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 work cover letter
View this sample cover letter for a social worker, or download the social work cover letter template in Word.
As a social worker, you know the value of the ability to multitask—so should your cover letter. To be considered for top social work jobs, your cover letter must demonstrate your skills and experience, as well as your passion for your clients. For writing tips, view this sample cover letter for social work, or download the social work cover letter template in Word.
Additionally, you can learn about health care careers and look for social worker jobs on Monster.
Social work letter template
Heather Jones, Lcsw
Sometown, CA 55555 | (555) 555-5555 | email@example.com
August 10, 2017
Dr. Regina Hall
Director of Social Work Services
55 West St.
Sometown, CA 55555
Re: Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Ref. #12345, Advertised on Monster
Dear Dr. Hall:
ABC Organization has earned a reputation for delivering on its mission to provide innovative clinical programming and unsurpassed patient care. I share this mission, and would welcome the chance to discuss ways I can contribute to the continued success of your social work program.
As a dedicated LCSW, my background includes 15 years as a residential counselor, homeless shelter social worker, clubhouse assistant director and crisis and family services specialist. Repeatedly recognized for excellence in leading program development, service implementation and supportive counseling, I have served populations presenting a range of neurological and psychological disorders as well as emotional, behavioral, substance abuse and developmental challenges.
In all experiences, I used a strengths-based approach in treatment planning and focused on providing optimal psychosocial care. Career highlights include:
- Working with DEF Hospital’s social services director to implement Together for Success program serving psychiatrically diagnosed adults who are experiencing a crisis. The program has helped 100+ patients, diverting them from hospitalization and reintegrating them into the community.
- Contributing vision and direction to GHI House’s clubhouse model that helped a newly opened program in Sometown County attain and maintain Clubhouse International accreditation.
- Increasing residential placements 64% by developing partnerships with area landlords to gain their support and agree to provide rental housing for homeless tenants.
After earning an MSW from Sometown University, I recently returned to pursue a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree with a concentration in mental health. I am an LCSW in the State of California.
My experience providing guidance, assessment and treatment for diverse patient populations combined with an ability to manage programs and build alliances would be valuable to your social work program. Please call me at (555) 555-5555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting. Thank you.
Heather Jones, LCSW
See all sample cover letters on Monster.