Popular opinion varies on the importance of cover letters in the hiring process. Fewer than 25% of Dentists include a former cover letter when applying for a job, yet this is often the only way for a job seeker to tailor his or her achievements to suit the hiring practice. It is important to remember that CVs and resumes highlight achievements but do not tell the whole story. Cover letters can add a touch of personality and humanity to help a job seeker stand out among the pile of CVs.
When writing a cover letter, keep in mind that all cover letters should:
• Explain why you are interested in the position and why you are looking for a job
• Include how you became aware of the position or why you contacted them if you are not aware that they have a position to offer.
• Express your personality, communication skills and motivation.
• Highlight components of your background that would be particularly suited to the practice or the particular position.
• Convince the hiring dentist to take another look at your CV.
Brevity is important. While you want to effectively highlight your best qualities you must keep in mind that the reader likely has little time to dedicate to sifting through applicant information. Your cover letter must never exceed one page in length and is generally most effective if confined to three to four paragraphs.
This first paragraph should be a general introduction. This is where you should explain your interest, reveal how you came to be aware of the position, and summarize why you could be a good match.
The second paragraph should be all about you. This is where you highlight your accomplishments, tell your story, explain your motivation and add personality. Don’t be afraid to get somewhat personal as long as you remain generally professional. This can be a tricky balance. If you cannot keep this to one paragraph, you can consider splitting into two.
The third paragraph is all business. This is where you ask for the job interview. Explain the follow up steps that you indicate to take. If you will be visiting the area soon, include the dates here. Be sure to close by thanking the hiring dentist for his time.
While drafting a cover letter, keep in mind that the hiring authority will judge your communication skills. Be sure to abide by the format of a formal business letter. Also, have a friend proofread your letter.
A sample cover letter is available at this link to our earlier blog on dentist cover letters.