Having to talk about ourselves and our accolades is always difficult, especially for occupational therapists. Thus, creating an occupational therapy cover letter may feel overwhelming.
You might not even know where to begin and, if you aren’t a writer, you may spend many tedious hours trying to perfect every word before you feel comfortable sending it out. All of this, compounded with the stress of trying to apply to multiple jobs at a time, can lead you to want to avoid the cover letter all together.
It’s easy to cop out and take the easy route, but leaving out the cover letter will almost definitely get your occupational therapy resume tossed aside. And if you think about it, if all of the other applicants are omitting cover letters as well, writing a really solid occupational therapy cover letter already gives you a leg up against the competition.
Your occupational therapy cover letter conveys how seriously you’re taking the job application process, highlights your ability to communicate, and showcases how thoroughly you have researched the position and company before you applied. It also allows you to make a personal connection and impression on the hiring manager.
Fight the temptation to skip the occupational therapy cover letter!
This article aims to help you put together the ideal occupational therapy cover letter for whatever setting your future job is in. You can even download a sample of an occupational therapy cover letter at the end of the article!
The first paragraph of your occupational therapy cover letter serves as an introduction, where you state your interest in the occupational therapy position, making sure to include how you heard about the role.
When you introduce yourself in the cover letter, keep it brief. Don’t launch into your life story right away. Instead, keep it simple. Your occupational therapy credentials and your general awesomeness will be covered in the main body of the article.
A good statement of interest might read, “My name is Kevin Garvey, OTD, OTR/L, and I saw your ad for a skilled nursing facility occupational therapist posted on CovalentCareers.com. After carefully reading about the position and researching your organization, I am very excited about the role and believe I’d be a great match. I’d love the opportunity to discuss the role with you in greater detail.”
Your introduction tells the hiring manager that you took the time to read the job description and understand what is involved in the role….and that you’re still interested in the position.
Download the occupational therapy cover letter sample right now! 👇🏻
Paragraphs 2 and 3
Look at the next two paragraphs as the true heart of your cover letter.
This is where you’ll want to address the aspects of the facility that are most important the employer (per the job description) and show how you can both add value and solve the organization’s problems.
The occupational therapy cover letter is important for both you and your potential employer. It helps the hiring manager because it lets him or her know that you understand the specific needs or problem that the organization is facing...the very needs that are leading them to hire a new occupational therapist.
While you write the content of these paragraphs, it might suddenly dawn on you that you’re applying to a occupational therapy patient mill, which might make you want to run for the hills. But the same organization might have huge appeal to you (or another applicant). You might jump at the opportunity to treat tons of patients every day if you’ve been getting bored at your current job.
This is where you need to put on your research hat, and your self-reflection hat. If you’re planning on spending a significant part of each day with this organization, it’s worth spending a few hours to ensure you really understand what they’re all about.
Researching and writing the occupational therapy cover letter is helpful in two key ways.
- You will discover tons of information about the organization. Research will unearth vital info about the practice philosophy, department’s mission, patient load, and types of occupational therapy provided. If you’re applying to a department of a larger organization, this phase also tells you about the parent organization and what they value.
- You will learn whether the role is really right for you. What you dig up during your research should answer the question you should always ask yourself as you job search: “Does all of this information align with my goals?”
At the same time, the job could wind up sounding better than expected, so don’t rule out a job that seems only “okay” at first...you might find that a little research shows you it’s a match made in heaven!
Do you understand what the organization needs?
Occupational therapy private practice owners, multi-chain clinics, and large medical corporations have at least one thing in common: they all have a mission or brand that represents their philosophy. One could argue that if there is no mission or brand statement, it can be a red flag that the organization lacks focus.
You should be able to identify those values and brands by doing a little research.
Take a look at the website and any press releases you can find by doing a Google search. A brand could be “geriatric occupational therapy for underserved populations”, while another’s might be “cutting edge neuro rehab” An assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility (SNF) might use “a nurturing, caring, place to regain function.”
Make sure you understand the brand, and address how your experience will directly relate to their vision.
For example, imagine a SNF is looking for a staff OT to eventually help open the new location across town. Your section that identifies the facility’s “problems” could say something like,
“I am eager to contribute to the mission of DireWolf Skilled Nursing Facility, as I believe that providing client-centered occupational therapy to the geriatric population is the most rewarding aspect of my practice. My entrepreneurial nature will be well-suited to the needs of DireWolf, as your continual expansion efforts will depend on like-minded OTs joining the team. I managed the Lannister Diner in Quahog, RI for three years, and I am comfortable with the managerial and resource allocation demands that will inevitably crop up as the DireWolf brand expands. I’d love to stay with the DireWolf team for many years to come, your mission of “providing nurturing geriatric OT care” resonates with my own values. Plus, my wife’s parents live in DireWolf village, and I am eager to move closer to them so that our children can see their grandparents as they grow up.***
***If you have family ties to the area, mention them! But if all you want to do is snowboard or escape a crazy ex, keep it general. Hiring managers believe that they are investing in you, and they fear turnover. Assure them that you are committed to staying with them. Otherwise, hiring you would be wasting their time.
Sell yourself by explaining how you add value.
The cover letter also serves to say, “This is how I can help you.” This is where you should cherry pick the best parts of your resume and highlight them.
For example, if you’ve worked in a hospital-based inpatient occupational therapy department, but you’re applying for a private practice in hand therapy, highlight what you DO have. “My experience working for DireWolf Hospital has enabled me to treat patients with many different diagnoses, while enjoying a strong mentorship program from a team of specialist clinicians.” An outpatient occupational therapy clinic will be excited that you’ve already been groomed, trained, and mentored, enabling you to hit the ground running.
What if you’re making the opposite transition?
In this case, you can say, “My experience working for DireWolf OT Clinic has improved my flexibility, communication skills, time management, and ability to modify treatments for unique diagnoses.” The hospital hiring manager would think, “This applicant is used to high volume clinics, and won’t panic when things get busy.” By definition, managers have to manage; highlight the fact that you’ll make their job easier.
Look for parts of your resume that highlight your value.
Explaining how you can be a great addition in a hypothetical situation can work wonders. Can you start an autism club? Can you launch a blog? Expand the organization’s social media presence? Just be sure to work out the logistics before making any promises. You can be the best occupational therapist ever, but if you don’t have the intrinsic motivation or skills to make your promises come to life in the role, you could wind up being a bit of a disappointment.
The last paragraph rounds out your occupational therapy cover letter. Make sure that you include pertinent information about when you’re available to chat. Make sure to reiterate the fact that you are very excited about the role, and provide your phone number, email address, and that you’d love the opportunity to schedule a call or meeting to discuss the opportunity in more detail.
Final thoughts about your occupational therapy cover letter
Don’t worry. There’s no such thing as the “perfect occupational therapy cover letter” formula. Even if there were, it would be ineffective, because everyone would use it.
But there are still huge differences between a bad cover letter and one that will almost guarantee you an interview.
At the end of the day, the recipe is simple:
- Research to understand your potential employer
- Understand your experiences and strengths
- Present these experiences and strengths as ways to solve your potential employer’s problems.
- Show enthusiasm and passion for occupational therapy and make sure to get a trusted friend or colleague to read your letter for grammatical and spelling errors before you send it out.
Time to crush it!