NP Career Blog

Nurse Practitioner Job News & Advice

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

New Grad Class of 2013 – this blog is for YOU

Graduation is exciting but also a little stressful. New grads (or maybe I should call them “soon-to-be-grads”) spend almost as much of their last semester worrying about getting their first job as they do studying.

Well, I personally have never seen any value to worry. It’s far better to spend your time preparing instead of worrying.  And luckily for new grads there is some good advice out there.

Advance for NPs and PAs puts out a great “Guide for NP & PA New Grads” every year and it is chock full of both practical and valuable advice.

This year 2013 the guide has gone digital and you will find 4 extremely helpful articles.

The first (which just happens to be written by me!) is Salary Tips for the New Grad.  I discuss realistic salary expectations as well as the proper time to negotiate.  You might be surprised at what I have to say.  Read more

There is also a nice article on Building a Better Resume. This piece includes some nice tips on social media, keywords and paper resumes.  As your trusted NP Career Coach I can say without reservation that the advice is spot on and will help you be more successful in landing that job interview.

Speaking of interviews, did you know that the new trend is to do your interview via Skype?  Check out the handy tips in Get Psyched to Skype.  You will be glad you did.

And finally, read Networking Know-How and find out how to make the most out of your networking.

Access the entire guide HERE 

 

HAPPY GRADUATION CLASS OF 2013!

 

3 Essential Components of a Successful Nurse Practitioner Resume

Tuesday Tip:

I have preached this for years.  Call it a resume trifecta, the holy trinity or the triple play but every (and I mean EVERY) NP resume must contain these 3 critical pieces of information.  If employers do not find this information – and find it quickly – your resume will never make it past the first round.

It’s a simple formula really

1. Your education
2. Your certification
3. Your skills

Create your resume around these elements. Remember, we review your resume in less than 15 seconds so you must make these 3 bits of data the centerpiece of your resume. Skip the fancy formatting, long winded “objective” statements and just focus on ensuring that this information as easy for us to find as possible.

What to know what to include under each of these 3 headings?
Read my latest blog here

NP Career Coach interviewed for Contraceptive Technology Updates

Most people think of January as the season for snow and winter activities, but for your NP Career Coach it’s season of the annual Salary Survey.

And with the salary survey comes interviews…

Recently I was interviewed by Contraceptive Technology Updates and asked for my thoughts on how to be best prepared in the event budget cuts result in a decrease in your work hours or find you out looking for a new NP job.

In the article I discuss the value of having a “master resume” ready to go, the importance of flexibility in this market and whether it can benefit you to consider signing on with a recruiter.

Family Planning Salaries Hold Fast – Where will 2012 take Employment Levels?

Click here to read the entire interview which begins on page 13.