Yes, Cover Letters Are Still a Thing — Even for Nurses

Yes, Cover Letters Are Still a Thing — Even for Nurses

When you’re in the market for a nursing job, you want to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd, and you absolutely need a flawless and well-written resume that gives a clear picture of your skills, knowledge, and experience, and then there’s the cover letter. Some may consider it old-fashioned, but if your cover letter can tell a compelling story about why you’re the ideal candidate, it could be the factor that puts your application over the top and lands you an interview.

Do I Really Need a Cover Letter?

Online job applications always have a place to upload your resume, which you’ll doubtless do every time. But when you see that extra “optional” space to upload a cover letter, do you usually skip it? While it might be easier to hit “submit” without adding that optional cover letter, why wouldn’t you want to make sure that your application was as complete as possible?

Letter writing might be a lost art that’s fallen out of favor with most people. Still, when you go to the trouble of crafting an awesome cover letter, you wonder if it just might be the factor that differentiates you from other candidates.

Breaking Down the Cover Letter

A cover letter has several essential sections, and it’s an easy formula to follow. Let’s explore how to make it work for you.

Letterhead: At the top of your resume and cover letter, you’ll want to have matching letterheads. Your name and credentials will be at the top, preferably in a slightly larger bold font. Next, you’ll want to have your entire address or at least your city and state of residence. Finally, remember your phone number and email address.

Introductory paragraph: The introductory paragraph should clearly state what position you’re applying for and where you saw the posting. This is also an excellent place to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and understand something that stands out about this particular facility or employer.

Please accept my enthusiastic interest in the Registered Nurse – New Graduate Nurse Residency Program – Operating Room position posted on your website. I am both personally and professionally aligned with the values that are a very clear aspect of your organization’s mission. From your “Power of Caring” funding of your newly expanded Outpatient Care Center to your “Next Generation Group” initiative, I can see the forward-thinking philosophy underlying UM BWMC. 

Body: The body of your cover letter is usually two or three paragraphs that tell the story of why you’re an ideal candidate for the position. While you don’t want to repeat what’s on your resume, feel free to refer to something of note in your resume that you want them to be sure to notice. So go ahead and make a compelling case and toot your horn.

I graduated from Appleton University’s BSN program in May 2019, where I made the Dean’s List every semester and graduated summa cum laude. I thrived in clinical practice, receiving positive feedback from preceptor evaluations for all rotations. 

While I may be a new graduate, I am responsive to feedback and easily trainable. I am comfortable in new settings and am not afraid to ask questions to enhance my learning and improve the care I deliver to patients and their families. I thrive in a multidisciplinary environment, and I use my highly-developed communication skills and emotional/relational intelligence to create a sense of camaraderie, collaboration, and mutual support. 

Additionally, I am highly competent in using EPIC and have full confidence in my natural curiosity, hand-eye coordination, and powers of critical thinking in relation to new technologies and digital interfaces. I am a quick learner, unafraid to ask questions and receive constructive feedback. 

As you can see, this new grad nurse was sure to mention his comfort with computers and new technologies and was able to identify a popular EMR that he’s competent using. He also mentions his “soft skills” of communication and emotional/relational intelligence. This has nothing to do with unnecessary boasting — instead, it’s a humble brag of what makes him the person and nurse he is.

If this was a letter by a more seasoned nurse, they should point out a specific skill set that’s directly related to the position.

Closing: The closing paragraph restates your interest in the position and expresses enthusiasm to meet for an interview. And note that it’s unnecessary to give your phone number or email address since those are on your letterhead. They know how and where to contact you.

I have a great deal to contribute as a member of the UM BWMC community of clinicians. I look forward to discussing the intersection of my skills and experience with the needs of your inspiring organization that embraces its role beyond the actual facility and into the surrounding community it serves. 


Awesome Nurse, BSN, RN

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

A job application without a cover letter is an incomplete application for all intents and purposes. If you don’t take the time to write a strong cover letter making the case for why you’re awesome, you’re essentially selling yourself short. Use the cover letter to tell your story, sell your strongest attributes, and call attention to aspects of your resume that are worthy of particular note.

Cover letters aren’t rocket science, and once you have a solid template to work from, a new letter should take at least 15 or 20 minutes. Ensure your grammar and spelling are flawless, tell your story with authenticity and clarity, and make every cover letter shine.

Looking for a new nursing job or career advice? Visit Daily Nurse’s Nursing Career Resource Center.