Did You Know? The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of registered nurses to increase 15% from 2016 to 2026.iWhile that’s above average, the BLS expects nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners to increase 31% for the same time frame.ii In fact, two of the five fastest growing careers that require a graduate degreeare nursing careers.Click to Tweet!
Nursing Resume BasicsWhen learning how to write a nursing resume, you must keep in mind four key areas that must be covered when writing your nursing resume.
- Locations you’ve worked
- Where you studied and degrees earned
- Your clinical rotations and how many hours you worked in each
- Your placements in school
#1: Contact InformationYour nursing resume should have all of your contact information front and center. After all, you want your potential employer to be able to easily contact you. Some essential contact information includes:
- Phone number
- LinkedIn profile URL
- Other social media accounts
- Personal blog or website
#2: Objective or Summary: Which Is Best?A nursing resume objective is an opening statement that usually starts with the fact that you want to secure a job. Including one on a nursing resume was standard practice for a number of years, but this has recently changed. This is because your objective is fairly obvious—you’re looking for a job—and because they take up valuable space that could be used to distinguish yourself. Instead, summaries are growing increasingly popular. A summary is an overview of who you are and the skills you bring to the table. They give you a chance to show your personality a bit more and imbed relevant keywords. As recruiters take an average of six seconds per resume, summaries allow them to scan your experience and skills to see if they should continue reading.
Tips on how to write a nursing resume: Remember, keywords are not buzzwords! Saying that you apply synergistic synergy means nothing to a hiring manager. Try to include keywords that relate to your position and skills. Examples include:Click to Tweet!
Of course, the specific keywords you choose will depend on your education, experience, and the role you are applying for, such as gerontology, ICU, or psychiatric nursing positions.
- Patient assessment
- Specialized knowledge
#3: Relevant Nursing and Clinical ExperienceWhen you’re writing your nursing resume as an entry-level nurse, your experience may only include clinicals and internships you completed while pursuing your degree. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to actively pursue these opportunities while in school. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced nurse, you may have a number of positions to add, with a variety of responsibilities. Regardless, you should still add your clinical experience to show some of the specific areas you have worked in. This is especially important if you’ve earned an advanced nursing degree and have clinicals outside your specialty, as this will show your range.
#4: Other Employment ExperienceTypically, other experience applies more to entry-level nursing resumes because you’ll want to show potential employers that you have practice working with a team. As the sample further down the page shows, this experience can be anything from your summer waitressing job to working at the admissions office at your college.
#5: Key Skills SummaryThis section should further expand upon the skills stated in your summary. For example, if you are pursuing a job in gerontology, you may focus on skills such as pain management, psychiatric experience, and cardiovascular rehabilitation. If you’re a student looking for your first nursing job, you may be applying to a wide range of positions. In this case you may want different resumes for each. One of the best ways to learn how to write a nursing resume is to create a few and tailor each resume and set of skills to the role you’re applying for.
#6: Education, Licenses, and CertificationsWhen applying for a nursing job, one of the most important things is to show that you have the education, as well as the necessary certifications and licenses, for the position. Depending on your state, the position you’re applying for, and your experience, the requirements will vary. For entry-level positions, you can always flush out your nursing resume with details about specific courses you may have taken. Remember, you’re trying to set yourself apart from the other candidates, so anything that helps you do that should be added.
#7: Professional AffiliationsJoining professional organizations could be a great way to keep up with industry standards, trends, and best practices. Plus, it might be a perfect opportunity to network with others in your field. List any and all affiliations relevant to healthcare, and especially to the position you’re applying for. If you’re not yet a member of any, check out the recommendations further down this page and consider joining.
#8: Volunteer WorkOne of the key skills of being a nurse is having a service orientation. In simple terms, that means you are actively looking for ways to help others.iii As a nurse, your education and experience means you could help a variety of charities and nonprofits, but that doesn’t mean you have to volunteer strictly in your field. Other opportunities could range from serving at the local soup kitchen to working at fundraising events. You want to have at least a few volunteering experiences listed to show that your passion for helping others extends beyond paid opportunities. Some charitable organizations that are great for volunteer nurses are listed at the end of this page.
#9: Awards, Honors, or AchievementsDon’t hide your achievements! Make sure to list all awards and honors that are relevant. You should also share some details about who gives the award or what you did to earn it. For experienced nurses, this can go higher on your resume, even directly under your summary. That way, the recruiter or hiring manager will be enticed to continue reading. Entry-level nurses may not have as many professional accomplishments, so the section can be lower on the page. But be sure to mention awards you won in school, such as graduating with honors, top of your class, or anything else that can set you apart.
