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Tips on writing your cover letter to the RA graduate program

Category: R&D Regulatory Affairs | 48 comments

Many of you asked me the question – ’How to stand out from the candidate pool in the initial screening process for an Regulatory Affairs (RA) graduate position?’

My suggestion would be write a good cover letter.

Every year Novo Nordisk receives a large number of applications from all over the world. There are many candidates with qualifications that fulfill our basic requirements for the program, namely, an advanced science degree, good grades from school, no more than 2 years of work experience, and international experience living or studying abroad. In this case an excellent cover letter – or let’s call it more appropriately a motivation letter, allows you a great opportunity to distinguish yourself from the crowd. And it’s no secret that the recruiting manager cares A LOT about the motivation letter.

In order to write a good motivation letter, it is always a good idea to do your homework beforehand. For instance, read about the graduate program, research a bit on what RA is all about and what an RA professional does (if you don’t know it already). Have a thorough self-reflection afterwards by asking yourself: Why am I passionate about RA? Ralph Emerson says ‘Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success.’ You want to demonstrate your interest in Novo Nordisk, and convince us that you are a motivated individual who holds genuine interest in forging a career in RA. Think through your personal, academic, and work experience, highlight a few things that make you particularly interesting and valuable for us so we need to choose you over the other great applicants.

As for the don’ts – avoid details of your dissertation or laboratory research in the motivation letter, leaving them to your CV. Don’t repeat what’s already stated in your CV. Of course you can highlight facts relevant to the position, but the motivation letter is really the place where you want to provide us with something that is NOT substantiated in the CV and something that adds a personal touch to your CV.

Limit your motivation letter to max 1.5 pages. We want it to be focused and succinct so we don’t spend time hunting your main points.

I hope this entry could help you out there when you write your application. I wish you the very best of luck and we look forward to getting to know you via your application!

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48 Comments to Tips on writing your cover letter to the RA graduate program

  1. Posted January 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink
    Ana Coelho says:

    Dear Mian,

    I am working on my application, and I hope you can help me with some doubts.
    Although it is mentioned in the application process, is it mandatory (or recommended) to submit a recommendation letter? If yes, how many?

    I graduated in March 2012. However, I started working before that date. Will it be an exclusion factor?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    Ana Coelho

  2. Posted January 6, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Ana,

    Thank you for your inquiry. In response to your first question, it is recommended to submit a recommendation letter as part of your application. Although there isn’t a fixed number of recommendation letters demanded from our end, please make sure you attach a real strong letter instead of something generic or merely a confirmation letter from your previous employer. You can also just include the name(s) and contact info(s) of your referee(s) in your CV (if you haven’t got a letter) in case we want to contact them at a later stage. Please be kindly advised that during the initial screening, we only allocate limited time to read each application so we want the applications to be informative yet concise, and applicants’ motivation and value for us are clearly conveyed.

    As for your second question, we expect applicants to have no more than 2 years of full-time work experience upon graduation. So you are still eligible in that case. If you worked during your study (i.e. as a student helper), that’s actually preferrable.

    Hope it helps. Feel free to ask if you have more questions. Good luck with the application, and we look forward to hearing from you!

    Best,
    Mian

  3. Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:10 am | Permalink
    Jinling Liu says:

    Dear Mian,

    Thank you very much for the sharing. I am brand new graduate from Copenhagen Business School. I have a great interest in applying for joining the graduate program at Novo Nordisk. Thus, your valuable tips help me a lot at improving my motivation letter.

    Regarding the application, I have a question to consult you: Is it possible to apply for more than one program, since there are 11 different programs to choose? Thank you for your help in advance.

    Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    All the best!
    Ling

  4. Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Ling,

    Thanks for your inquiry, and I’m glad to learn that you find the entry helpful.

    Although there is not a limit to the number of programs you can apply, it’s generally advisable that you apply to max. two. The reason for it is that managers of different programs communicate with each other during the screening process so they’ll find out to which programs you’ve applied. It’s probably a good idea to show that you are focused and know what you really want. If you intend to apply to more than one program, make sure you see connections between the two and can justify your motives.

    Hope it clarifies.

    Good luck with your application!

    Best,
    Mian

  5. Posted January 16, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
    Nikolas says:

    Dear Mian,

    I am currently enrolled in a masters programme(UK based) with expected completion time in Aug 2013. Should I infer that the latest transcript which is required for the application corresponds to my MSc degree, even if that is halfway through? In addition, can I upload my first degree’s transcript too? Lastly, graduation and congregation ceremonies are held during Dec in the UK so will a certificate, indicating completion of studies & provided in Sep, suffice?

