Follow these steps to take the pain out of writing your next cover letter
Writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Sometimes it’s especially hard if you have to write about yourself – like in a cover letter for a job application, where you really want to outshine the competition. But don’t worry, we are here to help! Try following these steps to make the writing process easier and to avoid some common mistakes.
- Know your purpose. While your goal is to get the job you are applying for, the purpose of the cover letter is twofold: get the hiring manager to review your resume and call you for an interview. It sounds easy but most hiring managers receive a pile of applications for every job. How do you get your application to the next level?
The cover letter is your opportunity to speak directly to the hiring manager. You want to point out one or two highlights from your entire resume that showcase how you would be a good match. Find examples that show how you would be a strong fit for the position. Refer to the job ad to match your experiences to what the employer wants.
- Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. If you understand what the hiring manager will be looking for when reading your cover letter, it will help you make sure that you touch upon the information that he or she needs.
As you write your letter, think about what information would be most useful to the person reading it. For example, the hiring manager who is seeking a new medical assistant for his practice may be looking for someone with an understanding of medical terms, evidence that you will work well with others because you will interact with patients and other staff members, and that you handle pressure well since the job will require multiple tasks and you need to keep the office running smoothly and on time.
To help you as you write, copy the terminology that the hiring manager uses in the job ad. These key words may not only catch the attention of the hiring manager but will help your letter be picked up by computerized resume tracking systems.
- Brainstorm before you write. Take the time to think of relevant examples of how you can show how your skills match the available position. Write them all down, trying to come up with as many ideas as possible.
Think back to your audience: the hiring manager. Brainstorm about what needs the position calls for. Pair the needs with your skills and experience.
- Draft your letter. At this point you are ready to begin writing. The first draft is your opportunity to put all your thoughts on paper. Don’t worry about the letter being too long. Keep the structure simple.
Paragraph 1: intro, express your interest in the job and where you saw the job ad (if someone referred you to the position, mention who in the beginning)
Middle paragraphs: describe how your experiences and education matches the job description and explain how you would add value—you want to use examples to tie your skills and accomplishments to the specific goals indicated in the job ad
Conclusion: thank the reader for his/her consideration, repeat your interest in the position, and tell how you plan to follow up
- Revise and proof. To take your letter to the next level, determine which examples and points are the strongest and best show how you would bring value to the position and eliminate the weaker ones. Once you are happy with your draft, give it a trusted friend, mentor, or Career Advisor to proofread.
The do’s and don’ts of cover letter writing
As you prepare your cover letters, here are some additional tips that may help your letter get a closer look:
- Take time with your cover letter—it’s an important part of your application
- Customize each letter—direct your letter to the specific organization and hiring manager
- Speak to the job requirements listed in the ad
- Distinguish yourself from other job seekers by quantifying and giving examples of the skills you make
- Be courteous—your letter should be professional and respectful
- Keep your letter to one page
- Proofread a lot—typos and grammatical errors can prevent you from making it to the next step in the interview process
- Rush through your letter writing—the cover letter is an important part of the hiring manager’s decision process
- Sound arrogant—try and use your strengths to show you bring value without boasting
- Rehash your resume
- Don’t call the employer if the listing requests no phone calls
It can be useful to look at sample cover letters as you write your own. Below is a basic format you could use to get started.
Sample Professional Medical Assistant Cover Letter
Ms. Sue Smith
1 Eagle Drive
Sanford, ME 04073
Linkedin profile URL
December 17, 2017
Ms. Melanie Johnson
Any Medical Group
Sanford, ME 04073
Dear Ms. Johnson:
Please accept my application for the Medical Assistant position you advertised on LinkedIn. My recent training at The Seacoast Career Schools has prepared me to meet your clinic’s high standard of care.
I believe I can contribute to your practice’s success with my skill set and hands-on experience in performing both clinical and administrative tasks. I am confident in my skills to take patient vital signs, administer injections, draw blood, administer EKG/ECG, perform first aid and CPR, schedule appointments, and use billing software. Furthermore, my familiarity with state-of-the-art technology would make me a valuable asset to your medical team.
In addition to my theoretical training, I completed an externship at XYZ Medical Associates. At XYZ, I had the opportunity to apply what I learned to a real-world setting. I recorded patient histories, prepared exam rooms, and helped with administrative tasks, such as meeting and greeting patients and scheduling appointments. My performance evaluation was positive, and my supervisor commented on my attention to details and ability to connect with patients.
I would be appreciative for the opportunity to discuss how my education, experience, and skills would be an asset to your practice. I have enclosed my resume and am happy to share my transcript from the Seacoast Career Schools. I will call your office on Tuesday of next week to see if you need any additional information from me. Thank you for your consideration.
We hope that these tips help get your cover letter noticed! Good luck as you start your journey on your new career path!
This blog is part of The Seacoast Career Schools weekly blog where we provide job search tips to help support our students as they transition into new careers. If you are interested in our career training programs, please explore our options, request information, schedule a tour at one of our campuses, or call a Career Advisor at 800-758-7679.