New Grad Needs Resume and Cover Letter Critique

  1. Hello all! I'm a New Grad and I have yet to fulfill my nursing dreams. I graduated April of this year and I've had one interview out of over 100 positions that I've applied for. I don't have a great GPA, but I have glowing recommendations from my clinical instructors. I don't have any hospital experience except for a volunteer position which I was actually paid workstudy for because my university is part of the hospital. I have revised my resume and cover letter countless times in the last 8 months and I decided to post it here to see how else I can sharpen it up. Right now my resume is at 2 pages (my clinical rotation part is in a table). I also have further employment positions but they are extensive (about 7 jobs) and only consist of clerical and tutoring jobs and I don't know if I should add them.

    Name, BSN, RN,

    Obtain a RN I position with Hospital to fully utilize my nursing education, skills and knowledge to give the highest level of comfort and care to my patients.

    Bachelor of Science in Nursing, April 2012
    University 2, City, CA

    Pre-Nursing Certificate, May 2009
    University 1, City, CA

    Preceptorship: NICU
    Hospital, City, CA
    Jan-Apr 2012 224 hours 4 Simulation hours

    Community Health:
    County Program, County, CA
    Jan-Apr 2012 144 hours

    ICU/ Telemetry/ Special Care Unit
    Hospital, City, CA
    Nov-Dec 2011 144 hours

    Pediatrics Med-Surg/ PICU/ NICU:
    Hospital, City, CA
    Oct-Nov 2011 144 hours 6 Simulation hours

    Labor and Delivery/ Postpartum Care/ NICU:
    Hospital, City, CA
    Sept-Oct 2011 144 hours 6 Simulation hours

    Hospital, City, CA
    Jan-Apr 2011 288 hours 10 Simulation hours

    Mental Health:
    Hospital, City, CA
    Sep-Dec 2010 144 hours 4 Simulation hours

    Student Volunteer, July 2011 to April 2012, 340 hours
    Hospital, City, CA
    -Greeted and provided services to customers in the Gift Shop and visitors in the Family Resource Center at the Summit Campus
    -Gift Shop duties included ringing up sales, arranging store displays, stocking store items, housekeeping duties, inventory and handling store returns
    -Family Resource duties included assisting physicians in contacting family members, escorting patients to CPU, restocking hospitality items, and setting up heart video for Pre-Op patients

    Professional Student Worker, November 2009 to April 2012
    California Department of Public Health, Vaccines for Children Program, City, CA
    -Arranged and filed VFC Program forms and maintained current files to assigned counties
    -Entered and updated provider information, vaccine orders and losses in the program's online Vaccine Management System and VACMAN computer system
    -Received and made calls to VFC enrolled providers and answered calls within the H1N1 call center
    -Contributed to special projects and assignments as needed, such as research for the TDAP Expansion Program

    -California RN License #
    -Basic Life Support for the Health Care Provider
    -Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support
    -Pediatric Advanced Life Support
    -Neonatal Resuscitation Program
    -12-Lead EKG

    -FACES: Bridging the Gap: Student Panel and Simulation Instructor (March 2012)
    -Samuel Merritt University: Patho-flow sheet Instructor (Fall 2011 and Spring 2012)
    -Samuel Merritt University Student Flu Clinic: Injections (Fall 2011)

    -Sinkler Miller Medical Foundation Auxiliary Scholarship
    -William Randolph Hearst Endowed Scholarship
    -Bachelors of Science in Nursing Health Professions Education Foundation Scholarship
    -Samuel Merritt Scholars in Service Scholarship
    -Samuel Merritt Institutional Scholarship

    Name, BSN, RN,

    Date, 2012


    Attn: Nursing Recruitment

    My name is NAME and I am a graduate of University's Bachelor of Science Nursing Program. I am eager to be a part of Hospital's [RN New Graduate Training Program/nursing community]. With their emphasis in quality care and their commitment to the community, Hospital will be the perfect first step for me to begin my career as a nurse.

    As a nurse in your [program/hospital] I will bring my experience in working with diverse communities, a strong passion for evidence based practice, and my education that is rooted in patient-centered care to Hospital. I completed my preceptorship in the NICU at Hospital in City, CA where I gained critical care skills while learning how to be part of a team of care-givers whose goal is to provide quality patient care. I have taken advantage of several opportunities throughout my clinical rotations which allowed me to utilize my leadership skills. During my preceptorship in the NICU, I created my own flow sheet to organize my notes during report which resulted in several nurses whom I worked with adapting my flow sheet methods as part of their work regime.

    In addition to my nursing skills, I will bring customer service and teaching skills to Hospital. My two 1/2 years at the California Department of Public Health has taught me how to provide excellent customer service to patients. In addition, my position at CDPH allowed me to access various resources throughout California in which I learned how to research comprehensive services to specifically fit the needs of patients. Moreover, I gained valuable training experience by teaching new Student Workers at CDPH and student volunteers at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.

