The cover letter you create as part of your online teaching job application package plays a very important role. Not only is in an opportunity for you to showcase your skills, qualifications, and passion for education in a compelling way, but it also presents you with an opportunity to show schools that you uniquely meet the requirements of the position they are specifically asking for. In their job postings, schools are saying, “We want you if you have these qualifications/can do these things.” Your cover letter answers with, “I’m great for this position because I have those qualifications and I can do those things…and here is how! The cover letter is also a great vehicle for emphasizing your student-centered teaching philosophy, which nearly all schools will be looking for.
Here are some quick and helpful tips to consider as you craft your online teaching job cover letter:
Address the Recipient
Whenever possible, address the letter to a specific person – if they are listed in the job posting. If you don’t see a name, it is okay to go with “To whom it may concern.” But, if there is a person listed in the job description somewhere, you should use their name in the greeting.
Begin with a strong and engaging opening paragraph that states the position you are applying for and briefly mentions not just your interest in the role, but the top two or three things that qualify you for the position. So, for example, you might say “Hello, I’m Dr. Jane Smith and I’m eagerly applying to the role of Online Math Instructor at your esteemed institution. As someone with a master’s in Mathematics, five years of online teaching experience, and a proven student-centered teaching philosophy (as evidenced by the attached positive student evaluations), I believe you’ll find my background and qualifications well suited for this position.”
Research the Institution
Demonstrate that you have done your homework by mentioning specific details about the college or university. Highlighting your knowledge of their online programs, values, or specific student populations (i.e., non-traditional students, large military student population, bilingual students, etc.) will show that you’re genuinely interested and motivated.
Showcase Your Qualifications
Tailor your cover letter to emphasize the skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate for this particular online teaching position. Especially address anything the school specifically asks for. So, if they require a doctorate, 3-5 years of online teaching experience, and 2-5 years of relevant industry experience, make very sure you mention those points. If they online “prefer” something (meaning, it’s not a requirement) that you don’t have, it’s okay to leave it out – don’t pad or stretch something just to check a box. But if a position requires something, you need to make sure you mention how you fulfill that requirement in your cover letter. This usually takes the form of your graduate degree, relevant teaching experience, industry experience and certifications, exposure and familiarity with learning management systems (LMSs), and any specialized training related to online education.
Highlight Technology Skills
Online teaching often involves using various digital tools and platforms. Showcase your proficiency in using technology for teaching, such as video conferencing tools (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebX, etc.), learning management systems, or multimedia resources. Often a school will mention the specific LMS they use in their job description (i.e., Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, D2L/Brightspace, etc.). If you have any familiarity with that platform (either as an instructor or student) mention it. If you haven’t yet been exposed to that LMS, you can mention that you are pursuing training in that LMS – but make sure you actually do so. The school could circle back to this during the interview and getting some basic training in oft-used LMSs is a value-add for your job hunt anyway.
Emphasize your commitment to individualized learning and student success. Mention any previous experience in adapting lessons to meet the needs of diverse learners or employing different teaching strategies to engage students in the online setting. This is a bigger deal to schools that it may seem on the surface. They spend a lot of time, money, and energy recruiting their student body and want to make sure that once the students are in class, they are set up to succeed with instructors who will work with them and meet them where they are. Often, schools will require a separate Statement of Teaching Philosophy where you can go into much more detail. But here in the cover letter, you will want to make it clear that you are focused on students’ success and aren’t going to be one of those “my way or the highway”-style instructors.
Passion for Teaching and Subject Matter
Communicate your genuine enthusiasm for teaching and the subject you’ll be instructing. Share anecdotes or experiences that illustrate your passion for education.
Online teaching can present unique challenges, and schools are looking for teachers who can adapt and find creative solutions. Provide examples of how you’ve handled challenges in your previous teaching experiences. Don’t spend a great deal of time storytelling here, but if you have space, it will be good to showcase your ability to flex when the situation requires it.
Keep your cover letter focused and to the point. Avoid being too wordy and make sure each sentence contributes to the overall message. We recommend that your cover letter not exceed one page, single spaced.
Call to Action
Conclude your cover letter with a strong closing statement, expressing your interest in further discussing your qualifications in an interview. Provide your contact information and thank the reader for considering your application.
Always proofread your cover letter before sending it. Typos and grammatical errors can make a negative impression. Use any grammar/spelling checkers you typically use, read your letter out loud, and then give it to several people in your circle to proofread it for you.
Follow Application Instructions
If the job posting specifies any requirements for the cover letter (e.g., word count, specific information to include), make sure to adhere to those instructions. If the provide a space for you to upload supplemental materials (i.e., certificates, student evaluations, letters of reference, etc.) make sure you attach those along with your application.
Remember, your cover letter is your chance to make a strong first impression, so take the time to tailor it to the specific online teaching job you’re applying for and showcase why you are the ideal candidate for the online teaching position.
Need Help with your Online Teaching Job Cover Letter?
Do you need individualized feedback on your cover letter? In our OnRamp course, we will do that—along with answering your questions about the job market, reviewing and editing your Statement of Teaching Philosophy and your CV, and even offering suggestions on interview questions. Look over the full course description and register easily online. You can also check out some of the kind things our graduates have said over on our OnRamp: Reviews and Testimonials page.