First of all, do you need a cover letter? Why, yes you do. Thing is, most job announcements don’t even ask for one. They just say, “send your resume.” So, most hygienists think they don’t need to send one.
Regardless of that, there are some offices that do request one. So since you need to make one anyway, let’s make it REALLY look sharp and stand out.
And it truly is simple – in fact the simpler the better. So here’s the guts of a great cover letter:
1. Standard Heading – just like they taught you in typing class, begin with the date on the top left, return down a couple times and put the name of the office you are sending it to, followed by their address. Return down a couple more lines and add the salutation (“Dear All Smiles Dental,”). Your address/contact information can also go on the right-hand side, near the top, but I recommend that you either get letterhead (where it’s professionally printed on the page beforehand or creating a footer in the document and placing it at the bottom).
2. Paragraph One – You want to indicate you are aware of the dental hygiene job opening, where and when it was advertised to you, and that you would like to apply or be considered for the opening (all in one sentence).
3. Paragraph Two – Check the ad for any specific requirements and highlight one or two of the main ones (often it’s an RDH license or certain number of years). Use this paragraph to tell them you meet those qualifications (where you went to school and/or how many years of experience you have, for example). This, too, should only take one sentence.
4. Paragraph Three – Go back to the ad and look for specific extra things they want – maybe it’s someone “fun” or “hard-working” or “flexible”. Use this paragraph to acknowledge they are seeking someone with those qualities and that you believe that you are a great fit. That’s sentence one. Sentence two, you should give them a value-add or a bonus for hiring you. Say something like “Along with those qualities, I also offer several other great attributes and skills:” and then bullet out three to five things you think they would appreciate about you but that are not mentioned in the ad. I would suggest finding their website to see if you can see things that they value, not mentioned in the ad, that you can offer them as a bonus.
5. Paragraph Four – Here you want to close the letter, ask for the interview, and tell them how to reach you. Something like this: “I would love an opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you further or to demonstrate my ability to relate to patients through a working interview. You can reach me at…” Then finish it with “Sincerely,” your name, and RDH next to or under your name. If you are printing and dropping it off, include room between the Sincerely and your name for your signature. You could even scan your signature and drop it into the document as a permanent feature.
This letter should be very brief, very simple and get straight to the point. But it’s great because it gives you a change to reinforce what they are looking for, your personal brand, and how you are an ideal candidate that deserves an interview.
Now to really make it stand out, I would suggest a couple more things. First, print it on matching cover stock of paper to what you use for your resume – make it look like the two belong together.
And, second (if you can afford it), have some personalized stationary printed with your name and contact information on it. Something really sharp, with a professional look and feel. But again, if that’s not in the budget, purchase blank paper and create a footer with your name and contact information.
And one last tip. Keep the fonts on your resume and cover letter the same (consistent). I would recommend a conservative font (i.e. Times) that is about 10 or 11 point, depending on the font you end up using – 12 point is almost always too big, in my opinion.
GetHiredRDH.com of course has lots of resume templates you can purchase, but did you know each one includes a free template cover letter? It’s true and they are written out pretty much the way I described above.
As always, if you like these tips, we’d sure love it if you would share them with a friend.