When You Need to Send a Cover Letter With Your CV

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If you are a physician, a nurse, a medical technologist, or any healthcare professional, do you always need to send a cover letter when applying for medical jobs?​

In a word, no. Especially if you have a solid resume in a role that is in high-demand, as many clinical healthcare professions are currently.

However, there are certain situations where a cover letter is absolutely needed. Cover letters are a very important component of the job search process, and for many industries, they are almost always necessary. However, in healthcare, your medical and technical background, including degrees, certifications, and experience, are key. The volume of qualified clinicians for many roles is not as high as the volume of applicants seen in non-clinical jobs. Therefore, it is a bit easier for healthcare recruiters to fairly quickly narrow down the field of applicants based on clinical qualifications alone. Then, often the hiring manager or recruiter will learn more about the few select qualified candidates via a brief initial phone call or email exchange.

A well-written cover letter can never hurt your job search efforts, but the operative word is "well-written." If you forward your CV with a cover letter that is full of errors or irrelevant information, such a cover letter could actually hurt your job search efforts. Again, that being said, below are a few situations when a cover letter is needed, even for healthcare.

Applying to an Employer Without a Specific Job Opening

If you are searching for jobs in a certain area, you may be submitting your CV to all the hospitals and medical facilities in that area, regardless of a possible lack of any current openings that are a match for your qualifications. When applying "cold" to a healthcare facility, you definitely need a cover letter to explain why you are sending your resume' and what type of role you are seeking.​

Applying to a Job via a Personal or Professional Connection

A cover letter would help you identify your mutual contact and explain why the connection put you in touch with the hiring manager at this employer.

When Something on Your Resume Needs Further Explanation

If there is something on your CV that may cause an employer to overlook you, a cover letter may be able to help you overcome this issue. Preferably, you should try to find a way to minimize the issue on your CV itself, if that's possible to do without misrepresenting yourself. However, if you have a large employment gap, or frequent job changes, etc., but you have a reasonable explanation, a cover letter may help.

Furthermore, any personal issues like a criminal background or substance abuse (if it's resulted in a licensing issue) may also be explained in a cover letter, to some extent.

If You Are Attempting a Career Change or Industry Change

If you are making a significant transition from one industry to another, or into a new profession, a cover letter is needed. If you do not have any prior healthcare experience, you will need to explain your transferable skills and the motivation for your transition, for example. Your cover letter should help the hiring manager envision you in your desired role despite your lack of healthcare experience.

When You Do Not Need a Cover Letter

When the job posting to which you are replying instructs you not to include a cover letter, by all means, don't include one! Also, if you are applying to a healthcare position via a search firm or online, for a clinical healthcare position, often a cover letter is unnecessary. Keep in mind, this if for straightforward clinical roles only.

When You Do Send a Cover Letter

When you are in one of the above situations and you need to send a cover letter, be sure it is succinct, adequately proofread, and well-written in general. Be sure to address it to the hiring manager.

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