Category : Job Applications

Cover Letters and Nurse Practitioners

There seems to be some confusion about cover letters.  I have seen some advice on the big box job sites that is telling job seekers that the advice to include a cover letter may be a thing of the past.  No doubt this will have many of you jumping for joy – I mean, who likes to write a cover letter anyway? 

As always I feel compelled to issue my standard warning: Caution! The majority of advice you will find online is geared towards job seekers in the business community and are therefore may not be applicable to the Nurse Practitioner profession.  
When you read general job advice columns it is important to slow down and read the fine print. First, make sure that you are comparing apples to apples.  What I found is that if you read carefully you will find that the advice refers only to email inquiries and applications.  In other words, you must be emailing an actual person rather than submitting an online application directly into the system.  As most of you already know, that doesn’t happen very often.  Most “apply here” links take you into an automated applicant system and not to an actual HR representative. 
The article makes the assertion that since you are emailing then your email can take the place of the cover letter. Fair enough. I do agree with that point.  Of course, what is not clearly stated is that it is necessary that your email be formatted and written exactly like, well …a cover letter.  So you can see that the reports of the demise of the cover letter are indeed premature and greatly exaggerated. It seems that the point the articles are making is that your cover letter information should be in your email rather than sent as an email attachment.
Here is the NP Career Coach’s advice on covers letters for Advanced Practice or NP jobs. 

 

1.      You still need one.  Cover letters are not mere decoration for your resume.  A cover letter tells the prospective employer you are capable of professional-grade written communication skills and that you possess at least a minimum understanding of the social graces.  Nothing starts you off on the wrong foot with an employer quite like a sending an email that states only “I am interested in your position” or “attached is my resume”.  No greeting, no closing, just bad manners. 

 

2.      Cover letters are a great way to fill in areas that are not always clear on a resume. For example, explaining gaps in employment and articulating your goals and interests. You can also let the employer know whether or not you are interested in any other positions.  Oh, and if you know someone who works there you can (and should) name drop. J

 

3.      Do it all. Attach it, put it in the body of your email too.  Who cares if they receive two copies of the same thing?  It’s just not that big of a deal.  Some prefer to have an attachment and some prefer an email so do both and give them options.  Attachments look better than emails when printed and that can be a plus.  Putting your cover letter in the body of the email will increase the chances it is read upon opening.  But as you all know an inbox can get cluttered and saved emails sometimes get deleted.  Adding an attachment allows the recipient the ability to download and save your cover letter. 

 

4.      One of the most frustrating problems I encountered as a recruiter was receiving hundreds of attachments titled “cover letter” or “resume” which made it very difficult to find a particular candidates file. Problem solved.  You can easily avoid this confusion by naming your attachments with your name rather than “cover letter”.  See how easy that was?  Remember, the idea is to stand out and make your application easier to find.

 

5.      And finally, if you don’t already have one you should create a professional email account with your full name.  Busy recruiters and hiring managers don’t have the time to scroll through an inbox or contact list trying to guess which email is from you.  Using your full name as your email address just makes it that much easier to find you.  It also makes you look more mature than using an email address such as “proudmommy” or “catluvver”.    

Hello! What Does it Take for a New Grad to get Some Attention Around Here?

 

Dear NP Career Coach: 

 

I am a new grad NP and I am in the process of job search. I am struggling to get even an interview. Could you help me with how to market myself so that I can get the recruiters to look at my resume?

 

Dear New Grad NP:    

 

When crafting your new grad resume keep these points in mind.  
  1. Your resume needs to demonstrate that you have the skills the employer wants.
  2. The only thing that matters is what the employer wants. 
  3. As a new graduate the most marketable experience you have is your clinical rotations. 
    To be successful your resume must contain clear and easy to find information.  You can’t get an interview if the recruiter can’t determine whether or not you meet the requirements.   Your resume will have about 30 seconds to catch the eye of the employer, so it’s important to be sure all the info in your resume is easy to find.  The reader shouldn’t have to strain or work hard to figure out who you are. 
    In today’s market employers are expecting to receive a resume that is tailored to the position.  When creating their first NP resume many new graduates get carried away and include too much extraneous information.  Remember, your resume is just a snapshot to show the employer you are a match – not your entire life history.
    First, you must make it clear to the reader that you possess the appropriate educational preparation.  Place your educational section at the top of your resume. Make sure you have included your degree and the dates it was earned (or will be earned).   You can safely omit elements like your GPA, thesis, or doctoral project.   This simply adds clutter to your resume without increasing your marketability.  I know you worked hard for your GPA, but it doesn’t belong on your resume. 
    Second, clearly indicate your certification.  You will be seen as ineligible for the position if information relating to your certification status is missing. Identify the name your certifying body and note either “current” or the expiration date of your board certification. If you have not yet taken boards note “pending” or your scheduled test date.     Also, be sure you list your RN licenses.  This may seem like a no brainer but it is important that your nursing license(s) be on your resume.
    Next is your experience section.   As a new grad your clinical rotations are your most pertinent and relevant experience.  Take a look at the job posting and find the skills the employer has stated are a requirement.  Then make sure you mention those skills in your student experience section.   Avoid statements that reflect minimum entry levels skills.  It’s a waste of space on your resume to say “manage acute and chronic conditions” or “history and physical exam skills”.  That won’t set you apart.  Give the recruiter some real data about procedures, specific conditions and populations.   You should find this data in your clinical logs. 
    Finally, take care not to focus on your RN experience.  Employers like to see that you had RN experience but they are not interested in your RN duties.   A simple entry indicating the department where you worked in will be sufficient.   You are applying for an NP job and you are a new NP graduate, however, you are competing against candidates who have NP experience.   To put it bluntly, what you did as an RN will not trump actual NP experience so it’s best not to waste the resume space because it won’t make you more marketable.  If the employer wants to hear more about your RN jobs they will ask you about them in an interview. 
    Oh, and a nice cover letter will help you get noticed too. 
    I will send you my cover letter and resume guides via email. 
    Good luck and keep me posted on your job search. 
    ~Renee
     

5 Steps for an Effective New Grad NP Job Search

Hello New Grads!

