Cover Letter Tips for Medical Job Applicants

Medical professionals meet and confer

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Some career experts recommend sending a cover letter with your resume (or CV) 100 percent of the time. A cover letter is an excellent way to help your resume (or CV) stand out and to expand on some of your accomplishments.

A cover letter is especially important if you are changing fields, or to add information that doesn't fit on your resume or that doesn't belong on a resume (or CV).

Whether you are a nurse, a doctor, an allied healthcare professional, or a member of a support staff, these tips will help you get started on an effective cover letter.

Do Keep It Short and Simple

Hiring managers and recruiters are extremely busy. They barely have time to scan resumes, much less read a cover letter that is the size of a novel. Therefore, limit your cover letter to a few succinct paragraphs. Definitely no more than one page, and preferably less, if possible.

Don't Regurgitate Your CV in Letter Format

It is okay to highlight and elaborate on one or two items on your CV. However, your cover letter should not be just a re-hash of the same information that is already included on your resume.

Do Enlighten Your Reader

Your reader (a recruiter or hiring manager) wants to know why they should call you for their job opening. If all of your experience is in psychiatric ​nursing but you are seeking a career in primary care, a cover letter is a great tool to explain why you are seeking a change of specialty, and why you would be a good hire for the primary care nursing role even though your CV screams "psychiatry specialist."

In other words, use the cover letter to highlight your strengths as they relate to the specific job opening, and sell yourself in regard to any areas of your background that could be perceived as a weakness in relation to the job opening.

Do Show Interest and Initiative

Show that you've done your research about the role or the company, by aligning your accomplishments and experience with specific aspects about the job opening or the healthcare organization to which you are applying.

Don't Cover Up too Much

It's not called a "cover" letter because you're covering up or hiding aspects of your background. If there are any caveats in your past, such as background issues, or if you lack a certification or a license needed for the job, don't try to hide it until you can spring it on the recruiter later. This will only create mistrust and aggravate the hiring contact, which will most likely result in your dismissal from the interview process. Instead, use the cover letter to explain why the issue is there, why you think you should be considered despite the shortcoming, and outline your plan of action for getting the needed certification or overcoming whatever the issue is.

Do Tailor the Letter

No one wants to waste time reading a form letter. If you're not going to customize your cover letter for the specific job and organization to which you're applying, you would be better off not sending a cover letter at all. You do not have to re-write the entire letter, but there should be at least a few sentences regarding the particular job opening and employer, and why you are a strong fit for both.