Writing a cover letter when you’re on the hunt for a nurse practitioner job can often feel awkward and intimidating. The anguish of it might even make you reconsider your quest for a new job altogether. “Why, oh why, can’t my resume or CV be enough?”, you might ask yourself as you curl up into a ball of dread behind the computer screen.
As trivial as it may seem, a cover letter can be very beneficial in giving you a leg up on the competition and can ultimately mean the difference between an employer ignoring the rest of your application package or calling you in for an interview.
While it’s tempting to use a generic one-size-fits-all letter, sending out the same broad cover letter is easily recognized and will make no impression on an employer. But, taking the time to tailor a cover letter so that it’s applicable to each NP position you apply for will not only help you get noticed, it’ll show the employer that you’re serious about your interest in the opportunity. Fortunately, writing a cover letter doesn’t have to be scary. Here are few key guidelines to adhere to each time to not only help you breeze through cover letter writing, but also to help get your job application noticed.
Format your cover letter similarly to a professional business letter with no more than a few paragraphs on one page. Remember a cover letter is a complement to your resume, not a reiteration of it. Keep the font simple and easy to read, preferably matching the same font as your resume or CV.
Sticking to the formal business letter format, include a header that reflects both yours and the employer’s contact information, followed by the date. If you’re sending your cover letter as the body of an email, it’s still important to include your contact information; but rather than listing it at the top of the page, place it after your signature. Include your first and last name, street address, city, state and zip, phone number, and email address.
Addressing the letter directly to the person responsible for hiring with “Dear Dr./Mr./Ms. Last Name”, is much more likely to grab their attention from the start than the generic, “To Whom It May Concern”. If the name of the person responsible for hiring is not already available to you on the job posting, take some time to research for this information on LinkedIn, Google or the company’s website as best as you can. You can typically find the name of the person responsible for hiring nurse practitioners and their contact information on a company’s website under Provider Opportunities or Physician Recruitment, as many facilities typically have a page dedicated to this. If you can’t find this information, simply writing, “Dear Hiring Recruiter” is still a more effective way to write the salutation.
Stating which position you’re applying for and how you found out about the opening in the introduction is not only important so that the employer is easily able to identify the position you’re interested in, but it’s also your first opportunity to make a compelling pitch as to why you’re the ideal candidate. In order to get their attention right away, avoid telling them the obvious with a generic statement such as, “I am writing to apply for the family nurse practitioner position”. Instead really sell yourself with a statement that highlights what qualifications you possess that specifically relate to the job.
The most effective way to craft a catchy opening statement is to read the job description carefully and evaluate how your unique skills and experiences match up, and then lead with your most valuable (yet applicable) qualifications. For example, if the position is for a FNP with a minimum of two years experience working with cardiac patients, you can say something along the lines of, “Having been a family nurse practitioner who has spent the last five years in a cardiac setting with ABC hospital, I am writing to express my interest in the interventional cardiology position with XYZ Hospital, posted on Indeed.com.”
The body is your moment to put a face and personality behind the facts of your resume, letting your passion and enthusiasm as a nurse practitioner shine. It’s also your chance to explain the reasons for your interest in the position and the organization, and to detail what skills and experiences you have as a NP that are relevant to the job.
Organizing your applicable qualifications and experiences using bullet points is a great method to help you stay on point and keep you from losing the reader’s attention. To make it easy on yourself, use words and phrases direct from the job description and then give examples of how certain instances from your experience tie in to those requirements. As an added bonus, many companies use automated application screening systems, so using exact keywords and phrases from the job description throughout your cover letter will also help ensure that your application is picked up by the system.
Keep your closing statement short and to the point, quickly reiterating why you are the ideal nurse practitioner for the position. Don’t be afraid to be so bold as to tell the employer that you’d love the opportunity to interview for the position. You can also make it clear as to what you’ll do to follow-up and when you’ll do it; or alternatively you can use a more subtle approach to elicit action from the employer by saying something such as “I look forward to hearing from you once you have reviewed my application.” Lastly, thank him or her for their consideration and don’t forget to include a formal signature with your first and last name.
Pay Attention to the Details
Paying attention to little details like grammatical errors and attachments can go a long way. Before sending your cover letter off, proofread, proofread, proofread! Remember to label all of your electronic attachments with document titles that are short and easy to reference.
Did your nurse practitioner cover letter get noticed?