am now seeking to combine my school leadership experience with my passion for mentoring and coaching new and aspiring school leaders as well as teachers at the high school level. Listed below is a summary of what I have to offer your organization:
Leadership Competence: Promoting student achievement by making learning a top priority; creating a shared vision; evaluating instructional practices; analyzing data in order to monitor progress and set goals; monitoring lesson plans; managing the curriculum; and designing, guiding, and leading professional development.
Administrative Competence: Maintaining a safe learning environment; selecting, inducting, and evaluating staff; managing the school budget; and overseeing day-to-day operations of the school.
Greater details of my qualifications and what I have to offer can be found on the attached copy of my resume. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you so that we can discuss the contributions that I can make to your organization. Thank you for your time and consideration.