    I apologise for concentrating too many questions in one message!

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

    Kind Regards,
    Nikolas

  6. Posted January 16, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Nikolas,

    Thanks for your inquiries. The latest transcript refers to the one from your Master’s, which contains all the courses you’ve taken so far. As for your Bachelor’s degree, you can just note the accumulative GPA/honor(s) on your CV. However, a detailed list of courses for your Bachelor’s is not necessary. A science degree should suffice at this point, and the answer to your last question is yes :)

    Good luck with your application, and we look forward to reading it!

    Best,
    Mian

  7. Posted January 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink
    Gurram Sudarshan guptha says:

    Dear Mian,

    Initially I thank you for your valuable guidance which helped me a lot in working with my application for graduate programme. I am a graduate in pharmacy from Birla institute of Technology, India. As u have discussed in your current blog about the basic requirements i.e., of candidates international experience. Please get me clear that is it mandatory to have international experience for applying, because i have done all of my education in various regions of India.

    I look forward to hearing from you

    Sincerely
    G.Sudarshan

  8. Posted January 20, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
    Kristina Petrovic says:

    Dear Mian,

    I tried asking this question from the graduate programme page, and typed it in the box where it says we can contact the Programme Manager directly – however, I am not sure it got through so I wanted to post it here again and hope that you can help me.

    I have just submitted my application for the Regulatory Affairs graduate programme. I mentioned in it that I would be submitting my academic transcript as a separate document, however I was not able to do so due to an apparent technical fault with the file. I have supplied a web link to my academic transcript in my cover letter which is easily accessible and is exactly the same as the one I was going to attach anyway – however, would it be possible for me to try and re-submit the PDF version of the file, as I originally intended, perhaps via e-mail?

    Thank you in advance!

    Kind regards,

    Kristina Petrovic

  9. Posted January 21, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Kristina,

    Thank you for your inquiry. You can re-submit the file as attachment to miwx@novonordisk.com

    We are looking forward to reading your application!

    Kind Regards,
    Mian

  10. Posted January 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear G. Sudarshan,

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    During the screening process, we evaluate candidates on multiple parameters, with having international experience being one of them. The reason for it is that RA graduates will be working in a very interantional environment and collaborating with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds. Therefore candidates with previous experience living or studying abroad will be in a more advantageous position compared to those without the experience.

    However, it doesnt hurt to give it a shot if you do believe that there’s something unique about yourself as well as the values you can bring to the company.

    Hope it clarifies.

    Best,
    Mian

  11. Posted January 22, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
    Kristina Petrovic says:

    Dear Mian,

    Thank you very much for your reply! I have just sent my transcript to the e-mail address you provided.

    Thank you once again! I hope to hear from you soon.

    Best regards,

    Kristina

  12. Posted January 23, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Kristina,

    You are welcome. I hereby confirm that your transcript has been received and will be included into your application.

    Best,
    Mian

  13. Posted January 25, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink
    trinath says:

    Dear Mian,

    hi i am trinath and i am pursuing masters in pharmacy from “JNTU” its a university from India and completing by Sept of 2013. And previously do not have any international experience but having 6 months of experience in pharmaceutical industry in India, do i am eligible for regulatory affairs graduate program.
    please reply me…..

  14. Posted January 25, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink
    Njaw Njie says:

    Dear Mian,
    I had my master degree since 2008 and i will finish my PhD study in September 2013 from Middle East Technical University Ankara Turkey. with regards to the position of Novo Nordisk in the world stage of Diabeties combating, i would like to do another graduate programme; specifically, Graduate R&D Regulatory affairs. Therefore would like to ask you, is it okay to apply with my MSc diploma and recent PhD transcript.

    Best Reguards

    Njaw Njie

  15. Posted January 25, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Trinath,

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    Having international experience living or studying abroad is preferred during our screening process. Of course you are still encouraged to apply, as long as you do believe there’s something special about you as a candidate so we do have to hire you. Just be kindly aware that the RA program is very competitive. You will be competing with people with international experience.

    Hope it clarifies.

    Best,
    Mian

  16. Posted January 25, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Njaw Njie,

    Thank you for expressing your interest to the RA program. Please kindly note that the RA program is not ‘another graduate program’ as those in an academic setting. It is actually a full-time job with significant investment from Novo Nordisk in training you and helping you develop both personally and professionally.

    In response to your question, yes, please enclose your MSc.diploma and the latest PhD transcript when you apply.

