Critique my cover letter! (seriously, rip this baby apart) - page 2

by woahmelly

6,949 Unique Views | 28 Comments

Here's my cover letter that I will be sending to a new grad program. Should I add in anything regarding experiences or use their vision statement or mission at all? It's a 200ish bed christian based not for profit facility so I... Read More


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    Quote from BostonTerrierLoverRN
    Wow, I wish all the students on AN beginning a job hunt could read this post. (no bite marks either, see woahmelly, that wasn't so bad!)
    I'm job hunting - and bookmarking this!! Thanks & good luck!!!!!!!
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    Instead of "I always seek ways to increase my knowledge..." Tell them how, without reiterating your resume. Are you taking any specialty certification courses, or planning to? I don't mean the standard ACLS, BLS, EKG. It's on your resume already. For example, my post RN certification is geriatrics, because I'm committed to working with seniors. My friend has hers in maternal-child health. Consider concrete areas or interests you have which match the organization's values.
    woahmelly likes this.
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    i've written many cover letters and i am currently job seeking. my cover letter is constantly evolving. i tailor it to suit the company i want to hire me. i've had mine critiqued. i'll pass on some of the advice i was given.

    1. if i can't find the name of the hr person on the company website try calling the hr department to get a specific name. "hello my name is ____ i would like to send a cover letter and resume to apply for _____ , can you please tell me who i should address my letter to?" most people are willing to help. if not then go with dear sir/ madame. but a name makes it personal.


    2. first paragraph: how do you know the reviewed your application? you want them to read your resume and application. tell them why you want to work there and what would make you an essential part of their team. use their own mission statement to your advantage.

    3. second paragraph: brag about your special/extra accomplishments. you have some good points but you need to shorten it up and accentuate, make it standout in a way that specifically applies to them.

    4. last paragraph thank them for their time and tell them you look forward to scheduling an interview, let them know your resume is attached and if possible give them a date that you will call back to f/u.

    make sure everything is spelled correctly and there are no grammatical errors.
    woahmelly likes this.
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    I was a Recruiter for 15 years. I had to cull through hundreds of resumes everyday so here's my advice and thoughts for you:

    -your cover letter determines whether or not I am even reading your resume (sad but true there are just too many to read them all)

    -make it short and easy to read. Be brief but highlight what makes you the best candidate and what separates you from other candidates.

    -I never cared if it was addressed to me by name or not but I do prefer To Whom It May Concern as opposed to Sir or Madam (I hate Madam so this is just me personally)

    -I don’t have much time but here is a quick review and change I made to what you have. If there are skills that put you above other candidates or that pertain specifically to what you are applying for PUT THEM IN HERE!

    Good luck! Hope my quick review helps you.


    Thank you for reviewing my application for the XXX Medical Center New Graduate program. As of May, I will have completed the required clinical experience as well as more than 150 hours of preceptorship and will be eligible to sit for the NCLEX.

    In addition to the requirements of the program I obtained my ACLS certification in December 2011 to supplement my BLS certification. I completed a 30 hour basic EKG course and recently finished the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) training via the American Heart Association. I also obtained Conflict Prevention and Intervention (CPI) nonviolent intervention and de-escalation training to intervene in potentially dangerous situations and help resolve them safely.

    Being active within my community is important to me and because of that I participate on the Disaster Action Team with my local Red Cross chapter as well as being a medical reserve corp volunteer for my county and the state of XXXX. I look forward to bringing that commitment to your facility and the community of XXXX.

    Enclosed is my resume for your review and look forward to discussing it further with you.

    Sincerely,

    XXXX
    woahmelly likes this.
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    Great advice everyone. If I may, here are some additional pointers:

    The first paragraph needs a lot of help. It should in four sentences or less state the exact title of the position you are applying for (which you only sort of did), state who you are (which you didn't) and serve as an introduction to all of the fabulous skills, knowledge and accomplishments that you detail further in your letter. A possible rewrite would be:

    Greetings! I am applying for Graduate Nurse Intern position with the XXX Medical Center New Graduate Program (find out the exact name of the program and the exact title you will have during the new graduate program). I am a nursing student at xxxx college/school of nursing and will be eligible to sit for the NCLEX this spring of 2012. (The last sentence should say something very general about your skills/ knowledge/ competencies that are aligned with the mission statement and/or "job description" of what they are seeking in a good candidate).

    Give a date that you will be eligible for the NCLEX as this will determine which cohort you will be considered for--the manager needs to know if you are going to sit for the NCLEX this month or this year even. If you have your ATT and have already scheduled your date, either give that date or the period. "I will be taking the NCLEX at the begining of June 2012."

