Expert spotlight: Crafting a creative cover letter

Nurse Leader Insider, July 6, 2009

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This week, Kathleen L. Garrison, MSN, RN, clinical educator in the nursing practice, education, and research department at Prince William Hospital in Manassas, VA, provides some expert cover letter advice.

Q: I will be relocating in a couple of months and need to start sending out resumes and cover letters to area facilities so I can continue my nursing career. Do you have any tips for writing cover letters?

A: With every resume you send out, you will need a cover letter. Think of the cover letter as the activity or attraction brochures displayed in racks at hotels and restaurants. You select one that looks interesting and read the cover synopsis. If it grabs your attention, you will be more likely to consider it as a potential activity. If it reads poorly or doesn't grab your attention, you will likely skim over it and select another.

Cover letters that are well written and personalized make the reader want to stop and look at your resume in closer detail. It is always a good idea to do a little research on the company or facility you are applying to and mention something specific that interested you about the place. This indicates to the recruiter that you have taken the time to learn about the facility. In addition, be sure your cover letter contains the following information:

  • Which job you are applying for
  • How and where you heard of the opportunity
  • Why you are interested and feel you are the best candidate for the job
  • A brief summary of your qualifications and experience
  • Contact information
  • A line thanking the facility for considering you

A note of importance regarding both your cover letter and your resume: Spend a few extra cents and purchase high-grade paper to print them on. Also, select a font and size that look professional. Times New Roman or Arial in no less that 10 points (12 points is preferred) is appropriate. You don't want to stand out in the crowd in a negative way by being referred to as the owner of a flamboyant, unprofessional resume in the stack.

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? Email your queries to Editor Keri Mucci at and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.

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