Powerful CVs and Cover Letters: How to Stand Out

Koushik Shaw, MD


May 31, 2019

In This Article

Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter and the first paragraph of your CV are good places to differentiate yourself from other candidates. Here, you can highlight skills that employers look for—such as teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and technological skills—that don't fit into the standard structure of a CV.

This is also a good way to note your interest in the location. Perhaps you grew up or went to school there. Such ties are highly prized by employers, and need to be prominently presented when you apply for a job.

The cover letter or opening CV paragraph also gives you an opportunity to humanize yourself. You can mention a few—but only a few—hobbies and special interests. Bringing up too many personal interests gives the impression that you're more concerned with your lifestyle than with practicing medicine.

Tips for Writing Your Cover Letter

Create a template. Then you can add material for a specific recruiter or position. Thoroughly proofread each cover letter before sending it off.

Start your letter with a name. The generic salutation "To whom it may concern" will elicit a generic response. Take the time to determine the name of the person the letter should go to.

Be enthusiastic. Try to convey your passion for medicine, helping patients, and working for this employer. But don't sound desperate, even if the job sounds like a once-in-a-million opportunity. Employers want to choose you on your merits.

Keep it short. Limit the opening paragraph to three or four sentences, and the cover letter to three or four paragraphs. Like the CV, it should be free of spelling errors and typos.

Sign off your cover letter. You might say something like, "Looking forward to hearing from you," and supply the best way to contact you, such as an email address or cell phone number.

Put a personal touch at the end. Include a warm and friendly "PS" that might highlight an unusual skill. For example, "PS: I am also an amateur magician and will share how I can be a magical addition to your practice." Marketing research shows that many people read a "PS" before the body of the letter.

Sending Off Your CV and Cover

In most cases, you can email or upload your CV onto a job website or an employer's site. Convert the document into a PDF file, so that it can't be changed accidentally when people open the file.

Don't post your CV everywhere. If your CV comes up all over the place, it doesn't look like you're much interested in any particular offering. Latham recommends monitoring Internet job sites and applying for specific jobs.

Although email is the standard mode of communication, you might also make a positive impression on employers by sending your CV via regular mail. "If the recruiter states a preference, then go with that preference," Latham notes.

Zweig agrees. "Be sure to take one CV—flat and in a folder or large envelope—to your job interview."

Editor's Note: This article was adapted and updated from the Physician Business Academy course "Finding the Right Physician Job," by Koushik Shaw, MD. Additional reporting by Gail G. Weiss.


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