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Spice Up Your Cover Letter!

nurse, nursing, cover letter, cover letter new grad, cover letter tips Spice Up Your Cover Letter!

Often your cover letter is the first contact you have with a prospective employer.

THE book with all your job search questions answered!!

It’s crucial that your new grad RN cover letter capture the reader’s interest instantly, because it’s estimated you only have about ten seconds to do so.

But how do you create an attention-worthy, captivating cover letter when you don’t have experience?

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Make them want to meet you in person with your cover letter

No worries- you absolutely can if you spice up your cover letter! Use these tips to greatly improve your chances of being favorably noticed and contacted for an interview as a new grad RN. I have an example of a  sample cover letter for a new grad nurse for you that is compelling and interesting.

But first the basics. It’s like cooking: adding the spice comes after you’ve created a basic but bland dish. Then you sprinkle on the spice sparingly to take it up a notch.

Let’s make sure your cover letter stands out among the hundreds of others. Here’s the basic recipe:


Difference Between a Cover Letter and a Resume


Do not recap your resume in your cover letter.

Cover letters and resumes are two different documents for one purpose- to land an interview! Both should highlight your skills relevant to the job you are applying for, and both should show that you are the best fit for the job.

Your resume lists your work history, and provides a summary of your skills, abilities and accomplishments, tailored to the job you are seeking.

Your cover letter introduces yourself to an organization, demonstrates your interest in an opening, complements your resume, and motivates the reader to interview you.

 New Grad RN Cover Letter Basics


Limit your cover letter to one page, with three to five short paragraphs, in a pleasing layout with ample white space. White space provides contrast to dense text and gives your reader bite-size information at a time, with a visual and mental break in-between.

No artsy fOnTs or wiLD graphics unless you are applying to an artsy kind of industry (not nursing). When it comes to using multiple fonts, don’t. Less is more. Times New Roman, Calibri and Arial at a ten to twelve point size are clear and easy to read.

Using a non-standard font is risky, because the computer on the other end may not recognize an unusual font.


Avoid cliches, buzzwords, and overused terms, because everyone uses them:

  • Team player
  • Results driven
  • Strong work ethic
  • Detail-oriented

They are dull filler words, unless you back them up with examples. Better to give examples that illustrate the “detail-oriented, team playing, results-producing, ethical” kind of awesome employee you are. As a bonus, you will have also illustrated that you have excellent communication skills!

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Standout with a Winning Cover Letter! and a red blouse!


Mirror the culture. As an example, hospitals are typically conservative organizations, so be conservative, but not stiff or overly formal.  Strike a professional but friendly and engaging tone.

The person reading it on the other end is a person just like you who enjoys a personal touch and stories.


Do use a person’s name in the salutation. Do not use “To whom it may concern.” As a last option, use “Dear Hiring Manager”.

Your Qualifications =Their Needs

Highlight your relevant qualifications, bridging your qualifications to their needs. It’s about them, not you.

Show them that you are the best fit for their organization.

Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and try to anticipate what they need in order to see that you are the best fit.

Before composing your new grad RN cover letter, research the organization. Be familiar with their mission statement, service lines, and so on. Are they for profit, not for profit, faith-based? Do they do a lot of community work compared to other organizations? Are they accredited in Chest Pain, Stroke, Diabetes?

Pay Attention to Job Posting Keywords

If  “leadership qualities” is listed as a keyword in the job posting, show that you are a leader. But instead of  saying “I’m a natural leader”, say “I led a community vaccination drive for our senior class project” or “I’m always picked as jury foreman and committee chair. I enjoy the responsibility and leading others.”

Personal examples are memorable and make you stand out

Last Paragraph

Do close with an active call to action. This could be “I will contact you early next week” or “I look forward to setting a time to meet with you”, “I welcome the chance to speak with you”, etc.

Avoid weak or overly passive endings such as “If interested, I hope you will contact me”.

Discuss the next steps. If you are going to follow-up in one to two weeks, you can mention a specific date. If you would prefer to leave the ball in their court, say that you look forward to discussing your qualifications further (but word it confidently, to indicate it’s a given). Don’t forget to thank them for their time.

Don’t Rush

Set the new grad RN cover letter aside for at least twenty-four hours without looking at it. Some typos have a habit of not showing up until then. (I once received a resume where the applicant misspelled the hospital’s name).

In the meantime, have several friends with editing abilities review it. It has to be mistake-free.

Here is a Sample Cover Letter for New Grad RN to get you started! Good luck!


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Do Not Give This Answer to the “What’s Your Greatest Weakness Question?”

An Amazing Job Interview Tip to Get Noticed 


Would you share your job searching tips? Leave a comment, I will respond to you!


Until next time friend,

Nurse Beth



About Beth Hawkes (146 Articles)
Nice to meet you! I'm a Nursing Professional Development Specialist in acute care, a writer, speaker and career columnist.

3 Comments on Spice Up Your Cover Letter!

  1. Awesome, I will use the tips to edit my cover letter!

  2. LOVE the headline idea and the PS too!!! I am likely going to shift from longterm/subacute rehab to acute care and am anxious to use a header on my cover letter. Def like the distinction between cover letter and resume. Very very useful tips! I give it 5/5 stars!

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