First impressions are everything, so put your best foot forward during your healthcare job search by including a well-written cover letter and winning resume with every application. Applicants sometimes choose not to include a cover letter with their resume because it’s time-consuming, but that can be a big mistake. A cover letter showcases who you are, giving the employer a personalized glimpse into your career history and goals. It complements your resume by detailing your abilities, experiences and achievements and how they align with the open position.
As you well know, healthcare professionals (HCPs) are busy people. A winning healthcare cover letter should grab the reader’s attention and be organized and easily scannable. Below, we provide a step-by-step guide for creating an effective cover letter, with actionable cover letter tips to help you land your next healthcare job.
Essential Elements of a Cover Letter
Header, Contact Information and Salutation
First, start with the cover letter’s header to tie it to your resume and ensure the employer knows which applicant they’re reviewing. The header can be the same text and formatting you used in your resume’s header. Headers usually provide your essential contact information, including:
- Full name, followed by your credentials, if applicable
- Phone number
- Email address
Next, address the cover letter to the hiring manager’s name, demonstrating that you’ve written it for the specific position and it’s not a generic template. Including a personalized salutation shows you’ve taken the initiative to research information about the healthcare facility. A quick way to find out a hiring manager’s name is to search the internet, looking up the company and specific department. If that proves unsuccessful, try calling the company and asking for the hiring manager’s name. Alternatively, if you know someone who works at the company, ask if they have their contact information. Use the department name or a generic salutation as a last resort.
Grab the reader’s attention with a compelling hook in the opening paragraph to make them want to read the rest of your cover letter and resume. Share an impressive achievement relevant to the role or organization, like participating in shared governance, quality improvement projects or precepting nursing students. Highlight a mutual connection, or if someone referred you to the position, mention their name to help show credibility. Express your enthusiasm for the healthcare organization or role by researching and providing information about how the company or role aligns with your values and goals.
Next, summarize why you’re an ideal candidate for the position. Read the job posting, and be sure to highlight its primary requirements and how you match them in your opening paragraph.
Complementing Body Paragraphs
Next, you should write three body paragraphs that represent the bulk of the cover letter and include detailed specifics about how you align with the job and organization. Use these paragraphs to describe relevant skills, experience, motivation and goals, values and cultural fit.
Highlight Relevant Skills and Experience
In the first body paragraph, emphasize your qualifications, skills and experience. Review the job posting and pull out the key requirements and skills to serve as an outline. Provide relevant details about yourself, such as education and background, ensuring they align with the job posting.
For example, if the job requires a master’s degree, include your education in this paragraph. Or, if you’re applying for a position that requires a specific skill set, like an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse, showcase your past ICU experience. If you don’t have any ICU experience, showcase how your past nursing experience ties to the ICU nurse’s role. For instance, a cardiac step-down nurse would highlight their experience in caring for cardiac post-op patients, high patient acuity, communication and recognizing a deteriorating patient’s health.
New graduate healthcare professionals can detail their education and relevant volunteer experiences. Volunteering at a local hospital, medical mission work, or community service are all relevant. In addition, new graduates should include their clinical rotation experience and awards that demonstrate job role alignment and excellence.
Showcase Passion and Motivation
In the next body paragraph, showcase your soft or interpersonal skills. Illustrate your passion for the healthcare industry and your motivation to succeed. Use these cover letter tips for what to include in this paragraph:
- Showcase how you made a positive impact with a short story
- Highlight relevant volunteer experience or community involvement
- Emphasize why you enjoy patient care and the healthcare industry
- Share personal anecdotes pertinent to the role
Additionally, illustrate your motivation to succeed by providing your career interests, goals and aspirations. For instance, if you’re a cardiovascular technologist who works primarily in cardiac catheterization, mention that you’re working on obtaining a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist certification. Also, share any health or medical committees where you’re a member, as it shows commitment to the healthcare profession.
Demonstrate Cultural Fit
In the final paragraph, illustrate how you’re a cultural fit for the organization. This lets the hiring manager know you’ve researched the company and understand its goals. It also shows you’re engaged and willing to go the extra mile. As a healthcare professional, highlight the importance of effective communication, patient satisfaction and continued excellence. Healthcare organizations always seek technology and continuing education improvements, so detail how you’ve achieved this in the past or plan to achieve this in the future.
Research the company’s values, mission and culture, and detail how you align with their values by giving examples. For instance, if the organization’s vision is to provide world-class patient experiences, give an example of a past experience where you provided exceptional customer satisfaction. If they provide community outreach services, showcase how you’ve positively impacted your community. Discuss what other assets and positive attributes you offer as a healthcare professional.
Closing Paragraph of the Cover Letter
The closing paragraph of a healthcare cover letter should reiterate your interest in the position and leave a lasting impression. It’s your last opportunity to catch the reader’s attention and prompt them to act on your job application. Some closing paragraph cover letter tips include:
- Be succinct
- Summarize your pertinent skills and experiences
- Illustrate continued enthusiasm for the position
- Express gratitude for considering your application
- Thank them for their time
Additionally, provide your preferred contact method for further communication. Providing your availability for an interview and start date is also helpful, especially if you have a busy schedule. Refer back to the job posting, as sometimes availability and salary preferences are application requirements. If the company requests your salary requirement, research the average ranges with Vivian’s nursing salary guide or allied health salary tool. Provide a salary range, not a specific number, to leave room for negotiation, and always write that the salary is negotiable.
Lastly, provide a professional closing and signature or typed name. “Sincerely” is a common professional closing but is often overused. Some appropriate alternatives include:
- Best regards
- Thank you
- Kind regards
Avoid closings, like “yours truly” or “cheers,” since they can appear unprofessional. If you’re submitting your cover letter via email, remove your email signature and type your first and last name. Alternatively, if submitting a physical copy, print your first and last name, then sign the cover letter by hand.
Proofreading and Finalizing
Before submitting any cover letter or resume, proofread it for grammar, spelling and formatting errors. Since the cover letter serves as a first impression, it can make or break your continuation in the application process. Use spelling and grammar check tools available in word processing software or search online for free spelling and grammar tools.
Read the cover letter aloud, ensuring consistency and flow, or have a friend read it for a second pair of eyes and their opinion. Lastly, search for tips on perfecting a nursing resume or allied health professional cover letter to make it stand out amongst the others.
Remember, a well-constructed cover letter can be the gateway to landing a new nursing position or allied healthcare job. Begin your cover letter with the essentials, like header and salutation, then entice the reader with a compelling hook in the opening paragraph. Summarize skills and experiences, showcase your passion for healthcare and emphasize how you’re a cultural fit to the organization. Conclude with a closing paragraph that summarizes the key elements of the cover letter, and end with a professional closing. Remember to proofread your cover letter and finalize formatting details to demonstrate your thoroughness.
Explore the benefits of using a healthcare marketplace for your next job search. Search the many available HCP opportunities and quickly build a detailed resume by creating a Universal Profile with Vivian Health today.