One of the most forgotten dental hygiene job marketing tools is a great cover letter. It’s easy to understand in that many employers also neglect to ask for one.
For some, it seems to be a formality that really doesn’t matter much. But not providing one is missing a great opportunity to firmly establish your qualifications, showcase your personal brand and make important connections with employers.
Furthermore, whether they request one or not, a cover letter done right way is impressive and one more way to differentiate yourself. So here are six elements of a great dental hygiene cover letter:
A cover letter should never be more than a page. In fact, if you get too “wordy” on your one page, employers will either ignore or skim it. Keep it 5-6 paragraphs of 1-3 sentences each. Remember, you are only one of dozens of applicants – there simply isn’t time to read a lengthy cover letter from every applicant. Employers will read the shortest, quickest ones.
No two cover letters you produce should be exactly alike. If they are, don’t bother sending one. Cover letters need to be customized to the specific position you are seeking. To do that, carefully review the description and qualifications of the job and then address each of those elements.
If the job opening states they want someone who has two-years of experience you need to let them know you have that. If they want someone with training in diode lasers, mention your training and experience. If you don’t have a particular qualification, you should acknowledge that, too, but then follow it up with a reason as to how you make up for it.
Note: Don’t despair if you don’t meet one particular qualification. Lots of employers are willing to overlook that if you are superior in other ways. You’ll find less forgiveness in government-sector jobs, but private sector offices are usually very flexible for the right candidate.
Make it Error-Free
Just like your resume, proof-read the heck out of your cover letter (get a friend to help). If you have trouble writing this document, employers will assume you have trouble communicating on charts, notes and other written forms of communication within the office.
Bullets have proven to be an effective tool for ensuring employers read your content. They give the eyes a visual cue that you have something very short and simple to communicate. So, in one of your paragraphs, create a bullet list of three-to-five qualifications you have for the job (hard or soft qualifications), and try to keep them to one line each (no text wrap).
Create a Consistent Design
Create a subtle design scheme that matches your resume. If your resume uses color, use a little bit of color; if you resume has your name in a big font at the top, do something similar on the cover letter. The point is to make your cover letter and resume look like they are companion pieces that go together.
Create a Simple Anatomy
Again, cover letters are customized each time you send one, but they do have a basic anatomy and here’s one I recommend:
- Paragraph 1 – Acknowledge the Job: Let the employer know in the first paragraph where you heard about the job and that you are applying for it.
- Paragraph 2 – Acknowledge technical qualifications: If they want someone with two years clinical experience and experience working with Dentrix, you want to acknowledge those things early on.
- Paragraph 3 – Acknowledge soft qualifications: They may also want a certain personality type or someone with other intangible skills, such as a “hard-worker” or “team-player” so in your third paragraph confirm you meet those needs.
- Paragraph 3.5 – Transition to your personal brand: I like using paragraph three as a great way to transition into some bullets that describe your personal brand. After confirming the soft qualifications, I will often write something like this: “Along with those qualifications, I am guessing you seek an employee who is…” and bullet 3-5 traits that make up your personal brand.
- Paragraph 4 – Ask for an interview: Always finish your cover letter with a short, yet clear statement that you would appreciate an opportunity for an interview. Here’s how I word it: “I would be pleased to discuss how I am a great fit for your office at a time that is convenient for you. Please call me at 000-000-000.”
- Add your name and signature, and don’t forget to add your hard-earned credentials “RDH” after your name.