Dear sir/ madam: The cover letter

Do you ask for a cover letter as well as a CV/resume in your job advertisement? If you do not, you are missing out on valuable and insightful information. Information that will help you to determine whether the applicant is the right fit for your job and your workplace.

If you consider the CV alone, it will tell you, what work history the candidate has. What qualifications they have, from where and when. What professional development they have done. What skills they have. If they have done anything special in their career. What their hobbies are and whether they have participated in volunteer work. That is about all. Just “the what”.
You do not get any of the “who” or the “why”.

By requesting a cover letter, you gather more information, to help you to determine whether it is worth your precious time interviewing a prospective candidate.

Here is an example of a standard cover letter.

To whom it may concern,

I am interested in applying for the position of Physiotherapist advertised at the Verybusyphysio clinic. Please find attached my resume. I am available for an interview at any time. Thank you for your consideration.

Yours sincerely……

Immediately, I am wondering if this person is interested in my job or any job? Have they identified all of the physio jobs going and sent everyone the same letter? Sometimes they have even left in the wrong clinic name.

Be specific that you will only accept applications with a cover letter. State that it should be no longer than one page and ask them to address the reason why they would like the position. Here is a couple of examples, that we have used in the past, one for an admin and the other for a clinical position.

  1. What will make you stand out?  Please read this advertisement carefully and write us a personal letter telling us why you are a good candidate.  Show us your personality and attention to detail. Please limit your letter to one page. Please attach the letter along with your resume.

2. Please attach a copy of your resume and cover letter detailing how your values would make you an asset to our team.  Please limit your letter to one page.

How does this help?

The way that the cover letter is framed will tell you whether the applicant is interested in your job or any job. It will tell you if they have qualities that you are looking for in your future employee. It might just tell you that they are good at writing a cover letter?

What are you looking for?

1) If there is no cover letter attached there is cause for concern as it is a sign that the person cannot follow instructions.
2) The letter is specifically addressed to your practice. Bonus points if they address it to the owners of the practice or the name of the person on the job advertisement and not just “to whom it may concern”.
3) Are there spelling mistakes or glaring grammatical errors that show that their written communication is not up to standard? Remember that most practices are seeking someone with “excellent written communication skills”.
4) Have they answered or referred to your specific requests in the advertisement? For example, have they told you why they are a good candidate, shown their personality, or detailed their values?
5) Bonus points, again, if they make references to having had a look at your website. Or if you know that they have taken the time to ring the practice to find out who to address the cover letter to.
6) Is the letter one page long and does it give you a feel for your prospective employee?

This may sound like a lot of extra work and feel like it slows everything down if you are desperate for staff. There are considerable benefits in being steady and particular about the process. I am not saying to reject the candidate on a cover letter or lack of one. It is another piece of the puzzle and gives you information that you might like to bring up on the phone, at an interview, or ask their referees.

Gather as much information in as many ways as possible and bring it all together. It will reduce potential time and emotional energy later when you have to manage them because you have not used every opportunity to find out who you are employing. There are also considerable impacts to your team by making “wrong choices”. It is worth the extra steps.

Decided on your candidates? Send them an email and ask them to call you

Dianna Howell Certmgr MIML MAPA

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