When applying for jobs outside medicine, a CV will often be requested. Unless specifically told not to, you should always accompany your CV with a covering letter. If nothing else it ensures your CV goes to the right department.

The Basic Principles

  • Keep it short, simple and to the point.
  • Your covering letter should encourage the reader to look at your CV. Therefore you can use it to demonstrate your interest, motivation, suitability for the job and direct the reader to sections of your CV which you feel are particularly relevant.

Structure and Content

  • State what the job or position is that you are applying for and remember to quote a reference or vacancy number if supplied.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to direct the reader. Phrases such as “As can be seen from my CV, I have experience in….” or “From my experience gained at/in…”.
  • Interest and motivation. Many people can do many jobs, but someone with interest and high motivation will not only do the job to a far higher standard, but will also be reliable and committed.
    For example, if you enjoyed your time in public health because you enjoyed meeting a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds, tell them.
  • Conclude your letter on a positive note. For example tell the reader you look forward to hearing from them.
  • Ensure you sign off with the correct form of address.
    If you know the name of the person you are writing to, conclude with ‘Yours sincerely’ and if you don’t know their name, finish with ‘Yours faithfully’.
  • If you have the U.S. spell and grammar check on your computer it will try to direct you to conclude with ‘Yours truly’. Avoid using this.


  • Unless specifically stated, do not handwrite your covering letter.
  • Use the same paper as you are using for your CV
  • Keep to one side of A4.
  • If sending via the post, ensure you can fit your CV and covering letter into the envelope without folding them more than once. An A5 envelope is ideal.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Do change your covering letter for every application and ensure you enclose the right CV with the covering letter.
  • Do ask someone else to read your covering letter before you submit it. What you may think is obvious, but others may not understand, particularly when are applying for non-medical posts.
  • Do try and find out the name of the person who is dealing with the recruitment for that position. It is perfectly acceptable to ring the organisation to ask who you should send your application to.
  • Don’t use jargon, abbreviations or text messaging.
  • Don’t ‘pad it out’. If you have nothing more to say, don’t say it.

Further Resources