What principals want to see!

International School CVs and cover letters Search Associates ANZ Example of what recruiter is looking for when creating international CV

Your Cover Letter

It sounds obvious, but make sure you get the school and recruiter’s name right. Applications should be spell-checked and proofread. A careless error, such as a spelling or grammatical mistake may negatively impact the reader’s impression of your application.

Research the schools you are really interested in and use their website to help frame your application. Think about how you came to teaching in the first place and be prepared to articulate that in your cover letter.

Your cover letter should explain why you are applying for this particular job at this particular school.

Always read the requirements – if it says you are required to teach a subject and you don’t have experience or mention a willingness to learn, it shows you haven’t read it. Show exactly how you fit the job criteria by what you have done and what you are hoping to do next.

Don’t hide any gaps in employment. Try to highlight all the positives for any gaps that you list and think about the transferable skills you have. EG. “I have never worked in an IB PYP program, however, my school uses an inquiry-based approach to learning and this approach to learning would be transferable to teaching at a PYP school.”

Writing Your Letter

  • Start with a brief introduction “Dear X, my name is Jane Smith and I would like to interview for the Music position”.
  • Then include a brief summary of your experience/education “I am a (US/UK etc) certified teacher with 4 years of experience teaching (subjects)” or “I am just completing my B.Ed but have 5 years experience teaching ESL in Korea”. (Consider adding your ‘hook’ here – see below).
  • Follow with your key skills/ highlights, and why you should be granted an interview.
  • If applicable, state your partner’s name and the position he/she is applying to.
  • Make sure it’s concise and contains key highlights. Recruiters will be scanning for relevant teaching experience, confirmation of certification in your field, career highlights, and your preferences for the next move.​

International School CVs and cover letters Search Associates ANZ digital presentation

Pick and choose the schools you approach rather than reaching out with a generic letter to as many schools as possible. If you’ve done your research, you’ll be sure that it’s the kind of place you want to work. You will also be better placed than other candidates to show how you’d fit right in.


Please watch our expert coach, Deidre Fischer who offers her advice about writing a cover letter. To access it, click the Powerpoint icon on the right, and press the present format (same icon) to ‘play’.

Deidre suggests also including what you have found out from the school website or learned about the school that resonates with you and why. She recommends considering how to create a ‘hook’ for the reader in the first paragraph of your letter of application – putting your ‘why’ in the first paragraph is key, before heading into how your experience and skills can add value to the school. Remember to personalise the letter, and explain in your 2nd and subsequent paragraphs how your skills and experience can support what the school is working towards. It’s also helpful to describe an example from your own teaching which helps with the authenticity.

How to write a cover letter

What sets you apart from other applicants?

International School CVs and cover letters Search Associates ANZ Woman sitting on a rock overlooking the valley of hills

In the competition for a particular job, there will be certain factors that you and your competitors all share.  You may all have a Bachelors’s degree, have all worked in at least one school and you may all have at least five years of experience. This is where you need to try and find your ‘edge’, the added value that you could bring to a school, and be ready to exploit it as you compete with others for the same job.

Schools like to know if you are keeping up to date with current issues in schools and society generally.  Include any training on key issues such as diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, intercultural competency, etc.

Don’t forget your profile

On the experience tab of your Search Associates profile is space for including the reason for leaving your present job. Try writing what you have learned and what you hope your next challenge will be. Never say negative things about a previous employer as it leaves a bad first impression. Try to frame the truth in a positive way.

Make sure your profile matches up with your CV!

The personal statement (your bio notes), will get a recruiter’s attention. Include your hobbies and interests – it makes you a more rounded person and most schools run an after-school program where you can share your talents. Have a proposal for what you can offer the community (it may also be teaching the teachers). Look at school needs and try to offer something interesting and different.

International School CVs and cover letters Search Associates ANZ Person working on their laptop computerContact us to set up a 1-1 chat to help you go through a process to find your ‘right fit’ job as part of your long-term goal to achieve your dream job. We can talk about aligning values and prioritising your job criteria to help you in your job search. The shared commonality is that everyone is hoping to find the right fit. Our role is to support the unique range of individuals within the recruitment process.

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