Being a nurse, you’re a superhero in the modern world, ready to put on a uniform and use your stellar skills to conquer the domain of healthcare. There’s just one step that you need to complete first—to get the job, you need a strong resume and an outstanding nursing cover letter.
Now, you may be thinking that your abilities in handling countless patients, organizing chaos, and deciphering doctors’ handwriting are enough to get you employed. So, why should you spend your precious time writing a cover letter when you should already be attending to patients who are in need of your assistance?
Here’s why: a well-written cover letter is a secret weapon in the job-hunting process. It opens the door to new career possibilities, grabs the attention of potential employers, and can single-handedly secure interviews. We’ll discuss all of these aspects in this article, so let’s get started!
Your nursing cover letter should be one page long, containing 3–5 paragraphs and 250–400 words.
Add contact details to the header of the document, and don’t forget to include a formal greeting and closing.
When talking about your skills and achievements, make them relevant to the position that you’re applying for.
Don’t repeat the contents of your resume; add new information.
Write a catchy first paragraph, include a call to action in the last one, and consider adding a postscript as an additional attention-grabber.
The Best Format for Your Nursing Cover Letter
One of the most important aspects of writing a compelling cover letter is knowing how to structure and format it. Similar to your nurse resume, your cover letter should also be brief and concise but packed full of valuable information. This is important whether you’re writing a nursing cover letter as a new grad or a seasoned veteran.
First off, it’s essential to keep the document one page long at most. It’s often better to be on the shorter side, but you don’t want to keep it too short. Aim for a cover letter with 3–5 paragraphs and 250–400 words.
Furthermore, you want a clean and professional document. Don’t overdo it with flashy and colorful design, especially if you lack design skills. Here are some tips on how to create a visually appealing layout for your cover letter:
Cover Letter Layout
You should use a proven font (e.g., Arial or Helvetica).
Font size should be 10–12 pts.
Set margins to 1 inch on all sides.
Use left alignment for the text.
Your letter should be single-spaced with additional white space between different sections and paragraphs.
Now let’s check out what to include in a letter and how to arrange its content:
What to include in a Cover Letter
Put your and the recipient’s contact information in the header.
Open the letter with a formal salutation.
Create an irresistible first paragraph to grab their attention.
Continue with the body of the letter split into several paragraphs.
Finish the letter with a call to action.
Include a formal ending phrase.
(Optional) Add a postscript that features a particularly catchy detail.
Complete Guide to Writing a Nursing Cover Letter
Now that we have a basic understanding of what a cover letter should look like, we can go into more detail regarding its content. Keep in mind that the key principles of writing a cover letter remain the same, regardless of whether you have decades of experience or are creating an entry-level nursing cover letter.
Before we get started, here’s a brief visual example to show you what your cover letter should look like:
#1. Add Contact Information in the Header
The header of your nursing cover letter is the best place for contact information. You should include your details as well as your recipient’s. Furthermore, don’t forget to add the date of writing.
When listing the addressee’s information, it’s a good idea to do research and find out their name instead of merely addressing a recruiter or a hiring manager. That way, you start building rapport right from the get-go through personalization and show that you’re a diligent, attentive individual.
These are the details to include:
Optionally, you can add your mailing address and relevant links to your social media profiles (e.g., LinkedIn).
Let’s see that in an example:
1717 Clifford Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
Hospital Hiring Manager
Columbus Community Hospital
110 Shult Dr
Columbus, TX 78934
#2. Greet the Hiring Manager
There’s no need to overcomplicate the formal salutation of your cover letter. One of the best ways to open it is with a simple "Dear" followed by the recipient's name. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
Greetting the Hire Manager Guidelines
If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name, use their title.
Avoid the generic “To whom it may concern.”
Use “Ms.” instead of “Mrs.” or “Miss.”
#3. Emphasize Your Achievements in the Introduction
The harsh truth is that not all hiring managers read every cover letter that comes their way. Just like with resumes, they might skim through some of the letters or skip them altogether. That’s why you want to start strong with an impactful introduction paragraph to grab their attention and get them to keep reading.
You can achieve that by turning the first paragraph of your nursing cover letter into an elevator pitch. Add a couple of your most impressive skills and achievements in a couple of sentences to give the reader a hint of what you’re capable of. That way, they’ll be interested to see what else you can do.
