Whether you are a newly qualified physical therapist or one who has been in the field for many years, at some time or the other you will have to apply for a job, which requires a resume accompanied by a physical therapy cover letter. Knowing how to construct the perfect resume and covering letter is very important as a badly written one could cost you dearly.
An ill-written physical therapy cover letter, or a resume that is not accompanied by a cover letter, may be added to the pile of those that will not be read, or could even end up in the ubiquitous “File 13”; in other words, the trash. You will never know that, but may wonder why you never get any of the jobs for which you have applied, or never even hear from the institutions to which you have applied for employment.
The Importance Of A Physical Therapy Cover Letter
Many people do not understand the value of and reason for a well-formulated cover letter if they have already compiled a resume with all the relevant information in it. The reason for the covering letter is because there are so many applications for each and every post that the prospective employer can impossibly read through all of them.
A cover letter is a document that the prospective employer can quickly scan and which will inform them as to whether you could be right for the position or not. It is for this reason that you need to ensure that your cover letter contains all the pertinent information and is well formatted. Your resume will indicate your qualifications, but your cover letter will offer some insight as to you as a person, not just another applicant who has the same qualifications as your fellow applicants.
Neglecting your cover letter in the extremely competitive job market of today would be a huge mistake on your part as it is an important tool in your job search, and is a bit like a written interview. There is a certain etiquette and some definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to this.
How To Format Your Cover Letter
The format of your physical therapy cover letter is very important, as it needs to be formal, concise, easy to read, and grab the attention of the reader. The best format for an easy-to-read cover letter is as follows:
- Heading/Date/Address – the design of your cover letter should match your resume. Use a clear font and a standard business-letter format.
- Salutation – the correct salutation is to address your letter to a specific person. If the advertisement does not mention a name, you can easily phone the institution and find out to whom your resume should be sent. Avoid impersonal greetings such as “To Whom it May Concern” and “Dear Madam/Sir.”
- Opening Paragraph – this should clearly state the position for which you are applying and include a reference code if one was given in the advertisement. Include any referral source such as a recommendation from a current employer. You could also include a brief synopsis of why you are the best candidate for the position; mention your experience and any specialties.
- Body – this is the portion of your physical therapy cover letter in which you sell yourself. Do not offer your entire life-story, but do tell the hiring manager why you are the best person for the position. Focus on your qualifications, your relevant educational background and any certificate courses that you have done. Mention the institution from which you graduated, where you did your clinical internship, and how many years experience you have. Tell them how your experience, credentials and track record would benefit their business or institution. Include a bulleted list of your achievements, credentials or key strengths. Be positive and upbeat and keep it light and to the point.
- Closing paragraph – use this portion to express your interest in an interview; include your phone numbers and/or state that you will be in contact soon to confirm their receipt of your resume and to arrange a face-to-face meeting.
- Closing – end off with a complimentary professional closing such as “Sincerely,” “Respectfully Yours,” or “Best Regards.”
- Enclosures – note the enclosures that you are attaching, such as your resume, certificates and referral letters right at the end of the covering letter.
Main Points To Mention
The most important details that must be mentioned in your physical therapy cover letter are where and when you qualified, and where you worked previously. It is also important to mention what your experience was, such as working with the elderly or your work with patients who lost muscle strength due to accidents, geriatric care, or long-term care for patients rehabilitating from trauma and illnesses.
Mention your membership of any associations such as the National Association of Physical Therapists. Include any extra certifications, degrees and credentials such as BLS and CPR certifications; as the more backing you have, the more appealing you will seem.
Highlight your strengths, such as your excellent communication skills, your ability to work under pressure, and your ability to handle big case-loads in acute-care settings. The fact that you are a team-player illustrates that you can take direction but can also think on your feet, and your dedication and passion for your chosen career are all positive traits.
Put Yourself In The Employer’s Position
The best way to make sure that you include everything that is important in your physical therapy cover letter and which can give you an edge over other applicants is to put yourself in the prospective employer’s position and think what you would like from the perfect applicant.
Employers put great stock in individuals who are board-certified with American Physical Therapy Association, which is a voluntary advanced credential. Further study shows a dedication to your field. It is important to them what you have studied, what you have done and how well you performed, so when compiling the main section of your covering letter be sure to include:
- Any further studies you have done, especially any specialty certification.
- Any advanced clinical skills you have experience in, such as brain mapping and muscle coordination.
- Caseloads you have managed.
- Contributions you may have made toward Physical Therapy program improvement.
- Patient success stories.
- Rehabilitative treatments or modalities you have administered.
- Types of equipment/technology you have used.
- Volunteer work.
- Work settings such as acute care, outpatient care, sports science center.
What To Include And Avoid In Your Physical Therapy Cover Letter
There are certain things which are a definite no-no when it comes to compiling your cover letter, and other things which are crucial to remember to do or include:
- Do personalize your letter:
A cover-letter that begins with “To Whom it May Concern” is impersonal and smacks of someone who could not be bothered to take the time to construct a specific letter for a specific position but just churns out generic letters. If you would like the company to take you seriously and the manager to take the time to read through your letter then you need to pay them the honor of addressing the manager by name.
- Do focus on the specific position advertised:
Companies or institutions advertising a position mention exactly what they are looking for in an applicant, so address that position by highlighting your talents in that direction. Do this in draft format before writing the actual cover letter by making two columns, one with what the company requires and the other with your experience and qualifications. This will help you to marry the two in your letter.
- Do get to the point quickly:
Managers receive hundreds of applications for every position and do not have the time to read lengthy, convoluted letters. Stick tot the format mentioned above and state everything simply and briefly; your resume will expand on the details.
- Do write, proofread and edit your letter carefully:
Your physical therapy cover letter must be professional and reflect your personality and work ethics. A sloppy letter with typos and spelling mistakes will make the reader think that you are sloppy and careless in your work too, and you will not get the job. Make sure that you proofread your cover letter and ensure that there are no spelling errors, incorrect information, or typos. Double check the spelling of the company’s name and the name of the person to whom you have addressed the letter. Make sure that you remember to sign the letter.
- Don’t send a generic cover letter:
Hiring managers read thousands of applications and can spot a generic letter a mile away, and this type of letter ends up in the bin. Take the time to do some research on the company and incorporate what you found out into your letter; this will get their attention as it will demonstrate attention to detail and motivation. You will not get away with simply downloading a generic format from the internet and simply injecting your own details.
- Don’t make the manager stress to ascertain that you are right for the position:
Give an example of your experiences in the tasks that the position requires. Mention your qualifications that make you the ideal candidate. Relate a difficult experience that you had and how you dealt with it.
- Don’t conclude your letter passively:
Don’t just send a resume and then await the phone call. Take the initiative by closing your physical therapy cover letter with “I will call you next week to arrange a time for us to meet for a face-to-face interview” instead of “I look forward to hearing from you.” Make sure that you do phone.
Make sure that you research the company, compile a professional physical therapy cover letter personally addressed to the hiring manager to send with your resume, and include all relevant information in a professional manner and you have already got one foot in the door.