Standing out to hiring managers through your nurse practitioner resume and cover letter can be a challenge, whether you're searching for your first position after earning your master's degree or looking for a new role mid-career.
Nurse practitioners often do the work of doctors, diagnosing illness and prescribing medicine, so it's understandable that potential employers will scrutinize their qualifications and experience intensely.
Your nurse practitioner application materials need to inspire confidence in your abilities by showcasing your education, your experience and the special skills you possess. Read our nurse practitioner application guide to help land you the job you want.
How to write a nurse practitioner cover letter
A strategically targeted nurse practitioner cover letter may be even more crucial than your nursing resume. Nurses spend long hours working together, and as a nurse practitioner, you'll likely be in a leadership role with significant responsibilities.
Your letter should demonstrate that you're both qualified for the job and pleasant to work with. It should also convey your passion for the job and explain why you pursued a career in nursing.
Newly graduated nurse practitioners won't have a lot of practical experience to show. However, you can use the five critical components of every cover letter to highlight your academic journey, as well as use past nursing jobs and recent clinical rotations to create an application package that stands out among the competition.
Here are three tips for writing a nurse practitioner cover letter, at any experience level:
- Make a good first impression
A well-written nurse practitioner cover letter shows the hiring manager or nurse recruiter how your skills and academic training will benefit them. Many recruiters and hiring managers never read past the first paragraph of a cover letter. Be concise, grammatically correct and offer a few unique and compelling details about yourself to encourage them to keep reading.
- Be professional
A nurse practitioner cover letter should be written in a business letter format. Address the hiring nurse manager or recruiter by name, whenever possible. Include your name, nursing credentials, email and the date at the top of the letter. At the end of your letter, thank the manager or recruiter for their time and sign off with something professional, like "sincerely." Our Cover Letter Examples can help you get started.
- Tell your nursing story
Your cover letter shouldn't merely rehash details from your nurse practitioner resume. The body of the letter should be one to two paragraphs long and provide examples of how you will excel in the role you're applying for. Don't be afraid to share your patient care philosophy or a personal story about a patient experience that changed how you practice. Highlight any special skills you possess, such as speaking multiple languages or specialized certifications. Most importantly, connect your stories and skills to the needs and requirements of the job.
If you are a new graduate nurse practitioner, include details of why you became a nurse practitioner and any professional or educational goals you have for the future. Share details of internships, preceptorships or any awards you received before graduation. These details will show the hiring manager you're an excellent candidate.
How to create a nurse practitioner resume
A well-written nurse practitioner resume helps a potential employer get an overview of your background and envision you as a member of their team. Your resume should contain a thorough summary of your education, previous work experience and skills, written into the five critical sections of every resume.
Here are three strategies you can use to write your nurse practitioner resume:
- Research the facility
Always do your homework by researching the healthcare facility. Acquire as much information about the role and the hiring manager as you can. Read the healthcare employer's webpage and social media pages.Look for their mission, vision and values, as well as any keywords that are repeated more than once in the employer's information. Add these keywords into your nurse practitioner cover letter and resume to align your experience with the characteristics they are looking for in candidates.
Next, review the nursing job description carefully. Pay close attention to any specific requirements, such as nursing skills or certifications that you possess. Be sure to add these details near the top of your nurse practitioner resume, in either your summary or skills sections.If you are a newly graduated nurse practitioner, highlight past academic, volunteer or nursing experiences that align with the job description. Include details about the clinical rotations you completed in similar specialty areas.
- Write a career summary
A one-of-a-kind career summary at the top of your nurse practitioner resume can provide the hiring manager a glimpse of the details to come. Include information about specialized nursing skills or certifications that meet the employer's needs. Add in a few details about your nursing care philosophy and any soft skills you possess, such as communication, teamwork or empathy.Add one or two nursing keywords into your career summary that you found during your research. Place them strategically at the beginning of sentences or statements. If you're unsure of how to create a well-written career summary, read through some nurse practitioner resume examples to get inspiration.
- Include the most important details of your work history
Your nurse practitioner resume should hold all the details the manager or recruiter needs to decide on your candidacy. It should be one page long and include critical information about your academic studies or past nursing experience.
Here are a few headings you can use to capture essential information, whether you're a new graduate nurse practitioner or one with many years of nursing experience:
- Education or degrees
- Professional development
- Job history
- Continuing education
- Clinical experience
- Volunteer work
The way you arrange these headings will depend on the resume format you use. The three main resume formats are:
- Chronological, where you list your experience in reverse chronological order. This is the most common format, though it's not always the best way to highlight your experience, especially if you are a new graduate or have gaps in your work history.
- Functional, which puts the emphasis on your skills and is a great resume format for new nurse practitioners or those re-entering the workforce.
- Combination, which uses a blend of the two other formats.
Learn more about the best resume format for your experience via our Resume Formats page.
Putting together your application package
A well-written nurse practitioner cover letter and resume are an essential part of your application package. Tapping into your network can help those documents get into the hands of the hiring manager. If you don't already have one, create a profile on LinkedIn and connect with your classmates, as well as former professors, managers and colleagues.
Reach out to your school's career services office or alumni network to see if they can put you in touch with anyone at the facility where you're applying. These personal connections can make a difference, so don't skip this step.
Our Resume Builder can help you create a well-written, professional nurse practitioner resume in no time at all. We also offer a Cover Letter Builder that will help you showcase your nursing experience and tell the story that will help you secure the nursing job of your dreams.