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How to avoid cookie-cutter cover letters

In the nursing job market, your resume is an important tool in the search process. But if your cover letters aren’t targeted and specific, you may be missing out on great opportunities.

Nurses and many other professionals keep one cover letter in their files, barely tweaking it for specific positions to which they’re applying. This is a grave error. Your cover letters need to be focused on the particulars of a potential position or employer.

While online applications don’t always allow for the uploading of a cover letter, there are still plenty of nursing positions where a cover letter is not only important, but absolutely necessary. Are your cover letters custom-tailored for effectiveness?

Tailor your letters

Your cover letters need to contain specifics in terms of the actual position for which you’re applying, or at least in relation to the employer or facility in question. Cookie-cutter cover letters are easy to spot (and summarily dismiss), so tailor them carefully.

Avoid the anonymous addressee

It’s not always possible to ascertain the name of an individual to whom you should address a cover letter. However, if your inner detective is ready for action, see what you can do to discover a particular individual to whom the letter can be addressed.

A few friendly phone calls might reveal the name of the right person. If not, don’t panic, but do your due diligence in attempting to address your letter to a specific individual, if at all possible.

Keywords aren’t just for websites

If you’re responding to an ad for a particular position, read the ad closely for keywords and concepts to address in your letter. If the ad calls for a team player, cite and describe specific examples of how your collaborative efforts have benefited previous employers or colleagues.

If the ad isn’t bursting with keywords or crucial concepts, research your potential employer assiduously, learn about the facility’s mission and pepper your cover letter with language that speaks to that institution’s core values. Show that you get who they are and what they’re about, and communicate that you are the perfect candidate to fulfill their needs and live up to their stated mission.

Specific is terrific

When you are documenting a patient’s lab results, do you write down the actual value of their hemoglobin or do you give a rough estimate?

When describing the nature of a wound, are you vague, or do you write about the actual wound in front of you?

Specificity in a cover letter is as important as being specific in clinical documentation. Tailor your cover letters so they powerfully communicate that you understand what your potential new employer is looking for, what their company’s mission is and how you are the best candidate to fulfill its needs. Make your cover letters count.

By | 2015-12-29T20:51:58-05:00 December 30th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. Keith is co-host of, a popular nursing podcast, and also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He brings a plethora of experience as a nursing thought leader, holistic career coach, writer and nurse entrepreneur.

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