Allied Health Podcast Series 1 Episode 6

Cover Letter, CV and Referees in a nutshell

Episode 6 talking all things CV, Cover Letter and Referees with Clare and Danielle.

Speaker You’re listening to Allied Health Podcast, talking all things Allied Health with your hosts, Danielle Weedon, physiotherapist, and Clare Jones, occupational therapist.

Danielle Weedon Hello, and welcome back to Allied Health Podcast. Dan and Clare here today to cover off advice on writing a cover letter and CV, as well as nominating referees. Sometimes considered simple, these are the gateway for you to be offered an interview and for you to secure your first role as a therapy grad. OK, Clare. Quick fire cover letter questions. Cover letter vs. CV – what’s more important?

Clare Jones In my opinion, a cover letter and CV are of equal importance.

Danielle Weedon OK, cover letter. Create one every job application, yes or no?

Clare Jones Going to the effort to write a cover letter demonstrates to an employer that you’re genuinely interested in an opportunity, so absolutely write a cover letter for every job you apply for. So take the time to address your cover letter to the appropriate person, for example, the employer or the HR contact. And if you don’t know who to address the cover letter to, find out. And reference the specific role you’re applying for. So for each job you apply for, you’re submitting a tailored cover letter.

Danielle Weedon OK, and how long should a cover letter be?

Clare Jones For grads, a cover letter should be no more than one page long. Keep in mind that the employer is potentially reviewing multiple applications, so short and sharp is best.

Danielle Weedon Yep. And previous experience? Should it be mentioned in cover letter or CV?

Clare Jones It should be mentioned in both. Previous employment experience is a great addition to any cover letter, especially if it’s health related.

Danielle Weedon And my personal information. What do I mention in a cover letter?

Clare Jones Look, I like a cover letter that’s unique in as much that it gives me something to remember about the applicant. So it might mention an interesting achievement, or something personal, like growing up in a rural town or what attracted you to study your chosen profession. It’s important to keep in mind that your cover letter is your first opportunity to stand out amongst a crowd, so it’s good to include something that makes it memorable.

Danielle Weedon Great. And CV. Three tips for a CV?

Clare Jones Top three tips: short, sharp and simple. Keep it short. No more than two to three pages. Keep it sharp – only include relevant information that’s succinct. Employers often review many CVs, so there’s no need to pad your CV out for the sake of making it longer. Employers know you don’t have a lot of clinical therapy experience, so there’s no need to compensate for this. And finally, keep it simple. No fancy formatting. The key here is that your CV is easy to read.

Danielle Weedon And what do I list first on my CV?

Clare Jones Start your CV with your personal details, followed by your qualification, or qualifications if you have multiple. List the year you graduated and the institution you’ve studied at.

Danielle Weedon And regarding employment, what order should it be listed in?

Clare Jones So CVs should read in reverse chronological order listing your qualifications and employment history, both health and non-health related. Starting with your most recent experience.

Danielle Weedon And do I list my placements or not?

Clare Jones It’s really important to list your undergrad placements, but these can be kept brief. However, if you’re applying for a job and you’ve done a clinical placement in that area, it’s a value to pad out the information that you provide about that clinical placement.

Danielle Weedon Great. And employment history, what do I put on my CV?

Clare Jones It’s important that you outline your health and your non-health related employment history as a graduate and early career therapist. Health related employment experience such as working in disability support or as an allied health assistant is extremely attractive to future employers. Other employment experience, such as working in, say, retail or hospitality, is also really valuable to include. There are many transferable skills that come from any employment, such as working within a team, working within systems, customer service, time management and so many more.

Danielle Weedon OK, great. And any other tips on cover letter and CV?

Clare Jones Yeah, I’ve got, I’ve got two final pieces of advice. Get someone else to read your cover letter and your CV and get their feedback on things such as how easy it is to read, and how much does the really important information stand out. And it goes without saying that a great cover letter and a CV has no mistakes. So please use spell check. There are no excuses for spelling mistakes and typos.

Danielle Weedon That’s right. And also at MediRecruit, we’ve got some great CV and cover letter resources that are free for you as grads. So get in touch and we can send them over to you if you want some advice on those. And what about referees, Clare? Do I list my referees on my CV?

Clare Jones This is a really good question and one we often get asked. The short answer is no. Don’t list referees on your CV. As a grad, it’s likely you’ll be applying for several jobs and your referees don’t need to be contacted multiple times unnecessarily. So if you progress down the recruitment process and you’re asked for references, you can provide your referee contact details at that point in time.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, that’s right, and how many referees do I need to have?

Clare Jones Ideally, you’ll have two to three referees who you can call on to provide a reference for you when required. So two pieces of advice here. Make sure you’ve sought someone’s permission to nominate them as a referee and make sure they’re aware of the role or roles you’ve applied for. There is nothing worse than getting in touch with the referee, who has no idea they’ve been nominated and no clue about the job you’ve applied for. It’s really unprofessional. And secondly, your referees need to be people who you’ve reported to directly. For grads, your student placement supervisors are an obvious choice, in combination with the student placement supervisor. You can also nominate a referee you’ve reported to in other employment. A referee from other employment you’ve held will be able to comment on the transferable skills you’ll bring to a professional role such as punctuality, reliability, communication skills, working as part of a team time management and say, working under pressure.

Danielle Weedon Awesome. Thanks, Clare. So in summary, it’s important to keep CV and cover letter short and sharp, highlighting clinical placements and employment experience relevant to the role you’re applying for, and your referees up to date and informed. If you’re interested to receive a free copy of our cover letter and CV tips, please email us at And as usual, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to Allied Health Podcast. We hope you join us for our next episode also, where we interview Mia Pearn, a 2020 graduate occupational therapist working in paediatric practice.

Speaker We hope you enjoyed listening to the Allied Health Podcast. In the show’s notes, you’ll find links to our free recruitment resources, job opportunities and health care marketplace insights. To listen to new episodes, please subscribe via Apple, Google, or wherever you find your favourite podcasts and if you’ve enjoyed the show, please give it a five star rating and review. And be sure to tell your therapy colleagues and friends to tune in.