How to write a cover letter for a nursing job application
Writing a cover letter can be tough, so our guide below breaks it down into three manageable sections
7th September 2010
The cover letter that accompanies your nursing job application is crucial to getting your CV noticed. It’s important to remember that your cover letter is a completely different document to your nursing CV. You should aim to provide more of an overall picture of you as a nurse rather than giving specific employment details and dates, because your CV will give all the specific details you need to convey.
A simple way to divide up your nursing cover letter is into three sections. The first paragraph should cover who you are and why you would be suited to that nursing job. The second should cover your nursing qualification and experience, and the third should summarise what you envisage for the role, how you could maximise your potential in that nursing job and requesting an interview.
Talk about you as a nurse
The first paragraph is the most important and vital to catching the attention of the employer reading it. Try to open with a catchy sentence that gives a good overall impression of who you are as a nurse and as a person. This is much easier said than done, especially to avoid the pitfalls of sounding arrogant or shy. The key is to promote yourself, your nursing achievements and your personal qualities.
A good idea is to start by brainstorming positive words that describe you, for example: confident, committed, experienced, motivated, ambitious. Then include the ones you chose into a sentence about you. Don’t try to force in all of the words you can think, it’s more important that everything you write sounds like you. Try to structure your answer as if you were responding to this question, ‘What makes you a great nurse who should be considered for this role?’
Give some details of your nursing qualifications and experience
The second paragraph should give an overview of your qualifications. Again, don’t go into specific dates or modules you studied because your CV will contain all the necessary specifics. Instead, draw the employer’s attention to a particular part of your nursing studies that will be especially relevant to the nursing job you’re applying for. Give details of the knowledge you acquired and how you could apply it to the nursing job, and include any professional development courses you’ve completed that would also be relevant.
The aim of this section is to convey your nursing skills and development, and convince the employer that you have the correct experience for the role. A good way to complete this section is take the essential criteria from the person specification given with the nursing job ad, and make sure you address how you fulfill each one. Also give details of the desirable criteria that you meet or don’t meet as appropriate.
Your ambitions as a nurse in the position you’re applying for
In this section you can detail how you see your nursing career progressing if you were to get this role, what professional development you would look to complete to ensure you are as competent and knowledgable in your area as possible. Detail any of your qualities that will assist you in completing your goals, and how you see yourself developing your nursing knowledge.
Close this final section by requesting an interview to discuss the nursing job and your ambitions for it further. Always end by thanking them for their time and stating your anticipation of their response.
By the time you finish this section you will probably find you’ve written a great deal more that three paragraphs, and you will need to refine and reduce the words you’ve written. Proof read your work, with a view to cutting out any unnecessary sentences. Be succinct, but clear, and make sure you don’t go over one page in total because you will lose the employer reading it and they will more than likely discard your application for the nursing job.
It’s really important to write each cover letter for every nursing job you apply for as an individual document. Each cover letter must be tailored to the nursing job you’re applying for, and should always contain the most up to date with your current development and nursing experience.
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