• Prasanthi Naidoo

Make a strong first impression with your healthcare cover letter

When applying for a job, always include a cover letter along with you your resume. It can be the first impression you make on employers, even before they're looked at your skills and experience.

The consensus among most hiring professionals is that most of them don't read cover letters anymore. If the resume has all of the credentials and looks like a good fit for the role, then the candidate gets shortlisted. If the resume doesn't match, then they get passed over. Either way, why bother with a cover letter?

Because when competing for a job, you want to do everything you can to give yourself an edge. Some hiring professionals do read cover letters, so if they look for it, you don't want to be the one candidate who didn't send one.

Also, when sorting through the short-list of qualified applicants, hiring managers might then look for their cover letters to further limit the field of those they want to interview. Again, the candidates who put more effort into their applications – they sent a cover letter – will have the advantage.

Tips for your healthcare resume

Start with your contact information. Make sure that your phone number and email address are current and correct. Spell check won't catch typos or mistakes in these, and the ultimate fail of an application is if the employer wants to interview you – but cannot get in touch with you. Use a phone number that has voicemail activated and check it regularly.

Us your opening paragraph to introduce yourself and state your interest in the position you are applying for. Part of your introduction can be your licence numbers and types as well as certifications and areas of specialization. You don't need to rehash your resume, just point out your top-level qualifications.

Add a paragraph about why you are passionate about working in this role for this employer specifically. That kind of enthusiasm can set you apart from rival candidates who may seem like they are just trying to get hired – and any job will do. Does the institution do ground-breaking research, have they received acknowledgements for the quality of their care, or does their area of specialization resonate with something in your personal life or background? Make a personal connection with the organization or department.

This connection can also lead into a sentence or paragraph about why you would be a great fit with the team and its mission.

Finally, thank the employer for their time and for considering your application. Invite them to get in touch with you if they need any more information or to set up an interview, and then sign off.

Your cover letter does not need to be very long. Ideally it should run less than a page. It's simply a polite way to introduce yourself and your top qualifications and explain why you are interested in the job. Your resume will provide the rest of the details about your full background and experience.

You won't get hired for a job because of your cover letter, but you might hurt your chances by not sending one. So, even though it might not even be read, you should still put the effort into writing one. It can tip the odds in your favour.

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