With our population aging and the future of healthcare in a state of uncertainty, nursing careers are flourishing. Nurses of all backgrounds and specialties are in high demand, especially in non-urban areas with understaffed healthcare clinics.
But high demand doesn't always make the playing field easier for job seekers; on the contrary, an attractive career option often means tighter competition, which means you'll have to go the extra mile if you're looking for an entry-level nursing job and you want to set yourself apart.
A strong cover letter can give you the edge you need! Here's how.
- Research shows that 45 percent of job seekers—even in a competitive field like this one—don't even bother to write a cover letter at all. Possibly because they don't think employers will read them, they just skip this step. But not you! Take a few minutes to create a letter and introduce yourself and you'll automatically put your candidacy in the lead.
- Resumes can come off as a laundry list of relatively common qualifications. They tend to list similar degrees and similar clinical experience, so at the end of the race, the remaining candidates often seem equally qualified. Cover letters, by nature, aren't similar at all. Backgrounds, passions, writing styles, and personal details vary widely. So your cover letter can easily break a tie.
- Your resume gives you a chance to show off your language and communication skills, which are absolutely essential for success in a healthcare setting. Don't miss this opportunity.
5 Elements of an Entry-level Nursing Cover Letter
Your cover letter doesn't just need style and flair; it needs professional formatting and a business-standard layout. Use our cover letter builder and you'll be certain that you're on the right track and all of your information is included and properly placed. Your document should include five main sections:
- Personalized Greeting: Direct your cover letter to a specific person, if you can determine who that person might be. Double-check the job post or search the company website if you aren't sure. Use the first name and the last ("Dear Asi Wexler", not "Dear Asi" or "Dear Dr. Wexler") since guessing about titles and genders can set you up for a mistake.
- Engaging Opening Paragraph: Your first paragraph should encapsulate the entire substance of your letter—and your candidacy. Try to infuse this first statement with your strongest selling points, whatever they may be. Your wit? Your wisdom? Your greatest accomplishment? Your passion for helping people? Let it shine here.
- Value-based Second Paragraph: The second paragraph of your letter should provide substance to back up your opening statement. Your hook, as it's shared here, should draw a line between what you have to offer and what your target employers need.
- Body: The body of your letter should focus on an easy-to-read, easy-to-remember review of your "value proposition," or the list of clinical skills, special training, and practice areas (geriatrics, emergency, oncology, etc.) where your abilities shine the brightest.
- Closing Paragraph(s): There's no need to repeat what you've already said in your closing paragraph, but the final lines of your letter should highlight the details you most want your readers to remember after they put your letter down. End your communication by laying the groundwork for next steps.
Best Practices for Writing an Entry-level Cover Letter
Your entry-level nursing cover letter can be written using any language or style you choose, of course. If you speak from the heart and honestly share what matters to you, you'll help your employers understand who you are. But following a few simple guidelines can help you avoid common reasons for being overlooked.
"Best practices" in cover letter writing, as in nursing, are simply the methods that experience and research have revealed to be the most effective—for any number of reasons. Try these moves and you'll elevate your chances of landing an interview invitation.
Align your entry-level nursing cover letter with your resume. A glance at both documents should reveal no discrepancies and no confusing or conflicting information. The same person should clearly be the hand behind both, and this should show through in tone, visual style, and a highlighting of your most important passions, accomplishments, and professional drivers.
Keep your story and goals constant. If your resume leaves gaps that need explanation, provide that explanation in your letter—For example, if you live in one city but are currently moving to another, or if you studied one specialty area but would like to work in a different one.
Keep both documents short. Your letter should not exceed one page.
Resumes can come off as a laundry list of relatively common qualifications. They tend to list similar degrees and similar clinical experience, so at the end of the race, the remaining candidates often seem equally qualified. Cover letters, by nature, aren't similar at all. Backgrounds, passions, writing styles, and personal details vary widely. So your cover letter can easily break a tie.
More Entry-level Nursing Cover Letter Tips
Cover letters can boost your chances of getting a job interview. Review these additional tips to make sure you have all of your bases covered as you learn how to write a cover letter for an entry-level nursing job.
- Highlight, rather than repeat, your resume. A cover letter is designed to complement, not regurgitate, your resume. Take advantage of your cover letter real estate to sell yourself further by putting a spotlight on your most relevant accomplishments.
- Write in the first-person. There is no "I" in resume, but writing a cover letter allows the use of a first-person voice.
- Focus on the most relevant information. Don't stray away from information that is directly related to the job ad. Keep your cover letter content focused on needs outlined in the posting to catch the eye of recruiters.
- Leave out personal details. Information about your age, religions, or political preferences can introduce bias into the hiring practice.
- Keep it simple. While you want your cover letter to be attractive, never use flashy fonts or borders, and never include photos. Match the style of your cover letter to the industry at hand. If you are applying for work in a conservative industry, use a more conservative resume template.
- Use a Cover Letter Builder: If you remain stuck in putting together a satisfactory cover letter, or if you just feel like you need a push in the right direction, take advantage of LiveCareer's excellent cover letter builder.