By Adam Okada
One tip I always give to my students before applying into a technician position within the Sterile Processing Department is the importance of a cover letter. A Sterile Processing Technician cover letter is essentially a message to the Recruiter and Hiring Manager at the facility that you have read the job description, and feel that you would be well-suited for the position. And from my experience, it may be the single most important thing that you can do to help yourself get that elusive first job in the Sterile Processing Department.
Why Should I Write a Cover Letter?
A resume alone is a rather impersonal document. It should detail a brief work history, your education and accomplishments, and some professional references for recruiters to follow up with. But the cover letter is what provides that personal touch. This is a direct message to the recruiter and hiring manager stating that you have read the job description for the specific position that you are applying for, and that you feel that you are an ideal candidate to fill that role within their organization. Here you can provide details on what let you to a position in sterile processing, your training or experience in the field (or related fields), and most importantly, let them know that you are excited about the opportunity to work for their facility. Most hiring managers that I have met will take applications far more seriously with a cover letter, and it vastly increases your chances of getting an interview for the position.
What Goes in a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a formal business letter document, so make sure you understand the basics and format of how to write a professional business letter. A sample will be included at the end of this article. The basics will include:
- Your name and contact information at the top or top/right of the letter
- Attn: name, title, and address of the recruiting or hiring manager at the top/left
- Make sure to put a recent date on the letter so they know you have completed it recently
- A formal salutation or greeting (Dear Mr. Blank, or Dear Hiring Manager, if you don’t know the name)
- Your letter detailing your interest in interviewing for the specific position posted (be specific!)
- A formal closing (Sincerely, or Cordially,)
- Your name and signature at the bottom
How and Where to Submit your Cover Letter
Now that you’ve written a professional and personalized cover letter, what do you do with it? If you are applying for a specific position online, there is usually a part in the application process which will ask you to upload a resume. They might specifically have a section to upload the cover letter separately, but if not, feel free to upload both the resume and the cover letter together. This article is being written in the time of COVID-19, so some of this information does not apply to a hospital that is restricted, but I’ll state it here anyway. It’s always best if you can call ahead to find out who the hiring manager is for the job opening you are applying for. Here’s how it works:
- Call the main hospital line which can almost always be found on a quick Google search
- Ask the operator to connect you with Sterile Processing
- Once SPD answers, explain that you are a prospective employee and ask them the name of their manager.
Once you know that manager’s name, you can use it on your cover letter (a nice detailed touch to personalize your cover letter), and you can also use it to visit the facility in person. I always like it when a prospective employee comes to me in person to state their interest in a position. If they are motivated enough to go the trouble of getting dressed up, delivering their resume and cover letter in person, and talk to me about their interest in a position, it really tells me a lot about their desire and drive to get that open spot.
Again, during a pandemic, showing up unannounced at a hospital is probably the last thing you should do, so this piece of advice only applies to non-pandemic times.
Do I Need to Create a New Cover Letter for Each Job Application?
The short answer is yes. But once you have a solid template for your cover letter, you can use that to build out the next one, and the one after that. Just make sure that you change the details for the facility and hiring manager, and then change the body of your letter to be specific to the new role. Remember that if you use the old facility or job title on your application for your new position, it may defeat the purpose of submitting a cover letter. Always keep your cover letter updated and specific for each individual job that you apply for.
Sample Cover Letter:
Here you can download a sample of my generic cover letter for Sterile Processing Technician positions. Make sure to replace all the yellow highlighted material!