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Nursing Careers: Getting In the Door With a Great Cover Letter

by Greg Cryns

              As you’re nearing the end of your nursing education, you’re probably starting to think about the next step – a job!  Completing job applications and sending cover letters can be a daunting task.  But if you follow a few simple rules, you won’t have to worry so much about presenting yourself well. Your cover 

letter will provide the first impression to your future employer.  That means it needs to be a good representation of who you really are.  At the same time it needs to be concise and professional.


            The first thing you need to do is make sure that you create a new cover letter for every job.  If you’re applying to be a staff nurse at one hospital and a home healthcare nurse at another, make sure you have two different letters.  You’ll need to have critical information about the positions on your letter.  One size doesn’t fit all.


            Second, make sure that you address your cover letter to an actual person if possible.  While, “To Whom It May Concern,” may seem easier, it’s not the best way to catch someone’s eye.  Make a few phone calls until you find out who will be reading your resume.


            Your cover letter should be designed to make you shine.  This is not the time to be modest.  Make sure you outline all of your accomplishments and why you’re the best person for the job.  Be specific about qualities you have that fit each particular job opportunity.  At the same time, don’t make promises that you can’t deliver.  If you pretend to have qualifications that aren’t legitimate, your employer is likely to find out during the interview or your first few days on the job.  Be honest.


            Keep your cover letter concise.  You should use a block style with a space between each paragraph.  Also try to keep your paragraphs short so that they’re easy to skim by the employer.  Avoid the temptation to go on and on about a specific quality you have or to repeat yourself.  Your cover letter can be as short as three paragraphs and should be no longer than five.


            Edit your cover letter well.  It should be free from misspelled words and punctuation errors.  You should also double-check to make sure you’re using correct grammar.  Even if you’ve read it a hundred times, have someone else edit it for you.  They’re likely to find mistakes that you’ve overlooked.


            You should also review any contact information on your cover letter and make sure that it’s correct.  If you’ve moved or changed your phone number and use an old computer file, these things may need to be updated.  Finally, make sure you sign your cover letter.  Your signature is a little touch that shows you really care about the job opportunity.



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