When applying for a nursing position, an attractive cover letter can make a difference in helping your application/resume see the light of day with a nurse recruiter. The purpose of a cover letter is state why you are applying for the position, and why you are a good fit. If your cover letter is seen by a human, the reader will spend about 30 seconds tops skimming. Your pitch should be no more than 2 paragraphs. Don’t restate your resume. You must get to the point quickly and succinctly.
I am not giving you a template for your cover letter. A quick Google search will net you hundreds of them. What I am going to do here is give you some tips on what should be included in your cover letter to give it maximum impact.
Most large institutions have their application process online. After filling out the application, often there is an opportunity to attach your cover letter.
If you submit your application and cover letter online, the HR computer might scan for “keywords” in your cover letter.
The Anatomy of the Cover Letter
Do you address it to a specific person?
Yes, if you know the intended recipient, such a nurse recruiter. If you don’t know who the nurse recruiter is, a little research can go a long way. A simple call to the human resources department might yield the answer. A cover letter can have more impact if the greeting is directed a specific person.
If you don’t have a specific person to address the letter, than I recommend just starting in with the body of the letter. Don’t start with “To Whom it May Concern” or the like.
Dear (Insert name here), = YES, for maximum impact.
To Whom It May Concern, = NO, better to just skip it.
The First Paragraph
The first paragraph of your cover letter should state the position you are applying for and why you are interested in that position. Remember key words:
- Use the name of the unit
- Drop the name of someone you know who works there
- Weave in the nurse manager’s name if you can
- Every unit has a mission statement, state how you want to support it
The Second Paragraph
The second paragraph is where you clearly state why you would be a good fit for that particular unit. Include your best skills/attributes. Remember keywords:
- I am a team player
- I support evidence based best practice
- I am enthusiastic
- I am a fast learner
- I believe in providing top-notch customer service
(Insert name here),(Your credentials, ie: BSN, RN, CCRN, etc.)
You get the picture right? Keywords in a cover letter work. Some HR departments have technology to scan a cover letter and flag when certain keywords are found. I know of someone who scored an interview because her letter had terms the HR computer flagged positive. Keywords that triggered the response were the name of the unit, and the name of the unit’s manager. That cover letter helped get the nurses resume/application on to the nurse recruiters desk.
Don’t overlook the power of a well crafted cover letter. The purpose of the letter is to get the reader’s attention, but the letter has to be seen and that is where keywords help. If the cover letter does its job, the reader will want to look at your resume/application. Remember keep it brief, get to the point, and put your best foot forward.
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