Cover Letter and Resume Writing Tips
1) Describe WHY you’re interested in the position. Maybe you’ve known that you wanted to practice CA since the day you enrolled in acupuncture school. Maybe you’ve struggled to build a boutique practice, or you’ve had too many patients who’ve had to stop getting treatments because it was too expensive. Maybe you come from a working-class background and want to provide affordable care for your friends and family. Maybe you’re up for an adventure. There are many reasons why you might apply for the job, and the clinic owner wants to know. What has brought you here?
2) Demonstrate that you have some interest in practicing CA style, even if you don’t have experience in a CA setting. If you read through a few job announcements for CA clinics, you’ll notice a theme: almost all of them will indicate that the most important qualification for the job is a passion for Community Acupuncture. Clinic owners want to hire punks who love CA, not someone who is just looking for a job. If you’ve practiced in a CA setting before, describe why you love it. If you haven’t, that’s okay too, but talk about the aspects of CA that are particularly interesting to you and what you want to learn more about. Maybe you’ve been treated at a CA clinic – talk about your experience as a CA patient. Refer to interesting blogs you’ve read on POCA, or your favorite part of Acupuncture is Like Noodles. Show that you’ve done your research and you’re enthusiastic about CA.
3) Include your non-acupuncture work experience. CA punks need a varied skill set, many of which are learned in non-clinical settings. For example, an applicant who has experience waiting tables will probably work well in a fast-paced environment. An applicant who has experience as a teacher is probably a great listener. Many acupuncturists don’t have experience working in a CA setting, so employers are looking for how those important skills may have been honed in other work settings.
4) Give an indication that you thoroughly read the job announcement. Clinic owners write detailed job announcements for a reason – they want the applicant to have some knowledge about what they’re getting themselves into before they apply. If the job announcement requests that you read certain material or watch a certain video before sending in your resume, do it. And then reference that in your cover letter. Share your thoughts on what you’ve learned. Clinic owners want to know that you’ve done your homework. Also, most job announcements will include instructions on how to apply for the job. Follow them. If it says “email cover letter and resume” or “no phone calls,” be respectful of the clinic owner’s wishes.
5) Include continuing education that is relevant to a CA setting such as Balance Method or Master Tung, or is on a subject that is of particular interest to you, such as infertility or pediatrics. Don’t include a lengthy description of your acupuncture and herbal education; we all went to acupuncture school. If you have an acupuncture degree, a license to practice, and/or NCCAOM certification, then a clinic owner will already know what your basic clinical skill set is.
6) Be honest. Please don’t misrepresent yourself, or outright lie. There is no shame in being a new or inexperienced practitioner, and there is no need to exaggerate or embellish your resume. Clinics owners are generally looking for applicants who are enthusiastic about Community Acupuncture and willing to adopt new ways of doing things. The CA mindset is a more important qualification than years of clinical experience.
7) List dates. This is simply to help a clinic owner get a well-rounded picture of your education and work experience. You will most likely end up being asked questions such as “When did you graduate?” or “How long did you work there?” Listing dates up front eliminates the need for those questions in the interview, so that you have time to discuss more important things, like why you’re passionate about Community Acupuncture!
8) Show some humility. It’s fine to have confidence in your skills as a clinician, but practicing CA will require a sometimes radical change in your mindset and the way you approach every aspect of patient care. Clinic owners want to hire acupuncturists who can change, learn and grow. Be willing to give up some old ways of doing things and try new ways. As CA punks we don’t consider ourselves gurus or experts; we know we don’t have all the answers. An applicant who thinks they already know everything is probably not the right fit for a CA clinic.
9) Proofread before you send. Typos, misspellings, poor grammar and punctuation, broken links and the like are a sign of carelessness. A clinic owner may interpret this in a number of ways: they may think that you have a tendency towards sloppy work, or that you don’t take the time to do things correctly, or that if you didn’t care enough to proofread your work, you may not be all that interested in the job. Don’t let a messy resume and cover letter send the wrong message.
10) After your interview (which you’re sure to land with your stellar cover letter and resume), always send a thank-you note. An emailed thank-you is fine; a handwritten note is better. There are two reasons why you should send a thank-you note. First of all, it’s the polite thing to do. Secondly, it’s a great way to let the clinic owner know that you’re interested in the position, that you’ve carefully considered the job offer and all that the position entails, and that you feel you’re the right person for the job. And, if you decide that the position is not right for you, this is an opportunity to gracefully say that you’re not interested, and thank the clinic owner for his/her time.
How to Apply for a Job in a POCA Clinic
Part 4 Suzzannes 10 Tips on How to Land Your First CA Job