how to write a good nurse cover letter

How to Write a Good Nurse Cover Letter

A good, tailored cover letter can help you stand out and get noticed in any job application. Here are some tips on how you can maximise your chances of getting your dream nursing job.

by L.H.

The job search process can be painful and discouraging especially when you are faced with repeated rejections despite trying your best. Even with a rise in demand in nursing jobs in Singapore at this current time, healthcare employers are always on the lookout for capable and passionate individuals, especially in institutions that are popular. 

Find out how you can differentiate yourself from other candidates and get your foot through the door with a good nurse cover letter below.

Differences in resume and cover letter

person wearing black coat close-up photography

One common rookie mistake during the job application process is to assume that resumes and cover letters are interchangeable. Resumes and cover letters serve very different purposes and do in fact look very different from each other. 

Resumes are formal documents that are meant to summarise and showcase your career journey and skills acquired along the way. Traditionally, they tend to include a professional summary, work history, and educational background. 

Cover letters, however, are documents that help explain to potential employers why you are the best and most suitable candidate for the position you applied for. Beyond just listing what skills you have, cover letters explain exactly how your accrued experiences and skillsets fit the job and company that you applied for. Your cover letter should also include your professional development and growth, an adequate rationale for why you desire the position, and why potential employers should consider you out of many other applicants. Your cover letter is a good way to highlight your fit to the company’s culture as well, as that is of high priority to many employers.

Benefits of submitting a cover letter in your job application

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While many job applications will ask that you submit a cover letter in addition to your resume for consideration, it is not always a requirement. Some applications may make it optional. You should, however, submit a cover letter in your job application as much as possible.

Here are some pointers you can highlight in your cover letter that you may not be able to cover in your resume: 

  • Show why you are suitable for the job with a narrative
    Sometimes the circumstances of our life and our professional journey can take us to unexpected places with unexpected experiences. A resume can only summarise your experiences but it cannot explain your specific career narrative to a potential employer the way a cover letter can. Conveying a narrative with a cover letter helps you and your potential employer both understand why you are suitable for the job. It also helps your potential employer make sense of your professional development and growth trajectory thus far. If you’re new to nursing for example, a cover letter can help you explain to your potential employer the reasons behind your mid-career switch, especially if you’re switching from an unrelated field of work. 

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  • Explain your finesse for the job 
    It’s not always obvious to potential employers at first glance, how your past professional experiences and existing skillsets make you a suitable candidate for nursing, or how they enhance your finesse for a nursing job. A cover letter lets you highlight specific skillsets and experiences to your employer and explain exactly how they might be useful to your new nursing position. For instance, if you’ve worked in client-facing occupations previously, the interpersonal skills and client management skills that you’ve developed could come in handy with interacting with patients and their family members as a nurse in your new position.
  • Signal your motivation and ambition and culture fit with the company
    While not every job application will require you to write a cover letter, writing a cover letter will definitely help you stand out from the other job applicants. A job applicant who submits a cover letter even when it is not mandatory will be viewed as more motivated as compared to a job applicant of similar caliber. While it is ultimately your choice and you should also manage your constraints on time, especially while job hunting, adding a cover letter with your job application won’t hurt at all and can only give you the added edge you need to compete against other job applicants. Additionally, HR professionals are always looking to hire people that fit well with the company culture as it has been proven to lead to higher employee retention rates. It is good to highlight why you want to work with this specific company and how your personality and motivations would be a good fit.

Tips on writing a good nurse cover letter

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Here are some tips we’ve specially curated to help you write the best nurse cover letter that you can: 

  • Be specific and concise

A cover letter should generally be short and sweet. Long and rambling introductions do not make for a great first impression. Instead, your cover letter should give a specific and concise introduction to your nursing background and other nursing-related professional experiences.

  • Be descriptive 

While a resume provides succinct summaries of your experiences and skillsets, a cover letter is where you describe them in greater detail and connecting them to the job requirements outlined in the job posting you’ve applied for. For instance, if you have specialised nursing skills gained from a prior professional nursing experience like wound care or dementia care, you should highlight and describe how you developed those skills, the value they provided to your current or prior workplace, and finally how you will translate those skills into value-added contributions to your new workplace for your potential employer. Nursing environments can require very specific skillsets that are hard to come by. Being descriptive can help your potential employer know that you have the right skills and character for the job. 