Frequent Nursing Resume ErrorsUnfortunately, many candidates make simple, avoidable mistakes on their resume that can automatically have them rejected for a position. Recruiters, hiring managers, and HR personnel are looking for reasons to narrow the pool of applicants and resumes. Simple errors are an easy way to do that. That’s why one of the most important aspects of learning how to write a nursing resume is to identify common mistakes. These include:
- Irrelevant information, such as hobbies
- Poor job descriptions
- Lacking a cover letter when available
- Using an unprofessional email address (i.e. beachbum91 AT gmail.com)
- References or the line “References Upon Request”
- Adding salary desired or current salary
- Adding personal information
How to Find the Right “Language” for Your Nursing ResumeYour resume is how you market yourself to hiring managers, which is why clear, specific, and quantifiable language is important to distinguish you from other applicants. Vague language, such as “assesses level of pain and pain management for patients” or “exercised professional skills related to the plan of care”, doesn’t effectively show hiring managers what separates you from other candidates. Instead, show your experience in quantifiable language by answering the question, “How many?”. This gives your potential employer a better sense of your past job responsibilities and your skillset. For example:
- Performed lifesaving interventions as part of multidisciplinary team in high-volume Emergency Department with 50 beds.
- Supervised 2 LPNs and 5 CNAs each shift, managed schedule, directed duties, and mentored to improve overall care.
Entry-Level Nursing Resume SamplesHow to write a nursing resume for an entry-level position is slightly different than others due of your lack of professional experience. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any experience. You just have to show how your background outside of nursing can help you in the field. Entry-level nursing positions could include certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), or others. These might be good ways to gain experience while you pursue certification as a registered nurse (RN) or even an advanced nursing degree.
Resume Writing Tip: For entry-level nursing resumes you should list past work experience unrelated to nursing. However, show some of the soft skills you may have acquired that can apply to a nursing career, such as critical thinking, conflict resolution, or teamwork. You can also add a list of relevant courses that are focused on specific parts or expectations of a role. This is why it’s beneficial to have more than one resume.Click to Tweet! Source: monster.com/career-advice/article/sample-resume-nursing-assistant
Registered Nurse Resume SampleWhen writing a resume for an RN position, especially for a entry level rn resume, make sure to include your clinical rotations and nurse practicum. Also, include how many hours you completed and in what departments to show your various experiences. The RN resume sample below demonstrates how to write a nursing resume that lists rotations and practicums. Source: monster.com/career-advice/article/sample-resume-for-an-entry-level-rn
How to Write a Nursing Resume with an Advanced DegreeIf you have an advanced nursing degree, you’ll want to highlight your additional certifications, education, and experience. These will probably include leadership or mentor roles, as well as additional responsibilities. Source: recentresumes.com/2016-nurse-practitioner-sample-resume
How to Write a Nursing Resume: Tips for Formatting Your ResumeAfter making sure you have all of the necessary information, you need to check that your resume is formatted properly. When first learning how to write a nursing resume its important to keep formatting in mind:
- 1” margins
- 12-point font
- Plain font, such as Times New Roman or similar
- No special formatting
- Your name centered on top of page
- Important information capitalized and highlighted in bold
- Consistency in formatting
- No more than two pages
- Name and page number on second page (if applicable)
Improving Your Nursing ResumeYour resume is a living, breathing document and should continuously be updated. For instance, some nursing career coaches recommend that you update your resume every time you set the clocks forward or back for daylight savings. But if you haven’t done anything to improve your nursing resume, then you won’t have much to update. Therefore, you should always be considering ways to gain valuable experience or education to progress your career.
Pursue an Advanced DegreeOne great way to improve your resume is to earn more experience and training by furthering your education. Each of the advanced nursing degrees below might help you specialize your knowledge, gain new credentials and study the latest best practices.
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Nursing Specialties Graduate Programs
- Nurse Practitioner
- Graduate Certificates in Nursing
Join Professional OrganizationsJoining a professional organization shows your willingness to keep up with industry trends and best practices, and that you have a desire to meet others in your field. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of nursing organizations available for you to join. These range widely in size and scope. You might consider national or international groups with local chapters, specialty or focused groups for different nursing careers, or regional organizations. Examples include:
- National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
- Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN)
- American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE)
- American Medical Association (AMA)
- National Practitioner Associates for Continuing Education (NPACE)
Enhancing Your Nursing Resume with Volunteer OpportunitiesAs a nurse, there are plenty of opportunities for you to volunteer and use your skills to gain valuable experience outside of your day-to-day responsibilities. This also shows that you’re concern for others extends beyond simply earning a paycheck. Some charitable organizations you might volunteer with include:
- The American Red Cross
- RN Rescue Network
- Medical Reserve Corps
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
How to Write a Nursing Resume: Putting Theory to PracticeNursing is a complicated and constantly changing field, especially now as technology continues to play more of a role in day-to-day operations. That means employers, hiring managers, and recruiters increasingly value experience and education. This makes learning how to write a nursing resume even more critical to learn. Showing skills and experience in a clear, concise, and easy to review manner is one of the most important aspects of how to write a nursing resume. Also be sure to double and triple check for simple mistakes, such as misspellings or grammar, to make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. Then learn more about graduate degrees in nursing, specialties you’re interested in, and when various programs start by clicking on any of the sponsored listings on this page. After all, one great way to improve your resume and boost your career in nursing besides learning how to write a nursing resume is by earning an advanced degree!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-6 [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6 [iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1171.00
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