How to Write a Cover Letter for a Dietitian

Some dietitians work in medical settings, while others choose less traditional workplaces.
Some dietitians work in medical settings, while others choose less traditional workplaces. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Dietitians use their knowledge of food, nutrition and health to put together meal plans for patients in medical settings, to prevent sickness and as a part of an overall treatment strategy. While many dietitians work for health maintenance organizations (HMOs), hospitals and other healthcare facilities, the American Dietetic Association says that more professionals are choosing work in less traditional settings, taking on roles as journalists, sports nutritionists or administrators of corporate wellness programs. Writing a memorable dietitian's cover letter requires an understanding of the job requirements and presenting your experiences in a way that positions you as the best candidate.

Carefully read the job description and decide what makes the position unique. Take some notes on the work setting and primary demographic it serves. Keep your eyes open for qualifications that are unique to the job. For example, if you're applying for work as a nutrition columnist for a daily newspaper, you'll want to emphasize a different set of skills than you would if applying for a clinical position at a local nursing home.

Log on to the hiring employer's website and do some research about the organization. While job descriptions usually provide some insight into an organization's culture, delving deeper can help you get a better understanding of its values and priorities. Ask yourself what appeals to you about the employer. Perhaps it emphasizes continuing education and mentorship, which might really appeal to you as a young dietitian interested in career development. Maybe it emphasizes teamwork in patient care, which might coincide with your belief that people benefit from holistic care delivered by a unified group of professionals.

Include your name, address, email and phone number on the left-hand side at the top of your cover letter. On a separate line below, type the date. In a third, distinct block of text, write the employer's name and contact information.

Address your cover letter to a person, if possible. "Dear Mrs. Smithson" is far more personal than "Dear sir/madam." If you're not sure who the hiring manager is, it's worth calling the organization to see if you can find out. If you absolutely must go with a generic greeting, "Dear Recruiter" is a safe bet.

Start your first paragraph by explaining how you heard about the position. Next, briefly explain why you're interested in the job, using what you learned about the organization as part of your rationale. You might write something like the following, for example: "While reading St. Georges website, I was excited to learn that the hospital is committed to team-based patient care. I strive to work well with other healthcare professionals, and I'm looking forward to working for an organization committed to the same values."

Link your second paragraph with your first by elaborating on your final statement with concrete examples. For example, if you wrote that you're committed to team-based care, you could mention your experience as an active member on the patient care board in your last job. Build on the paragraph by mentioning two other qualifications that the employer listed in the job description and give examples of how you demonstrated those skills or traits. For example, you might write something like: "I realize that the position requires experience with the geriatric population. Although my previous dietitian work involved children, I've also volunteered at a nursing home within my community during the past two years."

End your cover letter with a final paragraph that emphasizes your excitement about the position and state that you look forward to meeting the recruiter in person. Follow the paragraph with "Sincerely" and your full name on a separate line.

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