  • Tailor your cover letter

To really stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your sincere interest in the job, you should always tailor your cover letter to the job you are applying for. Research the organisation you’re interesting in working at and understand their organisational mission and current manpower needs. Use your cover letter to then showcase your grasp of the organisation and also highlight specific professional experiences and skillsets from your resume that help plug the organisation’s most pressing needs at the moment. This will make your cover letter much more compelling than the average applicant.

  • Quantify your contributions

When you’re talking about your past contributions in your prior or current workplace, you should strive to quantify them in tangible terms as much as possible. For example, if you helped to plan new nursing protocols that helped reduce wastage or improved work efficiencies, you should highlight exactly how much wastage was reduced or the ways in which work efficiencies were improved. Take advantage of the regular performance reviews or schedule regular chats with your current supervisor or superior to assess your current value contributions! 

Common mistakes to avoid in your cover letter

As much as there are tips you should follow to write your nursing cover letter, there are also common mistakes that you should avoid.

Here are some of them: 

  • Flowery language & waffling

A cover letter is not an exercise in creative writing or an opportune moment to showcase your extended vocabulary. Be sure to avoid flowery language and waffling so potential employers can easily understand the points you’re trying to make. Adding in unnecessary details or elaboration may only distract from what you’re trying to convey to potential employers. Say only what you need to say; using simple language is most effective in maintaining a coherent narrative and confident voice

  • Grammar & spelling mistakes

Perhaps the most amateur mistake you can make while writing a cover letter is to commit grammar or spelling mistakes. Such mistakes can send the wrong signal to potential employers that you’re tardy or not meticulous, and can even come across as a sign of lacklustre interest in the job you’re applying for. Always remember to check for basic grammar and spelling mistakes in your cover letter before sending it off. Do make use of free spell-check and grammar-check tools on the internet such as Grammarly when crafting your cover letter!

  • Inappropriate tone

A cover letter is also often, the very first professional contact that you will have with your hiring manager and perhaps even your potential direct superior. It is essential that you maintain a professional tone in your cover letter to demonstrate your professionalism and also your serious intent in applying for the job. While you can still write in your own preferred style to retain an authentic voice and personality in your cover letter, it is best to avoid using an overly casual tone as it might be inappropriate. Do your best to leave a good first impression even before meeting for an interview!

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Other tips for a successful nursing job application

Here are also some technical writing tips for a successful nursing job application: 

  • Getting the address and salutation right

To add a personal touch to your cover letter, you should always try to address your cover letter to a specific person. Often, the hiring manager of the organisation you are applying to can be found on their website, LinkedIn, or through a simple call asking for the hiring manager’s contact and email. If you cannot find the hiring manager’s name, it’s best to simply use a generic salutation like “Dear Hiring Manager”.

  • Basic structure and organisation of the cover letter

It’s also important that you should get the basic structure and organisation of the cover letter right. Your cover letter should have the following basic sections:

    • Address and Salutation
    • Opening Paragraph
      • Introduce yourself and explain how you came across the job opening
      • Explain your genuine interest in the position 
      • Briefly summarise the technical and transferable skills that you believe make you suitable for the position
    • Body Paragraph 1
    • Body Paragraph 2
    • Body Paragraph 3
    • Closing Paragraph 
      • Summarise and reiterate how you can contribute to the organisation again
      • Thank the recruiter/hiring manager for their time and state your interest in meeting with them to further discuss your suitability for the role. 
      • Most importantly, remember to leave your contact details like your number and email so they can get in touch with you. 

Your body paragraphs should each discuss a specific technical or transferable skill you’ve developed over past professional experiences and how they fit in with the position you’re applying for.

Other nurse job hunting resources 

If you are interested in getting into nursing, we hope that the tips above will help you write an impressive cover letter such that you can get that first interview. Once you’ve gone through the first step, it would also be useful to know how you can ace your nursing interview and the salary range you can command. Check out other resources below that will help you in your nurse job hunting and interview process:

Top 10 Nursing Interview Questions, Answers and Tips

Salary Guide for Nurses in Singapore [2023]

Pros and Cons of Being a Public Sector Nurse vs Private Nurse in Singapore

Nursing jobs in Singapore 


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About the Writer
L.H. is a writer who guzzles coffee a little too much for his own good.
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