Using a Cover Letter to Get a Job in Australia as a Junior Doctor
When applying for jobs in Australia as a junior doctor from the UK, you will usually have an opportunity to share a cover letter alongside your CV. This is a great way to give a personal flavour to your application and another opportunity to stand out against other candidates.
But, many doctors don't bother! And those that do often don't make their cover letter as impactful as it could be. To help you craft the perfect cover letter, in this article, we will explain:
👉 When you can submit a cover letter
👉 What it should typically include, and why
👉 A full example to give you inspiration for your own cover letter
Make sure also to check out our article on how to write the CV that will secure your job in Australia.
📜 What is the purpose of a cover letter?
A CV focuses on the “facts” about your education, experience, skills and other achievements. So, it tends to be very dense and quite impersonal document. Therefore, it leaves little space to explain the more personal side of your situation.
A cover letter allows you to write in a longer-form and more personal way about your background, your career so far, your motivations for applying to that particular job, and your longer-term career aspirations.
Paired with your CV, the reader should be able to understand these areas and feel very excited about interviewing you!
🤔 When will I need a cover letter?
If you are not familiar with the paths to applying for jobs in Australia, check out this article which breaks down the four routes to finding a job in Australia and explains how each works.
Direct applications and job boards
You will definitely need a CV in this situation. Since you are introducing yourself to the department, there are no ‘rules’ around what is and isn’t allowed and so you can take the opportunity to include a cover letter.
Each state's recruitment process is different, but in most cases you will be given an opportunity to write a cover letter or personal statement of some kind.
A cover letter is not always needed but, ultimately, it can’t harm your chances of receiving an interview. Your agency will appreciate the effort you've taken to trying to help them secure you interviews, and can help to tailor the letter to each hospital they are introducing you to.
📃 Can I use the same letter for all jobs?
In our article, How to Write a Great CV for Moving to Australia, we explain that adapting your CV to a specific specialty and/or job is much better than sending a generic document.
The same applies to cover letters. Take the time to adapt this to each job you are applying for. At a minimum, you should change the names it’s addressed to, and ideally, write something personalised in the “why I chose to apply to this hospital” section. See more on that below.
So expect to be writing a lot of cover letters! It is useful to create a generic template which you can then adapt to the particular hospital you are applying to.
✍️ What should my cover letter include?
✅ An Introduction
Your letter should be addressed personally to the recruitment contact at the hospital and/or the lead Consultant of the department. Do some research to get their names, and avoid writing “To Whom It May Concern”.
Summarise your career so far and why you are writing to them. This can be similar to the Summary Statement of your CV.
Due to differences in the nomenclature of different grades between the UK and Australia, be sure to include your grade as a postgraduate level at the time you will be commencing work there. For example, "as of August, I will be PGY3". If you are unsure about how grades in Australia work, you can read out guide to grades here.
✅ Short summary of your experience
This is covered in detail in your CV, but it is useful to summarise it here. Elaborate on how much experience you have overall and in the relevant specialty.
It helps to know what Australian hospitals are looking for - extra-curriculars, audits and publications are great but they tend to carry less weight in Australia. Instead focus on your clinical practice.
If you’ve been asked to come back to a particular department to locum, include this as it is a great way to demonstrate you were liked and deemed competent. All most departments want a safe pair of hands who will gel well with the clinical team.
Another great way to apply this in practice is the phrase: ‘In feedback, I have been deemed…’ or similar.
✅ Why you chose to apply to this hospital
Explain why you want to work at the specific hospital you are applying to. Make them feel special and see that you’ve taken the time to research the institution. Most doctors can’t be bothered to do this, so you will really stand out.
It is a good idea to look up what the hospital is known for and reference this when tailoring the letter - for example, if you are applying to a transplant centre and you find this interesting, be sure to mention this!
Specific reasons to work at a certain hospital could include:
🙌 You’re interested in working in a specific specialisation or clinical focus that the hospital offers
🙌 The size of the hospital whether it is large or small
🙌 The location of the hospital, especially if it is for personal reasons (e.g. you have family that lives locally)
✅ Why you want to move to Australia
As we explain in the CV article, it is essential that they understand that you are committed to moving to Australia and have carefully considered the move. Many doctors make speculative applications and then drop out, wasting time for the hospital and creating a gap at short notice. You want to make it clear that this isn’t you!
So, be sure to explain your motivations for moving to Australia, both professional and personal.
✅ What you are looking for and why
Explain your timeline for moving and how flexible or fixed this is. This is useful in helping them evaluate your application.
Also, explain what kinds of roles you are applying for, and if you are open to multiple specialties, you can elaborate on this here. If you have particular preferences around the grade that you want to work in, you can also explain this here.
Finally, if you are applying alongside a partner, mention this! It is usually seen as an attractive quality: the hospital gets ‘two for the price of one’, and couples are more likely to stay in one place rather than leave to be with friends if they get homesick. As an added bonus, if you are upfront about this from the offset you are more likely to be placed on a paired roster, where you will work the same shift patterns as your partner.
🤓 Here is an example of a CV that covers everything we mentioned:
1 January 2022
Dear Ms Smith and Dr Jones,
By way of introduction, my name is Dr John Doe and I would like to express my interest in working in the Emergency Department at the Royal North Shore Hospital.
I am a British Emergency Medicine doctor, currently working at a PGY4 level in the NHS in the UK. I have a passion for Emergency Medicine with a particular interest in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, and I am seeking an ED role in Australia starting from February 2023.
I have a total of 16 months of experience in Emergency Medicine. This comprises a four-month rotation in a busy trauma centre during my PGY2 year, followed by 12 months of work as a locum Emergency Medicine SHO in several centres across the NHS. I have extensive experience in majors in particular, but also with minors, paediatric A&E and urgent care. Through my locum work, I am comfortable adapting to new environments and teams quickly.
I have also attached my CV for your consideration, including more information on my professional experience and specific competencies.
My desire to move to Australia stems from a desire to challenge myself working in a country with different disease burdens, epidemiology and demographics. I undertook my medical student elective in Darwin, NT, so I have some experience with the Australian healthcare system.
I have chosen to apply to the Royal North Shore Hospital specifically because I believe that I would be well suited to working in a large and busy Emergency Department with a significant major component. I am also interested in Paediatric Emergency Medicine and understand that you are the local centre for this. Finally, I have family who live in North Sydney nearby, making this a natural choice for me too.
I am available from February 2023, but I am open to roles starting between then and May 2023. Due to my previous experience, I am seeking roles at either a PHO or Junior Registrar grade, but I would be open to accepting an RMO-level job initially, too.
Many thanks for taking the time to consider my application. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Dr John Doe
📚 Continue Reading
🚀 This article is part of Messly's Ultimate Guide to Working in Australia. The guide covers all you need to know as a UK doctor to understand your options, research your move, find work, get registered and move out to Australia.
❓ If you are still weighing up whether a move to Australia is right for you, our article To Aus or not to Aus breaks down the pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision. Read this with Common Questions on Moving to Australia as a UK Junior Doctor.
🤔 Confused about how the grades work in Australia, and which roles you should be applying for? This article breaks down the grade system and explains which roles might be suitable for you.
✈️ There are four routes to finding a job in Australia. In this detailed guide, we explain how each works and the pros and cons of each, so you can kick-start your search for your dream job Down Under
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