I thought I would share my experience applying for neonatology fellowships. The process is generally more independent than its residency counterpart: there are now a handful of applicants (like 2-3, or in my case, one) instead of the 30+ who applied in Pediatrics from my medical school.
If you know a faculty member who recently went through the match (a key factor – two of my mentors obtained positions outside of the match before it was formally adopted by my program), then by all means use them! Residency and fellowship applications/interviews are similar and some of the same approaches worked, but it is definitely a different game.
Submit on time
Last year, ERAS opened December 1 and I was advised to have the application in by the end of January – I actually submitted on February 15 and ended up doing fine, but there was 1 program that I couldn’t interview at because of dates. The 16 others that I did were clearly not a problem ^_^
Obtain strong letters
As with the residency application, you should balance (a) seniority and (b) personality – aim to have letters from senior faculty who know you (easier said than done). Some programs also require a residency Program Director letter, and some encourage a letter from a PICU attending. This year (and probably next year too), the NICU uses its own letter of recommendation form, so you should give your letter writers (a) the LoR cover letter, (b) the NICU-specific form, (c) your CV and personal statement, and (d) plenty of time!