Don’t take for granted that you are going to get that nursing job you dream of just because you passed all of your exams. Despite there being a shortage of nurses, there is still competition for positions. To get the job that you want, you will have to stand out against all of the other RNs who are vying for that same spot.
The cover letter for your resume can help you to do just that. While many job seekers see it as just a reiteration of what their resume says, you should be looking at it as one more forum to share your exceptional abilities. The resume should tell why you are qualified for a nursing job, but the cover letter should point out why you are a perfect fit for that position which you are applying for.
A cover letter is not a one-time assignment either. In most cases you can get away with the same resume for months if not longer. A cover letter, on the other hand, needs to be personalized each time you forward it to a potential employer. Since you may need to write a dozen or more variations, here’s what you need to know to get it right every time.
You earned those letters after your name, so make sure you use them. The header should be your name, followed immediately by your credentials, such as Jane Doe, R.N. This immediately lets the institution know that you are qualified for the job. Your name should be followed by your contact information including an email address. The rest of the heading will be on the left side of the cover letter and should be formatted like this:
Job Title You are Applying For
Address (on two lines)
Dear (Mr. or Ms.) Name,
Your Introductory Paragraph
Your first paragraph should be an explanation of why you are applying for that particular position and what makes you feel it is the right fit for you. To really stand out, do some research on the institution so that you can mention specifics about them. Start out by thanking them for accepting your application before continuing with how you are a right fit for the job:
“Thank you for allowing me the chance to show my desire to work as a part of your neonatal team. It is my understanding that you have been recognized for superior care of premature infants, and I am excited by the opportunity to work with such a stellar group of professionals. I have concentrated my studies in this field and know that I have the skills and knowledge it takes to make a positive contribution to your hospital and the neonatal ward.”
The Second Paragraph
This is where you can further explain your passion or commitment to whatever specialty you have chosen, and list the personal and professional attributes you possess that make you the ideal candidate:
“It is my love for children that inspired me to specialize in pediatric nursing. As I grew in my understanding of the field I became fascinated by the evolving technologies that allow us to now save the lives of the smallest of babies. I have also found that I am exceptional at building relationships with patients, which is critical when also given the responsibility of helping new parents cope with an infant who is fighting an illness or defect.”
The Third Paragraph
With your passion and intent explained, it is now time to list the skills and accomplishments you have achieved in your training as well as personal life. It’s okay to brag a little here, but do try and only list those attributes which can directly relate to the position you are seeking. Your entire educational background can be found in your resume, so here you can just pull out and emphasize those points which make you a great candidate.
Use bullet points to list your career qualifications and accomplishments, followed by another list that shows your strengths. Keep in mind that during your interview you could be asked why you chose these particular strengths, so be ready with the supporting evidence to expand on your answer.
Strengths that will catch the recruiter’s eye include:
- Problem Solving
- Verbal Communication
You can follow these bullet points with a brief paragraph about how your strengths were obtained, and why you think they are especially important for your chosen field.
“During my residency as a student nurse, I worked the night shift often, and learned how to assess patients and ascertain their needs on my own. The independence afforded me by working in this environment built my confidence and taught me how to effectively advocate for my patients with other members of the medical team.”
Your Concluding Paragraph
Once again thanking the recruiting agent for reading over the cover letter is important as you close it out, as well as mentioning that your resume is attached. Leave them with the assumption that you are going to speak again soon:
“I am looking forward to meeting you in person to talk more about my aspirations for assisting your institution meet its goals.”
By outlining specifics about the position you are applying for, and stating facts about the institution, you present yourself as a nursing job candidate who has already invested in the job. By starting your cover letter off in this way, potential employees will be delighted to meet you in person to see if you are the right fit for their work environment.