    Look carefully at the "job description". Are they seeking a candidate with excellent oral and written communication skills? If so, state that and give a brief clinical example of your excellent oral and written communication. This is a great way to sneak in your involvement in the community too. "I recently served as a presenter for the xxxx Red Cross chapter where I am a member of the Disaster Action Team."

    Are they looking for a good team player or a good leader? State that you are and then give a brief example.

    It's challenging to keep it short and concise but stating testifying that your have superior group member interpersonal skills as evidenced by a specific example through your medical reserve corp participation is much more interesting than simply stating that you are a member of the medical reserve corp. Kills two birds with one stone and tells a story that HR person reviewing hundreds of applications would be refreshed to read.
    woahmelly likes this.
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    WHOA everybody!!! Yes, you're trying to help, but when a person applies to a grad program (or even an undergrad program, or any other academic, professional, or even volunteer position) the whole point of a cover letter and essay is for the applicant to write HIS OR HER OWN LETTER!

    It is not OK to edit, to give feedback, or otherwise comment on a person's writing that is to be submitted to help a committee select an applicant. Very general suggestions may be acceptable, but nothing applicant specific (a general rule of thumb is to give the same type of advice the applicant could get from a 'how to' book). The whole point of these essays is

    I've been on the other side of the business world and have hired and managed employees. We trust that the words, phrases, grammar, and message of letters and essays is the work of the applicant, not the writing or edits of their mother, friend, colleague or neighbor.

    I applaud you, woahmelly, for seeking advice and wanting to make a great impression. And, I applaud all those who want to help. But, this really should be YOUR work.
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    I agree completely with Patti RN that any cover letter, in fact any letter that you will ever write, should be your own words.
    In my own critique I offer suggestions and give then give a specific example to illustrate and clarify that suggestion. I trust woahmelly and any college educated individual to know that an example or illustration should not be utilized verbatim. That is basic plagiarism.

    Any "How To" book, seminars and classes I have ever taken have used specific examples to enhance understanding of a point. Most resume books will have sample resumes--they are not intended to be copied verbatim.

    Disclaimer: The following examples are illustrations intended to clarify and promote understanding of concepts. Any document that is submitted by the applicant is to be their own work. Any advice or specific examples, whether obtained from this forum, any other internet source, book or other source should be assessed by the individual applicant and utilized at their own discretion. This disclaimer applies to any application, resume, cover letter, interview or other document submitted by the applicant that is intended to be their own work.
    woahmelly likes this.
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    Quote from Patti_RN
    It is not OK to edit, to give feedback, or otherwise comment on a person's writing that is to be submitted to help a committee select an applicant. Very general suggestions may be acceptable, but nothing applicant specific (a general rule of thumb is to give the same type of advice the applicant could get from a 'how to' book). The whole point of these essays is

    I've been on the other side of the business world and have hired and managed employees. We trust that the words, phrases, grammar, and message of letters and essays is the work of the applicant, not the writing or edits of their mother, friend, colleague or neighbor.

    .
    If this was an essay I would whole heartedly agree but for a cover letter I have to disagree. Cover letters are what get your resume read I see no issue with others helping you write it. As a Recruiter I have interviewed, coached candidates, hired thousands of people. If your cover letter and top portion of your resume didn't make me think you'd be good for the position I never even got to reading the whole resume. And never once did I assume the candidate had written everything themselves. This was a tool to get me interested and then I read your resume and then decided to call you and speak with you and make a determination on you going forward in the process. Many people use resume writing services in fact I did it as a Recruiter before sending a candidate resume onto many clients.
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    Thanks, Romie, I thought I was going to get slammed for being so 'mean'! I was actually going to use the term 'plagerism' myself, but thought it wouldn't be well-received. But, that is exactly what this is.

    I've heard of schools requiring an applicant to write another essay at the time they're interviewed to verify that the writing style, quality, and depth of intellect is similar to the original essay. They know the first will be of much higher quality, but expect that the essay written during the interview will be recognizable as the work of the same applicant.
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    I'm going to completely confuse and contradict myself here:

    Definitely consider the words and phrases used in the description of the position and in the description of the program. One resume, cover letter advice resource I read once suggested highlighting these key words and phrases and incorporating them into resume and cover letter because these days many organizations use computer programs to assist them in sorting through applications. Imagine the organization is using a google type search program and you want to make sure that your letter and resume are on the top page of results. A very basic example is this: if the source uses the word hypertension, don't use the phrase high blood pressure, but hypertension instead.

    That being said, how can you avoid the trap of being disingenuous? I don't have the answer but I think it goes back to our writing 101 lessons on paraphrasing.

    Its of utmost importance however, that your cover letter reflects your personal style and shows the person reading it a little bit about yourself as a unique individual. You certainly seem accomplished and ambitious but everyone else is also going to have as many equally good accomplishments. The difference is that you are you and people like to hire people that they like.
    Patti_RN likes this.


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