Cover letters and thank you notes can be very effective tools to make your job application stand out. Resumes are critical and often looked at first, but cover letters and thank you notes can add helpful context and highlight positives or address potential concerns in a way a resume alone cannot.
There are a ton of resources on line and available at college career centers about how to write a strong cover letter or thank you note. Some helpful resources and examples can be found [here].
For pre-heath students applying for clinical positions, when you are thinking about what to include in a cover letter or thank you note – here are some ideas.
First, it can be helpful to understand what some of the general concerns are that healthcare employers have about hiring pre-health graduates into clinical positions. Three questions that come up frequently include how long a candidate will stay, how much time will I have to spend training, and is this candidate going to be living close by (check out our CapYear article on questions employers ask for more details).
This information may or may not be well captured on your resume but can matter a lot to an employer. For example, mentioning in a cover letter that you are committed to a minimum of 12 months or are still a year away from applying to school can help address the question about how long you will stay. You may not be a certified medical assistant but perhaps there are clinical skills you have learned during a summer job or customer service skills you have developed in different jobs that would be transferable and shorten the training time. You can highlight why you plan to move to their area (it’s home, its where you currently go to school). I would generally shy away from saying you would be happy to move mainly for the position – fair or not in every case, generally employers tend to be skeptical of that.
Thank you notes a good professional practice. Employers notice who follows up. You can use thank you notes to reiterate your own highlights or mention a point that you were not able to bring up in the interview that strengthens your candidacy. You can’t go wrong focusing on timing, training and location generally as well as positive aspects of your unique application. There are lots of good example of thank you note available online or at your university career center.