Month: February 2019

The Cover Letter

Cover letters are seldom read carefully and there’s a good chance that it might never be read. Yet, a cover letter is always required. So, you might as well develop the best one that you can.

General Guidelines:
1. Keep the letter to one page.
2. Carefully proof read for any mechanical errors—spelling, punctuation, grammar, word choice, capitalization, complete sentences. Have a colleague who has excellent writing skills proof read.
3. Avoid adjectives and adverbs. Avoid flowery language (“It is with great pleasure that you kindly accept this humble letter of application for your recently posted position on OLAS for your elementary school assistant principal.”) This should read: “I am applying for your assistant principal position.”
4. Emphasize your accomplishments. Avoid presenting your job description.
5. Address your letter to the person identified in the job posting. If a name is not identified, then address it: “To Whom It May Concern:”
6. Make certain that you address it to the right district. You will usually send the same form of the letter to various districts, so be careful to change the name when addressing the new letter.
7. Use a four-paragraph format.

Paragraph 1:
1. “I am applying for the position of______________.”
2. “For the last five years I have been serving as ____________ in the ____________School District.
3. Previous to this I was ______________.
4. “I earned my _____________________________. “(list your academic degrees and the universities)
5. Specifically indicate why you are interested in applying for this position. Why are you attracted to this job and this school?

Paragraph 2:
1. Briefly describe two or three accomplishments that relate to this new position and/or school-community.

Paragraph 3:
Identify three professional qualities and/or guiding principles that colleagues would use to describe you and define you, and briefly provide an example for each quality.

Paragraph 4:
Conclude with two sentences: “I look forward to meeting with you in the near future in order that I might provide you with more information regarding my candidacy. Thank you in advance for your serious consideration.”

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Questions to Ask When Closing the Deal

You have survived three interviews and are now down to one of three candidates. Your last stop is with the Superintendent of Schools and two of the Assistant Superintendents. They are going to ask you, “Do you have any questions for us?”
Be aware, their time is limited, and they will appreciate it if you limit yourself to about three questions. Nevertheless, the quality of your questions does make an impact and can be a game changer. Your goal is to impress them with your professionalism, thoughtfulness, and collegiality.

These are a few questions from which you might chose:
1. What do you want me to accomplish by the end of the year that would result in you saying that I’ve been successful?
2. Big picture, what is your vision for this district?
3. In your opinion, what are the assets and the liabilities in coming into this position?
4. Are there any third rails I need to be aware of?
5. What advice do you have for my success?

How do these questions reflect upon you as a candidate? I would conclude that you are (1) interested in being successful; (2) willing to fit in and fulfill their goals; (3) thoughtful and curious about their current status; (4) eager to gain background knowledge and get off to a quick start.

Asking good open-ended questions also serves as a vehicle to extend the conversation. I suggest, you briefly comment on their responses in your attempt to extend the conversation. “I have some experience dealing with______.” “How much progress are you making in your ______ initiative? What problems are you encountering” “I’m very impressed with what you are saying.”

In addition, at the conclusion of the interview, you should always ask: “When can I expect to hear back from you?”