You might think that the only thing you need to land your next nursing job is a well-crafted resume but catching a hiring manager's eye will require more than well-presented credentials. Your future employer wants to know you're a motivated employee and a good fit for their culture. Your nursing cover letter is your first chance to show who you are as a person.
Every nurse is unique, from LPNs to new grads to nurse practitioners. Your cover letter is the place to highlight what sets you apart. Here are the essentials you need to know for an effective cover letter for a nursing job, whether you are tenured staff looking for a new position or a recent graduate looking for your first position.
Make it specific to each employer
Many applicants are tempted to use the same nursing cover letter for each job. However, every employer has their own set of qualifications and experiences they look for in a candidate. If you use the same nursing cover letter for every job you apply to, you'll miss the opportunity to highlight how you fit the position's specific needs.
For example, the demands of a hospital wing will be far different than those at an inpatient clinic, and you may want to highlight different skills for each position. Changing your letter to fit the specific job requirements of each opportunity allows the manager or recruiter to see how you fit into their unique scenario.
Do your homework: research the culture of the healthcare facility and any specific characteristics that make them stand out from other employers. Start with the office or hospital's social media accounts. How do they portray themselves to patients? Try to determine what's essential to the facility, such as:
- Community involvement
- Specific healthcare services
- Academic research
- Cutting-edge technology
Incorporate a few of these qualities into your nursing covering letter. For example, if community outreach is vital to the facility's culture and you volunteer with an organization or have gone on medical mission trips, those experiences should be right up front in your nursing cover letter.
Ensure you’re using the right nursing cover letter format
Whether a cover letter for a new grad or one for a tenured nurse, the letter should reflect the applicant’s unique qualities. However, you should keep the critical, must-have cover letter components in mind when writing the letter. Aim to find the name of the recruiter or hiring manager, and address your letter to him/her.
Next, include a compelling opening paragraph that explains why you're the best candidate for the job. Provide your qualifications and how they meet the needs of the facility. Then, in your body paragraph(s), give some specific examples of your experience and accomplishments (and make sure they are ones that relate to the job at hand).
Close the letter out with a summary of your goals and a quick request for a follow-up from the manager. If you'd like to review some nursing cover letter examples before you get started, check out our Registered Nurse Cover Letter Examples.
Keep it short and simple
One of the golden rules of nursing cover letters is to keep it brief. If you've been an LPN, RN or nurse practitioner for a few decades, you may be tempted to fill up a few pages. On the flip side, if you're writing a new grad nursing cover letter, you may struggle to write a few hundred words.
Regardless of your experience, keep your cover letter to one page. Tell them why you're interested in the facility and the position, share some of your background that matches the skills they're looking for, and include any specialized training or education you possess.
Always use a professional cover letter format and keep it single spaced. Include the employer's mailing address, date and your address at the top of the letter.
Capture your personality
Nursing is a personal profession. Most managers want to know they're hiring someone who has a passion for the career and can relate to patients. When sharing information about yourself, don't shy away from telling a story about why you went into nursing or how one patient influenced your decision to pursue a particular specialty.
When providing details about yourself in your nursing cover letter, show pride in your professionalism, training and education. Include details about any awards or special recognition you've received in the past. If you're a new grad, talk about the scholarships you received, internships you completed, and any awards you earned in school. All of these details create a picture of who you are as a professional and as a person.
Pay attention to details
No director, manager or nursing recruiter likes reading a nursing cover letter full of spelling and grammatical errors. When reviewing for grammar, read your nursing cover letter out loud to yourself. Listening to your letter is the best way to find mistakes. If you're not confident in your grammatical skills, ask a colleague, friend or family member to review each letter before you send it.
Give yourself an edge
When you create a nursing cover letter that complements your stellar resume, it hopefully won't take long before managers and recruiters come calling to schedule an interview. If you're not sure how to get started, use our Cover Letter Builder to create a letter that will get you noticed. Then, you can sit back, wait for the phone to ring and set up interviews for your next nursing opportunity.