Let’s check out a good example:
I am writing to express my keen interest in the Registered Nurse position at Columbus Community Hospital, as advertised on your website. With a Master’s Degree in Nursing and 7+ years of experience managing staff and providing high-quality care to up to 25 patients per day, I am confident in my ability to contribute to the exceptional service that your esteemed institution provides.
#4. Elaborate on Why You’re the Right Fit
The body of your nursing cover letter should demonstrate why you’re the best person for the job. This part is the main selling point of the document, and it should feature the most information. In 1–3 paragraphs, you want to expand on your nurse skills and achievements to emphasize your knowledge and competence in the field.
Let’s see that in an example:
“As a dedicated member of the emergency department at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, I have spearheaded the implementation of a new triage system, resulting in a 27% reduction in patient waiting times and up to a 25% boost in overall efficiency. The initiative garnered me an award for Excellence in Patient Care.
Notice how the candidate used numbers and percentages to make their achievements stand out. They help quantify your work and make it more concrete in the eyes of hiring managers.
Another important aspect of cover letter writing is relevance. You want to show the abilities and accomplishments that potential employers want to see. Instead of haphazardly adding random details to your nursing cover letter, you should research the company to find out who their ideal candidate is.
On a related note, you can get bonus points by showcasing in-depth knowledge of the organization that you want to join. By mentioning some of the reasons why you want to work with them in particular, you’ll stand out among the other candidates with generic cover letters.
#5. Add a Call to Action
Once you’ve given hiring managers enough information to show them what makes you the best person for the position, you want to incentivize them to contact you. That’s why you need a strong call to action in the final paragraph of your nursing cover letter to end it on a high note.
After politely thanking the reader for their time, mention how you’d love to hear back from them and discuss your potential future together in greater detail.
Here’s a good example:
Thank you for taking the time to consider my application. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss how my skills and career goals align with Columbus Community Hospital’s requirements in more detail.
#6. Formally Close the Letter
Remember how we opened our nursing cover letter with a brief and stylish greeting? We want to close it in a similar manner. There are several ways to go about it, with some of the most common being:
You should put your name right underneath it and call it a day. Here’s an example:
Pro tip: You can add a postscript for an increased chance of grabbing the reader’s attention. Most people read this bit, even if they skip the rest of the letter entirely. By including a particularly impressive achievement in your postscript, you can get the hiring manager to circle back and read the rest of your nursing cover letter.
#7. Proofread the Cover Letter
A nursing cover letter is an important document, which is why you should proofread it thoroughly. A cover letter for a nursing student should be just as polished and professional as that of a senior nurse, as the benefits extend beyond just spotting mistakes. Here are some of the benefits:
Benefits of Proofreading the Cover Letter
You can improve the clarity of your message and convey the information easier by adjusting parts of your nursing cover letter.
A carefully proofread letter shows enhanced professionalism and dedication to perfection.
Proofreading helps you spot and correct any potential issues within the format and layout.
Reviewing your cover letter helps you verify that it’s properly tailored to the specific position that you’re applying for and matches your resume.
Nursing Cover Letter Example
Let’s put everything that we’ve learned so far into practice with a complete nursing cover letter example:
Nursing Cover Letter Writing Tips
Here are a few final professional tips to wrap up this comprehensive lesson:
If you’re writing a nursing cover letter with no experience, you should focus on the accomplishments obtained in your academic career. You can also put more emphasis on your skills and motivation.
A nurse’s job often requires an assortment of soft skills in addition to all the role-specific hard skills. Don’t forget to mention abilities such as communication, decision-making, or critical thinking.
You should submit your nursing cover letter in PDF file format when sending a soft copy. It’s a versatile format that can be viewed on any device without changing its format or layout.
Demonstrate cultural fit by showing knowledge and understanding of the healthcare organization that you’re applying to. Be sure to mention whether your values and experiences align with theirs to demonstrate that you can contribute to their endeavors.
You now know the power a well-crafted nursing cover letter holds. It’s a passport to the professional world and a way to stand out in a sea of scrubs.
As you start writing, remember that this document represents a snapshot of your unique and personal journey. Let your personality shine through along with all those impressive skills and accomplishments. Go forth, armed with knowledge, confidence, and nursing prowess. You’re one cover letter away from your dream job and the frontlines of the healthcare battlefield!