Whether you are considering nursing school, are currently in nursing school, or are a recent graduate, one fact remains: You need to know how to craft a compelling resume to stand out and land a job in the field. A polished resume can make a significant difference in your ability to land the position that you want.
Not sure where to begin when it comes to writing a resume for a nurse job? There are a few tips and best practices to keep in mind that will help you on your way to an eye-catching and impressive resume.
Importance of a Well-Crafted Nursing Resume
First, understand the importance and objective of nurse resume writing. No matter how well you did in your nursing program or how much experience you already have under your belt, no hiring manager or recruiter is going to know what your qualifications are without a resume to look at. Your resume serves as an opportunity to showcase your achievements, experience, and formal education so potential employers can better understand what you bring to the table.
What Is the Purpose of a Nursing Resume?
If you look at a job description for a nursing position, it is almost guaranteed that you will be asked to submit a resume as part of your application. So, what exactly is the purpose of a nursing resume, anyway?
Highlight Relevant Skills, Qualifications, and Experience
Whether you have clinical rotations or other experience under your belt, a potential employer will want to know. The same applies to any special skills or qualifications that you may have to offer. A resume is a great place to highlight these achievements in one place.
Showcase Passion for Nursing and Commitment to Patient Care
A well-crafted resume with lots of experience and education can also demonstrate an applicant‘s commitment to patient care. Regardless of the position for which you are applying, many employers are going to want to see a commitment to patient care demonstrated on your resume.
Stand Out Among Other Nursing Applicants
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about a nursing resume is that it is generally the first impression you get to make on a potential employer. However, it is also likely that the hiring manager is reviewing dozens of resumes and applications for the same position. By crafting a resume that stands out from the rest, you can set yourself apart from your competition and stand a better chance of landing the job.
Nursing Resume Structure and Format
The exact structure of your resume can vary based on the job for which you are applying and your own personal preference. However, any nursing resume should have the following components.
Submit your resume as either a PDF or Word Document to ensure the applicant tracking system (ATS) your potential employer is using will be able to properly read it. To that same end, stick to common, straightforward headings (summary, work experience, etc.) and eliminate any fancy tables or graphs, as the ATS may struggle to read information that is in image format.
The design of your resume will include its color scheme, your choice of font, and other aesthetic choices that you make. If you are unsure where to begin, consider downloading a free resume template that will help you achieve a polished look without too much additional effort. Simplicity is essential for modern job applications, as human eyes may never even see your resume if the ATS cannot understand what you have provided. You are not applying for a graphic designer role, so do not overthink the design elements.
A resume’s organization refers to how it is laid out on the page. Generally, this will include your name and contact information (including phone number and email address) at the top, followed by a summary or objective statement. From there, you will also want sections dedicated to your work experience, education, skills, and certifications. It is generally best to list work experience in reverse chronological order. For educational experience, your highest level of education achieved should be listed first.
Readability and Consistency
Make sure that your resume follows a consistent format and flow that makes it easy for potential employers to read (and skim, if needed). If using bullet points, be sure that you are following a parallel structure. Finally, make sure you are consistent throughout your resume, cover letter, and any other application materials that may accompany them. For example, if you changed your name, verify that you have updated it everywhere.
How to Write a Compelling Summary or Objective Statement
If you plan to include an objective statement or summary in your resume, make sure it is an effective one. Otherwise, you may be better off using the space for something else.
Capture Attention With a Strong Opening Statement
In general, a summary or opening statement should be no more than a couple of sentences long—so you will need to be succinct and to the point. Focus on highlighting what makes you the best candidate for the job, using keywords that will capture the hiring manager‘s (and the ATS’s) attention.
Highlight Strengths, Accomplishments, and Aspirations
This is also a good place to highlight your specific strengths, accomplishments, and goals as they relate to your nursing career. Be sure to use positive and focused language here while avoiding any passive voice that could convey a lack of confidence to your recruiter.
Tailor to a Specific Nursing Role
Your summary or opening statement should not be a “one-size-fits-all” text. Instead, it should be uniquely crafted and rewritten for each job that you apply for. Tailoring your summary to a specific job allows you to highlight which skills and qualifications you possess that will make you an excellent fit for the open position.
Tips to Tailor Your Resume for the Nursing Field
Whether you have an existing resume from another industry or are starting completely from scratch, you will want to completely customize your resume for the nursing field. There are a few things to keep in mind as you get started here.
Highlight Relevant Certifications, Specializations, and Areas of Expertise
Make sure that you are highlighting all certifications, specializations, and other credentials relevant to the nursing field and to the specific nursing job for which you are applying. For example, when looking at your resume, a hiring manager should immediately be able to tell whether you are an RN, LPN, or NP. If you are certified in CPR, be sure to include this as well.
Showcase Your Clinical Experience
If you have any clinical experience under your belt, be sure to include this in your resume. Clinical experience should be listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experience at the top. If possible, connect the roles and responsibilities you performed in your clinical experience with the duties that you will perform in your new role.
