Nurse managers-what do you like to see on cover letters?


  • Specializes in ED, Rehab, LTC. Has 3 years experience.

I get all kinds of conflicting advice on what to write. I've seen sources that say some up your skills on your CL and others say do not repeat what is on your resume. Well, I don't have specific skills listed on my resume; I keep my job descriptions pretty generic. I just feel like nurses have a pretty good idea what a nurse has skills in according to the type of jobs listed on the resume. Plus, I don't know how to put my skills on a cover letter without making it look like a list. I am truly clueless. I don't want to sound lame on my cover letter. Does anyone have any good website sources or advice on cover letters that will stand out in an area that's not exactly suffering from a shortage of new nurses? And how do you stand out when you've worked in a completely different field then your applying for???

I have written a lot of cover letters and still don't have the job I want. I use a block format and I try to address either the recruiter or the nurse manager specifically. I have one last shot at my dream career opportunity and really want to make an impression. I am open to absolutely any advice, no matter how common sense it might seem.



135 Posts

As a new grad I was dreading applying because I was dreading the cover letter. Turns out, the places I applied to had everything online and didn't even know who I should address/direct a cover letter to! I asked several people and they were like "Oh, um, well I don't know! We don't really need one, everything we need is in the application". Got job offers at both places and took picked the one I wanted. That doesn't answer your question. But maybe you don't need a cover letter?


178 Posts

have someone good at writing proof read it for you, for starters. I'm lucky, my mom's a former newspaper editor.:D find somebody like that who can make sure it's perfect for you. it's amazing some of the stuff I miss without doing that. spell check is next to useless, sometimes.

I'm no career advancement guru but it makes sense to me to use the cover letter to express things you can't put in the resume - let them know you're committed and reliable and compassionate and stuff like that. "I've had a special interest in working with this patient population ever since my experience doing _______ because __________, and it would be a privilege to have this oppurtunity. Thank you for your consideration."

if you don't know who will be reading the letter, you can always start it out "Dear Sir or Madam"...and if possible it's always best to sign the letter by hand above your printed name. obviously email kinda killed this, though I've seen some people who will scan in their signature and attach it as an image to things.

there may be older wiser nurses than me who can give better advice, but if I were writing it I'd include stuff like that. good luck!!:up:


681 Posts

Has 2 years experience.

If you're applying for an area in which you have no direct experience, try to decide what qualities, not just tasks, are needed to excel at that job. Then use your cover letter to briefly highlight your matching qualities.

I don't think it matters so much which format you choose, but it matters greatly to have a few short, well-constructed paragraphs that get your points across. To a busy person who reads many resumes and cover letters, it's off-putting to see a page dense with words.

Use active voice and strong verbs. Deploy short words rather than long. Would Churchill have motivated England if he'd said: The hostile forces will be confronted on the land-water interface?

"We shall fight them on the beaches" has a better ring to it, eh?

Write with fire, polish with flame.

Good luck to you.


234 Posts

Specializes in Home Care, Primary care NP, QI, Nsg Adm.

Consider first that resumes are usually read quickly depending on the number to be read and the time the person has. You want to grab attention quickly.

In cover letters and resumes be careful not to over embellish. It can be apparent and anything negative detected in a resume will usually finish it at that point.

My own resume has been a work in progress for several years. The more confident I have become in my career, knowledge, experience and attributes the easier it has become to put that into writing in a way that truly reflects what I believe about myself in a brief but meaningful way. The idea is to grab attention so the resume sticks out and doesn't get tossed aside.

A cover letter should flow well and in narrative form say things that are not included in the resume but you feel significant for the position your looking at. Don't assume "nurses have a pretty good idea what a nurse has". Imagine if your reading 40, 50 or hundreds of 'generic' resumes, which would get your attention?

Cover letters, in my opinion require some creative writing style and naturally, must reflect what is important about you for the position you are applying for. I currently work in an overseas contract and in possible preparation for a return to the States I recently wrote a cover with the first paragraph about 'navigating through the current economic chaos', understanding the impact on hospitals and telling a potential employer what I can do as an administrator. You have to write to fit the position, organization, time, etc.

I include accomplishments and significant responsibilities in my career summary and that is tricky. How to reflect the many things I have done and continue to do without making it a small booklet. The more confident you are the less you feel compelled to write. For one resume, I reduced 5 or 6 conference presentations into a paragraph. That was tough, but I am more confident now. But, I can include all the presentations if the position calls for it.

Look at samples of resumes on line. And very important advice already given, proof read, proof read, proof read. nothing worse than grammatical errors. For me, I would just toss a resume that has spelling and other errors. I feel silly when I post quickly on online forums and later find errors because I did not proof read. What about a resume for a serious position that you need and/or want?


255 Posts

Specializes in ED, Rehab, LTC. Has 3 years experience.

Thanks for all the great advice.

After reading these posts I realize I am being to long winded with my letters and I am not confident because I don't have experience in the area I am applying. I do, however, have confidence in my ability to learn and be great at what I am going to do. I don't want to list specific skills because it really makes it very long and I am not necessarily proficient in those areas. I simply usually state that I have been working as a Registered nurse since... and had previously worked as a practical nurse while furthering my education. The only other things I can really include is phlebotomy certification. So I have tried to let my ambition and enthusiasm shine through with my words rather then saying I have all this experience because I really don't.

Thanks again for the advice I will take notes and hopefully improve.

Feel free to add to the post if anyone has any more advice.


90 Posts

Specializes in LDRP/Nursery/Peds/Gyn, school nursing. Has 17 years experience.

I don't have experience in the area I am applying. I do, however, have confidence in my ability to learn and be great at what I am going to do. .

That's exactly the tone you should have throughout the letter. Everyone has to start somewhere, so what will set you apart is your passion for the job. There are so many other applicants who just want to fill the hours and collect the paycheck. Your letter and your eventual interview are your opportunities to show that you have that intangible "something".

At this point, too, do your research into the area of nursing that you are interested in-- check out their professional association's website, identify your resources for learning, etc. That way, you can go in and tell them "I don't have actual experience in XX nursing, but I have resources to help me learn and they are A, B and C"

Good luck!

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