Crafting a cover letter to get yourself noticed by a healthcare employer is never an easy task. However, it's your best chance of getting your foot in the door of an employer that may or may not have thought about hiring you based on your resume. Cover letters get personal; employers want to see who you are through them. When you're conducting a healthcare job search it's important to put together one that tells the prospective employer who you are and what you've achieved in the field to date. Create a stellar cover letter by knowing the difference between what information you should and shouldn't put inside it.
Inject your personality because this is where your window of opportunity to make an impression lies. Addressing your letter with phrases such as “to whom it may concern” and “dear sir” makes the potential interviewer think that you sent the same one to many different employers. Take the time to look up the hiring manager and place his or her name at the top.
No Copycats Allowed
You don't want to sound like you copied your letter from another source such as a book or on the Internet because it's the quickest way to get it tossed aside. Employers spot copycat cover letters from a mile away. You want to change-up the sentences and add some personal details about your life. For example, tell the heath care company about how volunteering at your local homeless shelter enabled you to feel empathy for people in need and how later you decided to incorporate that dream into a career in the healthcare industry.
Reign in your desire to ramble on and on about your personal achievements and work history. You most definitely want to list your professional successes. However, going into great detail causes the interviewer's eyes to glaze over. They stop looking at what makes you stand out and start daydreaming about what they're fixing for dinner that night. Most employers prefer to see a cover letter that reads no more than two paragraphs long.
Incorporate phrases that will “get you noticed” by a potential employer to avoid seeing your cover letter tossed aside before it's even been read for five minutes. List how you're indispensable to the company by relating your achievements in sentences that begin with “My team and I resolved a difficult patient problem by” and go on to list how you helped the patient who may, otherwise, may not have gotten through their ordeal. Following this practice will aid you as you navigate through your healthcare job search.
There is no “I” in “Team”
Highlight your willingness to work with others because healthcare companies rarely have positions open where you work without the aid of a team. Everyone from doctors to office staff consults with each other for the end goal of taking care of patients and making sure the facility runs smoothly. Include examples where you displayed team spirit such as group hobbies, volunteer efforts and past military experiences.
Do What You Say
Add in a call to action at the end of your cover letter and make plans to hold yourself to it. For example, if you end your letter with a statement such as “I look forward to talking with you next Tuesday at 3 p.m.,” and you don't follow through, the employer is sure to toss your letter into the waste basket. Following through on your cover letter in the beginning shows you have the ability to carry out personal tasks, which in the employers eyes, leads to you following through on company goals.
Don’t Jump Ahead
Refrain from asking about salary information unless the company requests it because doing so appears tacky on your part to potential employers. Wait until later to enquire about how much you're going to make because you may find that the healthcare company gives you the first amount to negotiate with.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Pick over your cover letter and resume with a fine tooth comb to make sure it is free of errors. Check for run on sentences, typos and false information. Typos say that you won't take the time to delve deep enough into a problem in order to fix it with accuracy. Going the extra distance to make sure your cover letter and resume stands out makes all the difference as you carry out your healthcare job search because, before long, you'll find an employer who wants to learn more about you.
Healthcare Cover Letter Tips
First impressions count in the job search, and that's why a dynamite cover letter can mean the difference between success and failure in your healthcare job search. But what makes a dazzling healthcare cover letter? Several career experts share their advice.
Get to the Point
State the purpose of your letter in the first paragraph. Small talk is generally a waste of space. "Most of the cover letters we do for clients are three paragraphs or so and fill less than a page," says Shel Horowitz, director of Accurate Writing & More in Hadley, Massachusetts.
Tailor Your Letter to the Reader
Focus on the needs of the specific healthcare organization, not on your own requirements as a job seeker, says Lorna Lindsey, director of academic affairs for CompHealth, a healthcare recruiting and staffing firm based in Salt Lake City. Visit your potential healthcare employer's Web site or read the company's annual report to learn more about it, and then use your cover letter to demonstrate how your skills and experience can benefit the organization.
Maintain the Right Tone
A cover letter should be "businesslike, friendly and enthusiastic," says Bill Frank, founder of CareerLab in Denver and author of 200 Letters for Job Hunters.
Healthcare professionals have the "opportunity to reveal their passion" through a cover letter, but the document "shouldn't become too syrupy, or it loses its objectivity and professionalism," says Lorne Weeks III, MD, a healthcare consultant for the Physician Career Network, a division of CareerLab.
Make It Memorable
New healthcare graduates can make their cover letters stand out by personalizing their stories. If you decided to model your career after a healthcare professional who helped a family member, for example, tell that story rather than making the blander claim that you've always wanted to help people. "If your story is unique, it's no longer a cliche," Frank says.
Stay on Track
The best cover letters are direct and concise, says Kathy Campbell, employment and employee relations manager at Holy Spirit Health System in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. "Don't include a lot of unnecessary personal information," she says.
Highlight Your Biggest Successes
Your healthcare cover letter shouldn't just summarize your career or repeat the same information from your resume, according to Wendy Enelow, founder of the Career Masters Institute in Fresno, California. "You want it to highlight the successes and achievements of your career that are most related to the types of positions for which you are applying," she says.
According to Frank, you should mention career-related "triples and home runs" in your cover letter.
Use Power Phrases
Use strong action words to convey your healthcare experiences and illustrate your healthcare qualifications with phrases like "I have a strong background in" and "I have a talent for," Lindsey says.
Don't be shy about selling yourself, Enelow notes, since that's the purpose of a cover letter.
Show Your Team Spirit
If you have room for a few extra sentences in your cover letter, Lindsey suggests emphasizing your teamwork and communication skills. "In this day and age, teamwork and communication are vitally important in almost every healthcare position, from the lowest to the highest paid," she says.
Spice Up Your Writing
Effective cover letters are a little different from all the others but still straightforward, experts say. For example, the boring, traditional way to start a cover letter is: "I am writing in response to your advertisement for a nurse and have enclosed my resume for your review." The better cover letter beginning could be: "Your ad on Monster for a nurse captured my attention and motivated me to learn more about this healthcare opportunity." Then describe how your healthcare qualifications match the employer's needs.
An unforgivable error some job seekers make is failing to follow up after promising to do so in a cover letter. If you write in your cover letter that you'll call the letter recipient on a certain day or by a specific deadline, do it.
- Provide salary information when it is not requested.
- Address a letter recipient by anything other than his name. Avoid "Dear Sirs" at all costs.
- Write a canned, generic letter that looks like it was copied from a book.
- Start the first paragraph and too many other sentences with "I."
- Make spelling errors and typos.
- Handwrite a cover letter.
- Use shoddy paper, or paper that's different from your resume paper.
- Cram too much information into a small space.
- Include irrelevant personal information or job experience.
- Overstate your accomplishments or contradict your resume.
Learn more about healthcare careers.