Resumes/cover letters for clinical positions
April 23, 2015 11:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm an Speech Language Pathologist looking for a new job (anonymous for that reason). I am looking for advice on crafting a resume/cover letter specifically for a clinical field.

Pretty much all the advice I can find on this resumes/cover letters (ask a manager, etc) really seems to be directed toward more office-y, project-oriented jobs, and that's really not what I do. I also asked this question on an SLP board, and got the same kind of boiler plate advice and "here I found this on google" responses that just didn't feel appropriate to my field. Are there just really low expectations for SLPs and other type employees, resume-wise? If that's the answer, I'm okay with it.

What my biggest challenge is, is that I feel like the successes I am really proud of are not part of a big, quantifiable project; they're more single achievements (like, Sally is now getting all her calories from food and not a feeding tube; I found a communication device that really worked for Billy and his family and he's able to communicate the following ideas). Some are not even that specific (like, Sammy's family went into the school feeling educated about his condition and empowered about their rights and got the best possible services for him). And I have a ton of these; I'm not sure the best way to capture them. And without this information, I feel like my resume is just this boring "administered speech evaluations" and "managed a caseload of 35" and "had clients with these diagnosis." And I know I can say stuff like, "Educating families and involving them in the therapy process is a skill of mine" but honestly, I think anyone could write that. I want to show how good I am at it by backing it with something, but I don't know what. The examples for SLPs I've found on google all feel so interchangeable, and I know clinicians are not interchangeable.

Thanks in advance for any resources and advice.

(Let me just add that my current job is the first one I've had since grad school and I got it through a placement I did here while in school. My resume was pretty perfunctory at the time, and I don't think anyone actually looked it, so I'm looking to start over completely).

(If it matters, I work for a large hospital doing inpatient and outpatient services)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am not an SLP, but do work in a clinical setting (nursing).

In my cover letters, I definitely rocked out with the "soft" skills kind of stuff - such as your "Educating families..." line - to highlight what I think makes me good at my job and a desirable hire. It might feel trite and obvious, but it shows that these are the clinical skills that you value, excel at, and will emphasize in your practice. Sure, the more technical stuff, like "I have performed over 380 swallow studies" or whatever should be captured in the resume itself. But the cover letter is the chance to show who you are as a clinician. Think about what parts of yourself you have drawn from to have those successes that you described. You don't necessarily need to tell the clinical story - which would get lengthy - but you can definitely find a few generalities in the challenges one faces as an SLP and then describe the attributes about yourself that will show how you approach them. From your examples, it sounds like you value perseverence, patience, creative thinking, and advocacy for your patients. You could say something about HOW you go about doing what you do, eg, how you engage the patient/family in the therapy process, how you determine their educational needs and what style of communication will fit with those needs.

Also, while I typically used the same resume for every job, I definitely tailored the cover letter to the specific job I was applying for, so that I could highlight my skills and achievements in the most relevant way. This was a drag but defintely helps avoid the boilerplate feel.

Good luck!
posted by tentacle at 12:43 PM on April 23, 2015

A friend is an SLP:
I would say to generalize those "single achievements". For example, instead of Sammy's family felt empowered (which is SSOOOOO subjective how can this person POSSIBLY comment on how they felt) write "As a result-oriented, motivated clinician, I strive to empower patients and their families in order to improve communication and, consequently, quality of life"
This person could basically do this kind of thing for every little "proud moment" and have half the cover letter written.
I would stress though that although these tid-bits are important and will help make the applicant stand out, the "generic" skills, especially being able to work well in teams, able to work in fast-paced environments and able to build a rapport with families/communicate ideas effectively, are ESSENTIAL.
That's just my experience anyway. From what the person wrote it sounds like they have the right ideas but they don't know how to word it properly.

Also, you should direct your cover letter directly to the agency you're applying for - that might change the content a bit.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:41 PM on April 23, 2015

I'm a school-based SLP, and I know that in the jobs I've applied for, my resume and cover letter weren't big factors. The demand for SLPs is so high in my area that places will interview you as long as your resume is halfway decent. I think that's true in a lot of parts of the U.S., which is why the stuff you found online seems so generic. Our field is simply not as competitive as other fields, where a well-crafted letter means the difference between getting an interview or not.

If I were you I would follow Lemurrhea's suggestions and, unless you're gunning for a truly coveted position, put most of your energy into prepping for the interview.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:04 PM on April 23, 2015

I'm in a position to hire school-based SLPs and I second christinetheslp. They are in very high demand. (Want to move to Texas?)
posted by tamitang at 8:27 PM on April 24, 2015

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