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Cover Letters for Medical Residency & Fellowship Applications

A cover letter can be 1-4 paragraphs. Briefer letters are better.

A CV or resume only explains all of your previous academic training and professional skills. A Cover Letter, however, summarizes how that academic training and professional skills will directly benefit the prospective employer. It explains desire – why you want the job.

Often employers only skim the first paragraph of your cover letter; so, you need to bring to the table what you have to offer and why, backed up by the most salient details of your professional  achievements. The focus should be on what you are able to do for the employer. For example: “My training enables me…”.

Think about how you sort through a stack of information. First, you’d probably skim the CV/resume and first paragraph of the cover letter, to sort candidates into ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ piles. The second time through, you’d read everything closely to whittle down your ‘yes’ pile to 3-5 strong candidates to invite to interview. But what if there were 6? Here’s when a cover letter is most valuable: it makes your argument about how you can contribute to their organization, and why you want the position. Those without cover letters have to hope that the employer can figure that out. It might be the edge you need!

What to expect when in when it comes time to receive invitation and rejection letters for residency program interviews.