Abe Lincoln once advised “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 7 sharpening my axe”.


Don’t get worried, I don’t actually want you to chop anything down! My point is that I want you to be well prepared before you begin your NP job search.

In my last column for Advance for NPs & PAs I outlined 5 essential steps to include in your job search plan.

In my column you will find advice on

  • Applying too soon (yes, you can apply too soon)
  • Finding and choosing the proper references
  • How to sell yourself and your skills
  • Handling the dreaded “strength and weakness” interview question.

Click here to read more

Pick me! Pick me! How can you get a recruiters attention?

A reader recently asked me why employers choose one nurse pracitioner application over another.

I offered up this advice in my latest blog: Advanceweb.http://community.advanceweb.com/blogs/np_6/archive/2013/02/06/applications-and-interest.aspx

Dear NP Career Coach: What can I do to get employers to notice my application? I would like to know if there is anything you can recommend that will increase my chances of landing an interview. Can you help?

Dear Job Seeker: Obviously it is important that your resume show the employer that you possess the right qualification and skills for the job. However, you also need to convince them that you have a genuine interest and a strong desire for the position.

Employers tell me that if you are able to clearly articulate the reason you are applying for the position then they will be more likely to want to interview you. So how do you demonstrate to a potential employer you have a passion for their position? I have a couple tips to help you.

  1. Research the employer. Learning about their culture, mission and history is one way to show an employer you are interested in them. The information you gather will help you to emphasize why you are the right fit for them. And if you get a call or an interview it will also help you to formulate the right questions to ask. Start by checking out their website or Facebook page.
  2. Make clear the reason WHY you want this position and make sure that your reason makes sense. The best tool for you to express your motivating reason is the cover letter. Use your cover letter to explain why you feel drawn to the position. Perhaps you have previously worked with this population or specialty before. Or maybe your reason is that you did a clinical rotation in their organization. If you know someone who is a current employee who has inspired you to apply that is perfectly good reason as well. (Name dropping is allowed!) Just remember that whatever your rationale, it needs to be employer-centered and show clear benefit to the employer. For example, proclaiming that you want the job because the hours or commute better suits your lifestyle is not helpful.
  3. Don’t “over-apply” or be a “serial applier.” When employers see you submitting several applications for several different positions it makes you look like you either don’t know what you want to do or that you are desperate. Neither of those options is very attractive. Think carefully before applying; if you aren’t sure why you want the job, then you are unlikely to convince anyone else why you would want it either.

Returning to the Workforce

Dear Career Coach: I am a NP seeking to return to the workforce after a 10 year employment gap. I have experience as an adult nurse practitioner Occupational Health, Cardio-thoracic, Primary Care, and Student Health. I recently completed 150 CEU’s including 75 in pharmacy and passed the certification test for Adult NP in preparation for my NP job search.
Should I include this information in my resume and cover letter? How do I handle the lapse in my professional career? I have 3 kids and we moved several times. I was active with volunteer activities and held several leadership positions. Do employers really want to see this information in my resume?

Dear Reader: This information needs to be included in both your resume and your cover letter. I suggest you start your resume off with a “Summary of Qualifications” section, this will allow you to highlight your qualifications and future plans.

EXAMPLE:
“A nurse practitioner with a wide variety of experience with an emphasis in (list your specialties) Recently completed a total of 150 CEU’s including 75 in pharmacology and have used this knowledge to successfully pass the certification test for Adult Nurse Practitioner. Passionate to resume hands on patient care. Possess the energy and flexibility of a new graduate plus a wealth of past knowledge which will benefit both my patients and my future employer.”

Next on your resume list your experience starting first with your recent CEU’s that are pertinent to the job you are seeking. Highlight your proficiencies for each past job and communicate that you are still comfortable with those skills.

You also MUST write a cover letter. You can use your cover letter to discuss your passion for the position, highlight your proficiencies and emphasize the knowledge you recently acquired in your CEU courses. It’s also a good idea to mention your desire for a long-term employer. In the last paragraph, before your closing, you can then disclose and explain your employment gap.

Remember always to edit and tailor your resume and cover letter to match each and every position you apply for!

Good luck!

Tips you will get only from me!

Do you know what hiring managers and recruiters NEVER want to see on your Nurse Practitioner resume?

I was a recruiter for many years so I have some insider pearls and tips. These are valuable details I learned over the course of reviewing thousands of resumes and talking with hundreds of hiring managers.

In this market, when every job has dozens of applicants, even a small mistake can ruin your chances of an interview. Of course you probably will never know why your resume was rejected so you might continue to make the same mistake. In my blog I am going to regularly share with you some of some of these lesser known resume misteps.

In other words I will share my job search pearls with you!

Here comes the tip…

There are several things you should never put on your resume but this is one that might not be so obvious.

DO NOT INCLUDE NON-MEDICAL EXPERIENCE
IN YOUR WORK HISTORY!

Including a past job that was in a non-medical field is a major no-no and could very well get your application bounced. It’s OK to include jobs like “nursing assistant” or “lab tech” because those are medically related. What you don’t want to list is jobs like ” bartender” or “retail clerk”. You many think they help to show that you have a solid work history but in reality it’s a big turn-off when applying for an NP or PA position.

BTW: This is true whether you are a NP or Physician Assistant.