Emphasize Transferable Skills
As much as you want to (and should) highlight your relevant nursing experience and qualifications, you also will not want to overlook soft skills that are transferable between industries and roles. Employers will be looking for candidates who not only have the technical qualifications to succeed, but other nursing skills for resume building, like:
- The ability to work well with others in a team setting
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Excellent interpersonal skills and communication
Emphasize Nursing Experience and Achievements
Even if you are not the type of person who enjoys talking about yourself or bragging about your achievements, this is precisely what a resume is for. Use your resume to showcase your previous experience in the nursing field, as well as any notable achievements you have made along the way.
Highlight Relevant Work
If you have worked as a nurse in the past (or are currently working as a nurse), include this in your employment section. Each role should be listed in reverse chronological order. If you have a lot of nursing experience, however, you may want to select only the most relevant roles to include on your resume (for the sake of saving space).
Use Bullet Points
For each nursing role that you include on your resume, you should use bullet points to go into further detail about what you did in each role and which responsibilities you took on. Bullet points will make it easier for hiring managers to skim your resume to get the information they need while not tripping up the ATS.
Whenever possible, quantify your achievements with a solid number or data point. For example, you might include the specific number of patients that you served in a previous role. You might also include the percentage of internal benchmarks you achieved or even the number of direct reports you have managed in a leadership role.
Demonstrate Your Abilities
Your resume is also an opportunity for you to demonstrate your abilities when it comes to leadership, problem-solving, and quality improvement initiatives. For example, if you worked on a project to improve patient outcomes or took on a leadership role in your previous work, you should highlight these achievements and abilities in your experience section.
Highlight Education, Professional Development, and Accolades
Your formal education and professional development achievements should also be covered in your resume. Before you start writing, keep a few tips and best practices in mind.
List Educational Degrees, Certifications, and Licenses
Any educational degrees should be listed in reverse chronological order on your resume. This means that your most recent degree (or one that is in-progress) should be listed at the top. If you earned any formal certifications or licenses (such as a practical nurse license or registered nurse licensure), list them in this section of your resume.
Include Relevant Coursework, Rotations, and Research
In some cases, you may be able to highlight specific courses, research, or other educational experience that relates to the job for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for a nursing position at a children’s hospital, you may want to include a clinical rotation that you completed in a pediatric office. If you are applying for a supervisory position, then be sure to list any courses on management or leadership that you took during your time in school.
Highlight Ongoing Professional Development
Nurses never stop learning, so it is important to include any professional development or continuing education that you have completed (or are in the process of completing). This will demonstrate that you have gone above and beyond to keep yourself educated and informed as a nurse, which will help to set you apart from your competition.
List Awards and Professional Affiliations
Your resume is not the place to be shy about any awards or other recognition that you have received. Even if it is something as simple as making your school’s dean’s list, you will want to include anything that may help your resume stand out. If you are a member of any professional organizations (such as the American Nurses Association or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners), you will want to include this on your resume as well.
Emphasize Relevant Skills and Competencies
Ultimately, your resume should be as tailored as possible to the job for which you are applying. Some tips to keep in mind in this regard include:
- Match essential nursing skills to specific job requirements. This means reviewing the description of the job and specifically connecting your own nursing skills and experiences to those duties and responsibilities.
- Showcase your technical skills, including proficiency in handling electronic medical records, experience with specialized medical equipment, and anything in between.
- Highlight any soft skills that may be relevant to the job. Some to consider include interpersonal and written communication, empathy, and cultural competency.
- Incorporate language proficiency or other relevant abilities. If you speak more than one language fluently, this can be a selling point for employers.
Other Nursing Resume Tips
Even once you think your resume is done and ready to be submitted with your application, there are a few things you should do before you send it off.
Proofread and Edit Multiple Times
First, take the time to thoroughly proofread and edit your resume before it is finalized. Do not rely on built-in spell-checking software alone to catch all your errors. Consider reading your resume to yourself out loud to catch any awkward phrasing or other mistakes that you may have missed.
Seek Feedback From Peers
Ask a trusted friend or classmate to review your resume. Ideally, this will be someone with healthcare experience. You can get some great suggestions from your fellow nurses—and they can often catch small mistakes that you may not have seen during your own proofreading process.
Include a Cover Letter
If you are taking the time to craft a great resume, you might as well write a tailored cover letter as well. Yes, this will take some additional time and effort on your part, but it could pay off. Not all applicants submit cover letters these days, but the ones who do could stand out from the ones who do not. Make sure that your cover letter effectively summarizes your resume and the skills and experiences that would make you an excellent candidate for the job. Ensure that your cover letter uses the same fonts and follows the same general design as your resume for the sake of consistency.
Create a Professional Online Presence
These days, more employers are screening job applicants online than ever before. Take some time to look yourself up online and be aware of any social media posts or other aspects of your online presence that may portray you in a negative light to a potential employer. If you do not already have a professional website, LinkedIn page, or both, consider setting one up before you begin sending out applications.
Prepare for Your Nursing Career
Writing a superb nursing resume will take some time and care, especially if you are custom-tailoring each iteration of your resume to a specific job posting. Still, with these tips in mind, your resume will be more likely to catch the eye of a hiring manager.
Looking to bolster your nursing resume and build your qualifications for your nursing career? Post University’s American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Sciences may have the accredited online nursing programs to suit your needs. Request more information or start your application today!
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