    Best,
    Mian

  17. Posted January 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
    Emiliya Vatsko says:

    Dear Mian,
    First of all,let me thank you for your help to the new applicants of the RA graduate program!I was following your advice about a months from now and made my cover letter finally.I have a master degree in medicine,but worked 1,5years not in EU.
    Before appliying I`d like to ask you a questions.First of all,I was studying in Ukraine,so my diploma and othe documents are on Ukrainian.Can I attach these documents with the official English translation?
    I know that the program is very compatitive,but I believe that dreams can come true.
    Thanks for your time and help.Hope to hear from you soon.
    Best regards,
    Emiliya.

  18. Posted January 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
    trinath says:

    Dear Mian,

    i dont have any idea of appyling …….can u please help me out regarding motivation letter format, cv format..etc , do i need to pay anything.. regarding the program.

  19. Posted January 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Emiliya,

    I’m glad to know that you find my blog posts helpful.

    Based on the information given here, you should be eligible to apply for the RA program. In response to your question, yes, please attach the documents with official English translation.

    Good luck with your application!

    Best,
    Mian

  20. Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Trinath,

    You dont have to pay to apply for the program. As for tips concerning motivation letter and CV, please refer to the posts written by Tamara and me here on the blog. Format-wise, we do not have specific requirements, as long as you feel what you’ve delivered is exactly what you wanted us to know.

    Best,
    Mian

  21. Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
    Hannah Andersson says:

    Dear Mian
    My name is Hannah Andersson and I am graduating this spring from Lund University with a Master in Engineering in Biotechnology. I am currently doing my application for the RA Graduate program and I have a question regarding the recommendation letters. Mine are in Swedish, is it okay to attach a translation to English?
    Kind regards Hannah Andersson

  22. Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Hannah,

    Thank you for expressing your interest in the RA program. Yes, please attach a translated copy of your recommendation letter when submitting your application.

    Good luck with your application, and we are looking forward to receiving it.

    Best,
    Mian

  23. Posted January 29, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink
    HanYe says:

    Dear Mian,

    I have submitted my application to the Regulatory Affairs progamme. I wonder if you can help me have a check that I have sucessfully submitted my application.

    Best regards,

    YeHan

  24. Posted January 29, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink
    HanYe says:

    Dear Mian,

    If I want to submit a recommendation letter to support my application which address I should send to. As my supervisor want to submit the recommendation by himself, I am waiting for your response.

    Best regards,

    YeHan

  25. Posted January 29, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear YeHan,

    Please have your supervisor address the reference letter to miwx@novonordisk.com.
    Please kindly note that we cannot check the receipt of each individual application. If you’ve received an e-confirmation of your application, it means you have submitted your application successfully.

    Best,
    Mian

  26. Posted February 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
    Harleen says:

    Hi Mian,
    Thank you for helping the applicants in the application process.
    I would like to know if recommendation letter would be advantageous in the application or one could show it afterwards if he/she would pass the screening?

    best regards/harleen

  27. Posted February 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
    William says:

    Dear Mian,

    Is it possible to apply for more than one program? If so, should I summit the same application letter or should I adapt it, stating that I am also applying for other programs?

    Thank you!

    William

  28. Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink
    Farah Shah says:

    Hi Mian!

    I’m about to apply to the RA graduate programme. I had a question about the letter of recommendation. Who should it be addressed to? Please let me know soon, as the deadline is approaching.

    Thank you very much.

    Regards,

    Farah

  29. Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear William,

    Yes, you can apply to more than one program. However, it’s advisable to apply for max. two. Additionally, you should be able to justify the correlation between the two programs so you can still be perceived as focused and knowing what you really want.

    Hope it helps,

    Mian

  30. Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Hi Harleen,

    A reference letter is not mandatory during the preliminary screening stage. You can just include the contact info of your referee(s) in your CV. If you were chosen to proceed further in the selection process, the recruiting manager will probably ask you for a letter or call to your referee(s) later.

    Best,
    Mian

  31. Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Hi Farah,

    Plesae address the letter to Jakob Wolter.

    Best,
    Mian

  32. Posted February 4, 2013 at 2:05 am | Permalink
    Saurabh Aggarwal says:

    Dear Mian,

    I will be completing my MBA from IIM Calcutta (India) in March and have previous international work experience of almost 3 years.

    Am I eligible to apply for the graduate program?

    Thanks
    Saurabh

  33. Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink
    Harleen says:

    Hi Mian,
    Thank you so much for your reply!

    best regards/harleen

  34. Posted February 4, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Saurabh,

    Thank you for expressing your interest in the graduate program. However, you may be overqualified for this program, as it’s targeting (relatively) new graduates with no more than 2 years of full time work experience.

