How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

image of woman preparing document on laptop

Most people who are looking for a new job spend the majority of their time preparing their resume. After all, that’s the document where you’ll list your educational background, job history, certifications and licenses, and other vital information a prospective employer will use to determine whether to interview you for the position or not.

All this focus on the resume, though, often happens at the expense of the other important document you’ll send your prospective employer – the cover letter.

Writing an informative yet engaging cover letter is a challenge for a lot of people, but this short narrative (keep it to one page) is your best opportunity to add a personal touch to the straightforward information contained in your resume, as well as address some key points that cannot be easily addressed in the resume format. Here are some tips for doing it right:

  • Begin with a short statement indicating your background in respiratory care and the position you are seeking.
  • Study the job ad or description and then highlight 3-4 aspects of your training and background that pertain to the specific position. For example, if you are seeking to apply for a position in the ICU, emphasize your experience in ICU care and any special credentials or certifications you hold that pertain to that area, such as the Adult Critical Care Specialist credential from the NBRC.
  • Once you’ve covered your qualifications, address some of your soft skills that you believe will make you a stand-out candidate for the job. Let your prospective employer know you believe in putting the patient first, in using your assessment skills at every patient encounter to ensure the patient is receiving the care he needs, and in communicating effectively with the patient, the patient’s family, and your fellow caregivers about the best care for the patient both in the hospital and after discharge.
  • If you know your resume contains a red flag or two, use the cover letter to explain the situation. For example, if you have only been on your current job for a year or less, let your prospective employer know why you are considering a change as this time. Be sure to keep any statements along these lines positive and upbeat. In other words, instead of saying, “I see no opportunities for advancement at my current hospital” say “I have gained a wealth of experience at ABC hospital and am now ready to take on greater responsibility, hopefully by joining the staff at XYZ hospital.”
  • End your letter by thanking the hiring manager for the opportunity to submit a resume for the position, and note that you are looking forward to learning more about the job in an upcoming interview.

A short but engaging cover letter can go a long way towards convincing the hiring manager that you are the kind of person she wants on her staff.

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