by Valerie Arendt, MSW, MPP
Should you submit a cover letter when one is not required? The answer is yes. Cover letters are essential to getting an interview. They are a concise way to communicate your value to an organization, and hiring managers do use them to winnow candidates. Your cover letter should tell the employer that you are the perfect match for the position. Do this by using the language from the job description and organizational mission. It is essential to tailor your cover letter to the specific job.
Here are some basics for writing an interview-winning cover letter:
- Salutation: Find out who will be reading your letter. This is essential. If it is easy to find out who will be reviewing applications and you don’t take the time to do this, they probably won’t take the time to read your letter.
- Name of Organization and Position Title: The organization may have multiple openings. Be sure to indicate which position you are applying for.
- Referral Source: If someone in or close to the organization suggested you apply for this job, mention that person in the cover letter. This will let the reader know you have a connection to the organization and will score big points.
- Why do you want to work for them? You need to describe to your reader how the organization’s mission and goals are a good fit for you professionally. This shows them you know about the organization and have done your homework.
- What can you do for their clients/organization? Sell yourself. Let them know how your experience and education is a perfect match for the position and a good fit for the organization. This is where you use the keywords from the job description to really hit it home that you are a candidate worthy of an interview.
Below is a real job description with keywords highlighted. If you have the experience they are looking for, you should invariably use the same language in your cover letter.
Title: Social Worker
Job Details: Responsible for completion of psychosocial assessment of patients and families enrolled in Hospice. Will work as part of a team to address end-of-life needs, some counseling and emphasis on case management. Able to access homes in Moore & Montgomery County service areas. Must be able to take call rotation. Strong organizational skills needed.
After a strong introductory paragraph, the body of your cover letter should be concise and address the two to four most important details from the job description:
My experience and areas of expertise are an excellent match for the requirements stated in your announcement:'
- Hospice Assessments: As a clinician with St. John’s Hospital, I prepared extensive psychosocial assessments and treatment plans for patients.
- End-of-Life Care: I provided counseling and accurate case management to more than 1,000 patients and their families over 7 years as a member of the St. John’s Hospital end-of-life team.
- Home Visits: I made regular home visits to hospice patients in Moore and Montgomery Counties and was responsible for two on-call shifts per month.
Close by stating that your experience and passion make you a perfect fit for the employer. Include the best way for them to contact you for an interview.
Social Worker Cover Letter Sample 1:
I am interested in applying for the Social Worker position that you are currently looking to fill. I possess a Master’s Degree in Social Work from an Accredited School of Social Work and am licensed in the State of Michigan at clinical and macro levels. In addition I hold a Hospital and Health Systems Accreditation in Case Management as well as being certified as a senior advisor. I have worked within a variety of settings with diverse individuals providing me with numerous and valuable experiences. My career has given me the ability to independently conduct assessments and provide help to a wide variety of individuals from various socio-economic, cultural, ethnic, educational and other diversified backgrounds.
My ability to utilize community resources and provide education to those in need is essential for a Social Worker. Thinking outside the box in order to meet any unique needs that may come up unexpectedly requires an immediate reassessment and prompt action to execute. Being able to think fast on your feet is part of the advance skills that I bring to the table.
My advanced assessment and treatment skills help prepare families with a wide range of social, emotional, and health related problems. I have collaborated with health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, case managers and spiritual care. I have evaluated the social and emotional needs of families to determine the types of social work services needed.
My career has allowed me to complete a range of advanced social work methods with families, individuals and groups demonstrating my mature skills in casework with even the most difficult clients and their families. I am also proficient collaborating with the relevant interdisciplinary teams, committees, and utilizing community resources to most appropriately meet the needs of the clientele.
While my resume and credentials attest to my professional qualifications, I have many additional personal experiences that support my knowledge and sensitivity. I offer commitment, excitement, organization, passion and professionalism: qualities that are necessary for providing leadership and promoting a positive work environment and client relationship.
After you have had a chance to review my employment history and responsibilities, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss further the positions for which you are willing to hire.
Social Worker Cover Letter Sample 2:
I am writing to apply for the Social Worker, MSW position in Pediatrics. I became aware of the position through an academic advisor who was aware of my interest in pediatric social work. I recently earned my Master of Social Work at the Benedict School of Social Work at New York University in March of this year. I am currently in the process of becoming a licensed Master of Social Work in both New York and New Jersey.
I have extensive experience working with children and adolescents in foster care and school settings. I worked as a social work intern and an associate social worker at the Beacon Child Care Center in New York City last year. I held a case load of 6-7 children as an intern and 30 children as an associate social worker along with a MSW case planner. Together, we performed school visits, court hearings, home visits to both foster and biological families and supervised family and sibling visits. I also performed individual supportive counseling sessions with foster and biological families and foster children.
In addition to my work with children, I also have experience working in an adult impatient hematology and oncology unit at New York University’s Langone Medical Center as an intern this past year. I performed psychosocial assessments, held family meetings, provided supportive and therapeutic counseling sessions with family and patients. I used cognitive behavioral and crisis intervention techniques when counseling my patients. I also created discharge plans for patients and worked closely and maintained communication with the hospital’s medical team.
During my advanced concentration year at New York University, I became involved with the Zelda Foster Studies Program in Palliative and End of Life Care as a fellow. I am very passionate about palliative care with regards to children and pediatrics. As an intern at NYU Langone Medical Center, I provided end of life and bereavement counseling with patients and families. I also became familiar with hospice and palliative care facilities and programs throughout New York and New Jersey so I could educate and create discharge plans for my patients upon their discharge from the unit.
Along with my clinical skills, I believe my training and experience have provided me with the knowledge to become a part of your social work department with your pediatrics team. Thank you very much for your time and consideration for the position. I hope to hear from you. I can be reached directly at either my email address or phone number included.
Social Worker Cover Letter Sample 3:
My name is Mary Kendricks and I am interested in the social work position within your company. I think this position would be a perfect fit as it will allow me to utilize my education and social work experience; as well as my passion for promoting the well-being of children and their families.
My most recent experience includes medical social work at Rising Hope Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada. As both a practicum student and now an employee, I have worked on the pediatric, maternal infant, pediatric intensive care and neonatal intensive care units, as well as the emergency room and trauma unit. I have excelled in this culturally diverse, multi-disciplinary, fast-paced environment and have witnessed firsthand the impact policies and the current status of the economy affect children and families access to both preventative and routine social services and healthcare.
Prior to this experience in Las Vegas, I have provided school social work services at both Monroe Elementary School and West Heights Elementary School. At these schools I conducted assessments and provided counseling services to at-risk youth and their families. Additionally, I have dedicated my previous work and volunteer experiences to children and families battling chronic illnesses and adults near the end of their lives, which has allowed me to develop distinguishing characteristics that I can bring to your organization. I am committed to working with underserved and diverse families during times of crisis.
Enclosed please find my resume for review. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to meeting with you personally.