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Writing the letter

More than the rest of your application form, it will be the personal statement which gets you shortlisted. When structuring your writing, think of how to be helpful to the reader. Jan McKenley wisely recommends keeping your CV up-to-date but you must then tailor each application to a specific job. Use the same order as in the person specification – if you have things to write that aren’t covered by this perhaps they aren’t relevant.

Express yourself with care. Be relevant and concise, and don’t include anything you can’t back up at interview. Address any problematic issues (such as gaps in employment) that the reader is likely to have picked up in reading the information parts of the application form. Try to turn things to your advantage.

Your personal statement should cover about two sides of A4 and be well formatted to look as professional as you can make it. Unlike a CV, your personal statement is prose and it needs to read well. Read it out loud – does it flow? Proofread it, and then get some hawk-eyed pedant to check it because any spelling or grammatical errors will send it straight to the reject pile.

Before you send the application off check that you haven’t:

  • Got the name of the school or headteacher wrong
  • Left blanks on the application form or gaps in employment history – you’ll be assumed to have been in prison!
  • Made any errors
  • Copied even one sentence from someone else’s application – plagiarism is a huge sin
  • Undersold yourself

Attach a short covering letter or email saying that you look forward to discussing your application. Then just wait for that email or letter inviting you for interview!