When you’re a nurse looking for a job, there are many tactics and strategies for targeting the nursing positions you’re excited and intrigued about. You search job boards, network with people in the know, float your resume, and otherwise get the word out that you’re a nurse on the move.

Keywords matter for job search successMany coaching clients who come to me want help, and some of them aren’t sure how to tweak their resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles for the jobs they want. Here are some tactics that focus on the power of words; keywords, that is.

Sponsored by American Sentinel UniversityLet’s say your a nurse looking at position postings, and you’re having a hard time figuring out what’s most important for you to highlight in your cover letter and resume prior to submitting an application. Here’s your homework/fieldwork:

  1. Print the ad for the position.
  2. Grab your highlighter.
  3. Highlight the words and key phrases in the job description that you think communicate what’s most important to the people doing the hiring.
  4. Use that list to tweak your resume and cover letter towards what they’re apparently looking for.


Example job ad:

Seeking savvy Bachelor’s-prepared Registered Nurse Case Manager with at least two years of experience in Medicare-based home health. Ideal applicant is able to practice autonomously, and is flexible, honest, and personally accountable.

Must be a quick learner in terms of the use of our proprietary EMR, and be highly competent in the use of tablets, smart phones, and mobile technology for in-the-field documentation and communication. Knowledge of Google Drive, Slack, and project management platforms a plus.

Excellent phlebotomy skills are a must, as is experience with central line maintenance, including porta-caths and PICC lines.

We promote a positive, open, and friendly organizational culture, and we welcome employees who seek to be integral members of a highly functional, collaborative team.

The ideal candidate for this position has significant home health experience (including Medicare, OASIS C-1 and ICD-10), highly developed computer and tech skills, excellent communication skills, an open-minded and creative spirit, the ability to think outside of the box, and a team-oriented personality.

I’ve bolded the terms that stand out to me in this ad. This employer obviously wants someone with tech skills, and someone who is creative, open, and flexible. They seem very keen on someone with Medicare experience, as well as specific clinical skills.

Replying powerfully to this position entails making sure that your cover letter elucidates the ways that you meet at least some of the requirements; and if you’re savvy, you’ll use the employer’s language—or similar language—back at them. If you’re weak in some of these areas, you’ll focus on your strengths and why you’re still a strong candidate.

In order to learn more about the company, you can study their website, focusing on the following:

  • About page
  • Services
  • Mission statement
  • Vision statement
  • Awards and recognition
  • Public plans for new initiatives or projects
  • Community involvement
  • Etc

By learning about a facility or company’s mission, vision, services, awards, and other aspects, you can pepper your cover letter with phrases or words that will emphasize your understanding of, and alignment with, the organization. You can also spell out your support or excitement regarding some aspect of the organization or the work it does in the world.

You can also Google the organization, read news stories, watch videos, and read reviews and testimonials in search of more salient data.

On LinkedIn, you can search for current and former employees of the organization, including C-level executives and leaders. The company’s social media presence may also give you fodder for your application and networking (try Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for starters).

Words are powerful, and you can make strategic use of them in your cover letters and resumes, your LinkedIn profile, in job interviews, and in your networking efforts. In this job market, you need to stand out; use your words as powerful tools to accomplish just that.


American Sentinel UniversityThis episode of The Nurse Keith Show is sponsored by the good folks at American Sentinel University. As a fully accredited online university, American Sentinel offers a variety of courses related to healthcare and nursing, including RN to BSN, and five MSN programs: Informatics, Case Management, Nursing Education, Nursing Management, and Infection Prevention and Control. They offer an RN to BSN/MSN, a program, as well as two tracks for those wishing to pursue a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. American Sentinel also offers a certificate in Prevention and Control that assists clinicians in acquiring the knowledge they need to develop best practices for infection prevention and control. Please visit AmericanSentinel.edu/NurseKeith for more information.


The Nurse Keith Show is adroitly edited and produced by Tim Hallowell of The PodcastingGuy.com; social media and promotion are expertly handled by Mark Capispisan.

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Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.

Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.

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