    I look forward to meeting you in person and discussing the multitude of nursing skills that I can contribute to your [program/hospital]. If there is anything else I can offer about my qualifications, my phone number or email listed above is the best way to contact me. Thank you for your time and consideration as I look forward to the opportunity to relocate to City in Month 2013.


    Name, BSN, RN
    Last edit by Joe V on Apr 10, '18 : Reason: removed bold formatting
  2. Visit coughdrop.2.go profile page

    About coughdrop.2.go, BSN, RN

    Joined: Nov '12; Posts: 722; Likes: 1,077
    Public Health Nurse; from US
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience in School Nursing, Public Health Nurse


  3. by   RNfaster
    Work hard on the grammar. Cut fluff and details that are irrelevant to the positions you seek.
  4. by   coughdrop.2.go
    Quote from RNfaster
    Work hard on the grammar. Cut fluff and details that are irrelevant to the positions you seek.
    Can you give me an example of the fluff?
  5. by   mmgirlsmom
    I just graduated in December and was offered a position and start in February. I was told by one of my clinical instructors, who also had extensive interviewing/hiring experience, that the cover letter should be very short and to the point. Literally, no more than a few sentences because everything else they need to know is included in your resume. I was able to get my resume, even though I am a second career nurse, down to just one page. I think employers just need the facts. They know you completed clinicals as this is required to graduate from nursing school so I do not necesarily think you need to include all of that information on your resume. You might want to work shortening your resume and cover letter. Good Luck!!!
  6. by   RNfaster
    I agree with mmgirlsmom suggestion to condense your clinical experience. I'd also cut most details on non-nursing jobs.

    That will get some "fluff" out. It's not always important to have a lot when you're first starting. Work on the grammar (to remove fluff). Grammatical errors and spelling errors would be a reason I would toss a resume.

    My name is NAME and I am a graduate of University's Bachelor of Science Nursing Program. I am eager to be a part of Hospital's [RN New Graduate Training Program/nursing community]. With their emphasis in quality care and their commitment to the community, Hospital will be the perfect first step for me to begin my career as a nurse.

    As a recent RN-BSN graduate, I seek to join Hospital's [RN New Graduate Training Program/nursing community]. My experience includes: over 1200 hours of clinical work (if going for NICU job, highlight your preceptorship here --if other position, you might highlight particular number of clinical hours here), customer service, and community health volunteering. Furthermore, I received five scholarships, including x (prestigious scholarship) for z performance.

    <you could also add stuff about your state job in here and something about clinical/school experience...>

    Hospital's emphasis on quality care and community commitment <maybe add something BRIEF that shows you researched something in particular on the institution> make it an outstanding place for me to begin my career as a nurse.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    This stuff (and other verbose stuff) is fluff to me:
    I look forward to meeting you in person and discussing the multitude of nursing skills that I can contribute to your [program/hospital]. If there is anything else I can offer about my qualifications, my phone number or email listed above is the best way to contact me. Thank you for your time and consideration as I look forward to the opportunity to relocate to City in Month 2013.
    Hospitals hire new grads... and they know they don't have a lot of experience...
  7. by   coughdrop.2.go
    Thank you guys so much! I will do a lot of editing today!
  8. by   NRSKarenRN
    I see no need to list simulation hours as basic to nursing program. Group your volunteer activities in gift shop in one sentance with Family resource center activities into another one; I'd place this FIRST to highlight experience dealing with families.

    Since many facilities going to electronic medical records, add a section: Computer Skills. List applications you are familiar with including level of proficiency.
  9. by   coughdrop.2.go
    Should I remove my Objective statement especially if I have a cover letter?
  10. by   RNfaster
    You might tailor the objective statement according to the position. As a new graduate, it might be best to keep it general (e.g., "New grad seeks entry-level nurse position" rather than "NICU position").

    NRSKaren makes a really good point about highlighting computer skills and experience with families.