    Best,
    Mian

  35. Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink
    Zila says:

    Hi Mian,
    I do not hold a master degree, but i am currently working in a multinational company as a country regulatory affairs expert for the past 5 years. I am realy interested to apply for this program, and i would kindly want to seek your opinion if i am eligible to apply?
    Thanks Mian.

    Sincerely,
    Zila

  36. Posted February 4, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Zila,

    Thank you very much for expressing your interest in the RA program. However, holding a Master’s degree is a requirement for the program entry so in that case I’m afraid that you won’t be eligible to apply. Plus, the program aims on hiring new graduates with no more than 2 years of full time work experience.

    Please check out the career page of Novo Nordisk. There are many job openings in RA.
    http://www.novonordisk.com/careers/job_section/current_jobs.asp

    Best,
    Mian

  37. Posted February 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink
    Ruoyu says:

    Dear Mian,

    I have just sent in my documents. Would like to thank you and Tamara for sharing your thoughts and experience on this website. The blog posts were extremely helpful throughout my application process, for my self-reflection and the writings as well. Thanks a lot :)

    All the best with future work and life!

    Regards,
    Ruoyu

  38. Posted February 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink
    Joseph Nguyen says:

    Dear Mian,

    Since i recently graduated my MSc in Public Health, i havent received my diploma yet. And my latest online transcript isnt fully updated – it still misses the grade from my thesis and last course.

    Is it possible to send the diploma later on? I’ve attached the latest transcript in my application, even though it isnt fully updated yet.

    Thank you for your time!

    BR
    Joseph

  39. Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Joseph,

    Yes, you can send your diploma later. Your most recent transcript should suffice.

    Best,
    Mian

  40. Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Ruoyu,

    It’s nice to hear that Tamara and my blogs were of some help.

    Good luck with your application.

    Best,
    Mian

  41. Posted February 10, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
    Ewa Dybowska says:

    Dear Mian,

    My situation is very similar to the one described by Joseph. I applied to the Graduate Programme in the field of Global Marketing. I have graduated, I do have my Master’s degree but unfortunately I didn’t receive my diploma yet. I have attached my supplement to the diploma. As you anwsered Joseph, it is possible to send the diploma later. However is there any email address to which I should write the information that my diploma will be send later? I really care about this programme and I am worried that my application will not be taken into consideration without the diploma enclosed.

    I will be very grateful for your response.

    Best Regards,
    Ewa

  42. Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear Ewa,

    Thanks for the inquiry. As long as you have attached your latest transcript, it’ll suffice. I will ask my Global Marketing colleague and get back to you with regard to what to do given your situation.

    Best,
    Mian

  43. Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink
    Ewa Dybowska says:

    Dear Mian,

    Thank you very much for your fast response.

    Best Regards,
    Ewa

  44. Posted February 21, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink
    HanYe says:

    Dear MiLan,

    I saw the information that all the applicants will recieve a reply at the end of February. I wonder when it will happen for the phone interview.

    Will you provide the avalible dates for a phone interview if the applicant will get through the first stage?

    Best wishes,

    YeHan

  45. Posted March 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink
    Anurag Sati says:

    Hi Mian,

    I am Anurag Sati from India and I hold a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and 4 years of job experience in Regulatory Affairs (Labeling) after bachelors, currently I am pursuing my Master’s degree from MLU Halle Wittenberg in Germany, I want to apply for graduate Regulatory Affairs program for year 2014. First I want to know whether I am eligible for this course or not? Secondly if yes then what is the selection procedure after getting selected in online application. I just want to prepare well in advance.

    Thank you very much.

    Sincerely,
    Anurag Sati

  46. Posted March 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
    cazare camine pentru muncitori says:

    Thank you, I have recently been looking for information about this subject for a long time and yours is the greatest I have discovered so far. However, what about the bottom line? Are you certain concerning the supply?|What i do not understood is in truth how you are no longer actually much more neatly-preferred than you might be now. You’re so intelligent.

  47. Posted March 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink
    Mian says:

    Dear YeHan,

    Thanks for your inquiry. I have not been involved in the interviews but as far as I know, we have now completed the process of short listing the candidates to proceed to the next screening step.

    Kind Regards,
    Mian

  48. Posted April 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink
    Rajasekhar Pandarathil says:

    Dear Mian

    Hi, I am glad to introduce myself as Rajasekhar hailing from India , Asia .I am a post graduate in Biotechnology and has 6 years of experience in Industrial Quality Control and Quality Assurance. I am interested in this course. If I am not eligible can you please provide me some universities so that I can do my phd in Regulatory affairs / science.

    waiting for your response

    Thanks and regards
    Rajasekhar
    +919987024952
    +919833749076

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