The nurse practitioner job search process can be exhausting. Not only have you applied for state licenses, made sure your BLS and ACLS certifications are up to date, and looked through at least a million job postings, you’re faced with the always daunting task of getting your resume up to date. Not to mention, you have been stuck staring at your laptop with writer’s block for hours attempting to draft the perfect cover letter. But, not so fast…
In most cases, you can skip the cover letter step when it comes to finding your next nurse practitioner job. In most cases, cover letters end up directly in the recycle bin when they hit the desks of employers. Focusing time and energy on a killer resume is the best use of your resources. For more details on using a cover letter in the nurse practitioner job search, check out our cover letter Q&A.
Do I need a cover letter?
The short answer is “No”, most nurse practitioner job applicants don’t need to send a cover letter attached to their resume. Employers won’t take the time to read it. In sifting through multiple applicants for a single position, they don’t have time to look over cover letters from them all.
Some applicants worry that when they apply for a job without a cover letter employers won’t have the information they need to make decisions about who gets to the next round in the hiring process. But, it is clear when you submit your resume to a clinic, hospital, and/or in response to a job posting exactly what you are looking for…a job. Ideally, your resume should be so good it speaks for itself. In many cases, you will be submitting your resume to an employer by email and will have a chance to correspond without a formal letter regardless.
Are you sure I don’t need a cover letter? I want employers to have as much information about me as possible.
If you feel the need to explain yourself and your career goals, you can add a short objective section to the top section of your resume. This gives you a brief platform to describe the position you are looking for and a glimpse into the value you can provide as an employee. Again, if your resume is well crafted, employers should be able to review it and get an idea for your accomplishments without a cover letter. Remember, if your resume passes the initial first glance, you will be asked to interview and can explain more about your career goals and accomplishments at this point.
You said most nurse practitioners don’t need a cover letter. Which NPs would benefit from drafting a cover letter?
Nurse practitioners with atypical employment situations or potential red flags in their resumes should address these issues in a concise, well-written cover letter. For example, if you have held six jobs in the past five years, employers will be hesitant to hire you based on your track record. So, explaining your situation up front is to your benefit. If you live internationally, or even across the country, for example, outlining the ease at which you can relocate if hired will be to your benefit. You cover letter offers employers a reason to give you a change despite a misgiving, or two.
Some job postings or employers specifically request cover letters. In these cases, of course, make sure you do include a cover letter with your resume or employment application.
If I do need a cover letter, what do I need to know about writing it?
If your employment application does require a cover letter, make sure to tweak each individual note to the position and company to which you are applying. You don’t want your cover letter to look like a canned response.
In general, a cover letter should contain your contact information, a salutation (include the name of your contact if you have one), a body, and a closing statement. In the body of your cover letter, explain what position you are applying to, why the employer should select you for an interview (what you have to offer the position), explain any red flags the employer may find on your resume, and how you will follow up about the opportunity. Using an online template to get started can help keep your letter organized.
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