Writing an Effective Cover Letter:


Address the correct person.

Most of the time you will want to address the chairman and/or head of the search committee. Use appropriate titles such as President Jones, Dean Johnson, etc when applicable. Spend a moment to look up the group or department online if you don’t already know the names.

Make a first impression.

Highlight one, two, or maybe three of the most important and significant professional achievements listed on your CV. The goal is to entice the reader to want to learn more-by reading your CV and/or inviting you for an interview. Don’t be humble. A recent JBJS publication, being awarded an NIH grant, being a managing partner who helped grow your group from 2 to 12 with multiple locations are all substantial accomplishments that make you stand out in a good way.

What is unique and special about you?

In general, all of their applicants will have high test scores, have been in honor societies, and have gone to good schools and training programs. If you are the only member of ASES in the whole state, say so. If you were an Olympic softball player, say so. Maybe you also have an MBA and could potentially contribute business skills above and beyond your clinical skills. Don’t hesitate to highlight some of your strengths and what you think you could add to the group.

Make a connection.

If you already know someone in the group or department, include that in your cover letter. Similarly, let the group know if you grew up there and have a significant tie to the community. Does your research interest align with other work being done at the institution? Do your clinical skills fill a need for patients who might currently have to go outside of the facility or even outside the area to get care?

Everyone likes compliments.

If this opportunity caught your eye because of the group and its outstanding reputation as the premier orthopaedic group in town, go ahead and say that. Likewise, if you are excited about the opportunity to further your research by working in their award winning gait lab, indicate that in your letter. Just keep it brief, specific, and sincere.

Keep the tone formal.

Being too casual looks unprofessional. Even if you know the head of the search committee personally, the cover letter and CV will likely be circulated among other members of the group and its administrators, many of whom you may not know.

Keep it brief.

One page max, including space and signature at the bottom. Often 2 or 3 paragraphs is sufficient. Don’t try to summarize your whole CV. Leave the reader wanting to know more.


Click here to view a Cover Letter Template