    The way you present yourself in writing can help sell yourself and also point at your charting abilities. It can be tedious to rework a resume and cover letter, but it should pay off.
  11. by   trueblue2000
    I like your profile. If I was hiring, I'd call you for an interview. When I applied to the UCLA new grad program, the application instructions specifically required that applicants state their clinical rotations on the resumes. They even provided a template, in table format, which I slightly adapted and that I am copying below. The table format UCLA recommended I think is great because it really organizes your clinical experiences neatly and also saves space on your resume. During my interview the recruiter mentioned that they are looking for quality clinical experience in acute care facilities. Many school, she said, place new grads in clinics, doctors' offices and nursing homes (nothing wrong with that), but that is not UCLA was looking for. I see that most of your clinicals were in acute care, so you are already ahead of the game. The recruiter also said that they place emphasis on the applicants clinical rotations because that is the extent of hospital experience that most grads have. I would take a cue from UCLA and focus both your resume and cover letter on your clinical experiences, which it seems to be your strong points. You got to keep your resume under one, maximum two pages, so there is not much space to elaborate on your clinicals there. I suggest you use the cover letter instead. Unlike what another member said, I don't think yours is too long at all. Actually I think it is just the right size (mine was actually longer), but I think it needs to be rewritten. From my own research on cover letters when I was looking for a job, the main rule for cover letters seems to be not to repeat what is your resume (think about it: why would they ask for two documents with the same information on? It is wasting the time the recruiter). So I think you can start by removing the first sentence which states your name and your school. I would also remove the reference to the hospital being the perfect first step to begin your career (it gives the impression that your are using them to get some experience and then move on). Also, if that particular hospital is such a perfect place for you, you have to say why, which will show that you did some research about the place and yours is not a boiler plate cover letter you are sending to everybody. Actually, that is the impression that I have of your cover letter, that is just too general and not tailored to the specific hospitals you are interested. In the first paragraph I would mention why specifically you are interested in working for that hospital. Although I made it to the final round of interviews at UCLA, I was not offered a job there but was accepted a catholic hospital network new grad program. In my cover letter for them, for instance, I mentioned that I, as a Christian, was committed to the same principles of charity and service that inspired the nuns who found that hospital system in the 19th century, which was why that hospital network was good fit for me. I suggest you do the same, do some research and mention in your cover letter something specific about the hospital that makes you interested in working there. Another rule for cover letters is that they need to sound sincere and genuine, like you actually wrote it. I think that your cover letter fails that requirements because of expressions like "emphasis on quality care and their commitment to the community", "strong passion for evidence based care", "education that is rooted in patience-centered care", all of that sounds kind of phony to me, sounds like you lifted those terms off some textbook or research article and pasted on your cover letter. I would keep them off. I would also avoid mentioning "leadership skills". You are a new grad looking for an entry level position, this is not a management position, I don't think leadership skills is what they are looking for. Plus you don't seem to have that much experience so saying leadership skills may sound like you are overstating your qualifications, or just trying too hard. I say focus on your clinical skills/rotations. Expand the second paragraph to include more examples, more illustrations, like the one where you mentioned you created your own flow sheet. That was awesome. It shows you have initiative and are organized, great skills for a new grad. Add more of those in your cover letter. I also liked that on your third paragraph you mentioned non-nursing experience. Much of the skills you use on other activities are transferable to nursing. As one of my instructors once said, "nothing is wasted in nursing". I would also make some changes to your conclusion. Drop the "multitude of skills" part (it is dishonest, as a new grad with no hospital experience other than clinicals, you don't have a multitude of skills, especially the clinical skills they are looking for). I would just mention contributions to the team and how I would be a good fit. In summary, I think the structure of your cover letter in four paragraphs is very good but improve on the content. As you did, use the first paragraph to introduce your application and say why you are interested in working on that particular hospital (give specifics). Use the second paragraph to elaborate on your clinical experience. Use the third to bring in your non-nursing experience. Use the fourth as a conclusion. To the extent you can, throughout the letter, avoid boiler-plate expressions and above all be honest and realistic about your qualifications.

    Experience Dates Hours Hospital/Facility Unit
    Preceptorship June - August 2012 180 University Hospital ICU
    Clinical Rotation June-July 2012 60 Infirmary
    Clinical Rotation January - May 2012 120 L & D
    Clinical Rotation January - May 2012 120 Medical-surgical
    Clinical Rotation August - December 2011 120 Psychiatric
    Clinical Rotation August - December 2011 120 Medical-surgical
    Clinical Rotation May - July 2011 60 Medical-surgical
  12. by   coughdrop.2.go
    Thank you trueblue2000. It's interesting how I get so many different opinions! My clinical table on my resume (I made it more of a list to post it here) is similar to yours. I added that because I applied for UC Davis and they specifically asked for that on the resume as well as a few other hospitals I applied to. I will keep my longer cover letter format then!
  13. by   double_minority
    I'd like to say thank you too to the OP for starting this thread and everyone else for their heavy contributions!

    DM, AAS, RN. New grad :-(
  14. by   SCSTxRN
    It has always been my advice to new grads in any profession, but nursing included, to format a skills based resume.

    Objective: One concise sentence of what you want.

    Licenses: State, ACLS, BLS, Certs relevant to the job

    Education: With the GPA unless it's <2.5 - 2.8 or so, because if you don't list it, they will think it's horrible.


    Clinical Experience (if you're including it):

    Job History:

    References: Conventional wisdom is available upon request, because if they ask you know they're looking at you. In this job market, I've taken to including my references - because they can check me out in the time that they try to track my competition down for their references. YMMV. And always, always, ALWAYS get someone's permission before you use them as a reference, provide them with a copy of your resume.

    And write a thank you note (handwritten, with a stamp) for every single interview you get.
    Last edit by SCSTxRN on Dec 30, '12 : Reason: eta thank you notes