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Career Advice

The importance of a perfect covering letter for NHS job applications (Non-Medical/ Non-Clinical roles)

The NHS is an organisation that includes an incredibly diverse range of different departments - this means that there are also a number of different recruitment processes in operation at any one time. If a job specification requests that a covering letter is required for every CV, it is essential to include one that has all of the relevant information, and at the very least it will ensure that your application reaches the correct department after including a job reference number or similar details. In many ways, it can also act as your ‘CV’ before the recruiting manager even gets to your main document.

Your motivation.

If the receiving manager feels like you have just forwarded a generic CV to as many different departments as possible, they may feel like you haven’t taken the time to look at their specific role - this is why we put as much detail as possible for every job vacancy that is advertised on Some brief details about why you want to work for the NHS in that particular department will put their mind at ease, and it will also encourage them to look at your actual CV as well. Don’t be afraid to refer to the main document with phrases like “as you can see from my CV,” and you can leave the finer details out of the covering letter. Think of this as a ‘complementary letter’ for your Curriculum Vitae.

Forget about technical phrases and jargon.

If possible, you should try and avoid using abbreviations and other technical jargon when building your covering letter. While the recruitment manager who sees your CV will be familiar with these elements, all applications may be filtered by a more general NHS recruitment specialist in the first instance - it is simply not worth taking a risk and baffling another member of staff before your CV has even been read. By keeping your covering letter more general and concentrating on your own personal qualities, there is a good chance that it will then be forwarded on to the next stage in the recruitment process where a decision will be made about arranging an interview.

Don’t overlook small details.

When a number of CVs and covering letters arrive, it is highly likely that the first point of contact will be someone who is looking to filter out unsuitable applications with minor errors. As an example, there is a world of difference between the usage of ‘yours sincerely’ (when you DO KNOW the recipient’s name) and ‘yours faithfully’ (when you DO NOT KNOW the recipient’s name). This is the sort of minor mistake that could set alarm bells ringing at an early stage and once again it is simply a risk that is not worth taking. Many people also make the mistake of posting both documents in a narrow envelope that creates an unattractive number of folds when it is opened; an A5 envelope for A4 printing is ideal - a CV that resembles a piece of origami is never going to get very far in the process!

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