Whether you are an experienced certified nursing assistant (CNA) or you only recently received your CNA certification, an engaging cover letter and detailed resume will help you stand out above other applicants.
As you search for the right CNA position, here are some practical insights that will help you confidently create these two essential components of a compelling application package.
CNA cover letter
A CNA typically works directly with a registered nurse and has constant interaction with patients, so people skills are paramount. Your cover letter is the place where you can demonstrate both your qualifications and show a bit of your personality. This isn't a cubicle job where you'll be sequestered away on a computer, so the person hiring a CNA wants to know that they're going to enjoy working with you and quickly be able to trust you with important — and sometimes critical — responsibilities.
When combined with your resume, your cover letter brings personality and voice to your skill set. But where to begin? We recommend studying the job description for ideas. Look for skills or experience you have that the employer highlights in the posting. Then, explain your background and use a short anecdote to demonstrate your skills.
Using cover letter templates or reviewing CNA resume examples are excellent ways to find inspiration for your CNA application materials. You can also use our Cover Letter Builder to walk through the process. Once you have a layout and a basic idea of what you'd like to share, you'll be surprised at how quickly your cover letter comes together.
Here are a few important reminders:
- Contact information. List your name and contact information at the top, and double check for accuracy.
- Recipient's name. Avoid general and impersonal greetings such as "To whom it may concern." Address the hiring manager by name to engage them and highlight your confidence and professionalism. If you're unable to find their name, search the job listing for who to contact with questions. Don't be afraid to call the facility and ask who is in charge of hiring for the specific position.
- Introduction. Create an introduction paragraph that's customized to the position you are applying for. If a friend or acquaintance referred you to the job, now is the perfect time to mention it. Then, briefly describe why you are interested in the position and note a few attributes that make you a strong candidate.
- Body. Your next 1-2 paragraphs are where you discuss your relevant experience and the skills that make you a great fit for the job. Summarize your education, relevant volunteer experience and certifications. Be sure to quantify your experience by listing volunteer and clinical hours completed. List one or two of your most relevant certifications, and refer the reader to your resume for a full list.
If you are a CNA with a few years of work under your belt, discuss your previous units/facilities, list some of the skills you developed and explain how you put them to use. Mention if you're adept at taking vital signs or patient grooming, but try to go deeper as well. For instance, did you learn to interpret vital signs, and how to recognize when to alert the doctor?
If you're writing a CNA cover letter with no job experience, emphasize the skills you obtained in your clinicals and your training. You may not be an expert yet, but to earn your certification, you had to display some level of proficiency. Also, mention any relevant skills you obtained through your non-medical jobs and life experiences that will make you a great candidate, such as:
- Ability to multitask
- Personable conversationalist
- High functioning in stressful environments
Finally, end your letter by telling the hiring manager what you want them to remember about you as a candidate, and let them know that you look forward to discussing the position with them. Being assertive, direct and persistent shows confidence and lets the employer know that you're serious about the job.
Once someone reads your cover letter, they'll flip to your resume to review the nitty-gritty details of your experience, skills and education. If you're writing a CNA resume without experience this may seem daunting, but, if you use a resume builder, finding the right resume format and organizing those experiences into a professional resume may be easier than you think. On your resume, you'll want to make each word count. Here's what your CNA resume should include:
- Professional Summary: Compose 2-3 sentences or bullet points that highlight the kind of nursing position you want, concisely introducing yourself and your intention/objective.
- Skills: Your CNA resume skills section should list 6-10 bullet-pointed skills that are most relevant and impressive to the position you are applying for (both clinical and interpersonal).
- Work History: Start your most recent or current job, and then go backward, listing all relevant positions. List your most senior title and dates of your employment to show consistent employment. Under each position create approximately 3-5 bullet points summarizing your roles and accomplishments while there.
- Education: List your most relevant education first. For an aspiring nurse, that would be where and when you did your CNA training. Next, list other degrees you've obtained, as well as when you received them and the institution's name. You should also list any relevant certifications like CPR/AED.
As you begin your job search, pair this guidance with our easy-to-use Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder. Both of these tools alleviate a lot of the guesswork that can sometimes go into resume and cover letter writing. You can also peruse our selection of Nursing Assistant Resume Samples to find inspiration for how to tackle the writing of your resume.