Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Resume Writing For Nurses 4465

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Resume Writing For Nurses


It’s always a smart idea to have a strong, updated resume. But “updated” doesn’t only mean having your latest credentials and work history in a formatted template. It also means abiding by the tried-and-true best practices every nursing resume should follow.

Selena Gilles, DNP, ANP-BC, CNEcl, FNYAM, associate dean of the undergraduate program at the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, has seen countless nursing resumes and worked with many recruiters. If there’s one person in the industry who knows the do’s and don’ts of the common nursing resume, it’s her.

“You should write your nursing resume in a way that conveys who you are,” says Gilles. “The trick is to do this while also making it relevant to the job you’re applying for.”

What Makes a Strong Nursing Resume?
No matter the occupation, a good resume stands out to recruiters in a few ways:
  • It paints a picture of who you are as a nurse in a clear way.
  • It includes the relevant information a recruiter is looking for to match the specific job you’re applying for.
  • It’s formatted in a symmetric, organized, easily digestible way.

Nursing resumes are unique, and there are certain items a recruiter must see to know you’re qualified for the job. Gilles says the must-have items for a nursing resume include:
  • Credentials: One of the first items a nursing recruiter looks for is your credentials, so don’t forget to put them toward the top of the resume. Place them near your name and contact information and make sure to format them correctly. Gilles says that a quick scan of your credentials is one of the fastest ways recruiters qualify candidates for the job.
  • Clinical experience: Whether you’re a new nurse or one with years of experience, you’ll want to get specific with your clinical experience. What units have you worked on in the past? If you’re applying for an advanced career, such as a nurse practitioner (NP) position, include a brief list of your clinical rotations.
  • Certifications: Not all certifications result in credentials, so make sure to include a list of any certifications you’ve earned. And if they did result in a credential that you’ve already included at the top of the resume, it’s still a good idea to describe the certification in more detail.
  • Education: Recruiters want to quickly see where applicants went to school and earned their nursing degrees.  If you’re a newer nurse, it doesn’t hurt to also include your GPA and any honors you earned, like making the dean’s list.
  • Past work experience: This section is a key area to show recruiters your level of expertise through previous employment. Gilles suggests that nurses list these in reverse-chronological order, starting with your most recent job and working your way back.
  • Special skills: Do you speak multiple languages? Do you have experience working with a specific electronic medical record system? Include these types of skills on your resume, as they can help you stand out from other job applicants.
  • Classes and volunteer work: If you’ve gone above and beyond in ways that enhance your skills, showcase it on your resume. Don’t be afraid to list out volunteer work and classes you’ve taken, even if they’re not directly related to nursing. These items help showcase you as a well-rounded individual.

Tips for Strengthening Your Nursing Resume
Resume writing for nurses isn’t only about following the basics. It’s also about using best practices to make your resume stand out from the crowd. After all, many recruiters browse through dozens of applicants for one job posting. How can you make them do a double take when they get to yours?

You might feel tempted to jazz up your resume with your picture, fancy fonts, or bright colored text. Avoid this, says Gilles. Instead, stick to the tried-and-true methods that recruiters value.

“One of my biggest pet peeves is asymmetric formatting,” says Gilles. “Make sure you keep your format and layout consistent throughout. For example, if the first work experience on your resume has a 3-item bulleted list, make sure all the other work experiences use the same number of bullets.”

You should also:
  • Ditch the summary at the top of the resume: It’s unnecessary and takes up valuable real estate on the page.
  • List items in reverse-chronological order: The most recent should always come first in a list.
  • Keep it clean: Make your resume easy to read. Often that comes down to a simple, straight-forward format.
  • Avoid including your full address: Providing your city and state is sufficient.
  • Stay away from first person: Avoid using I, me, or any personal pronouns. Instead, stick with third person.

Common Resume Writing Pitfalls to Avoid
Gilles has seen many nursing resumes, which means she’s also seen common mistakes you can easily avoid. If you’re going up against tons of other job applicants, making one mistake means there’s a good chance your resume will go in the trash.

“It sounds obvious, but some people forget to include contact information in an easy-to-find place,” says Gilles. “Your phone number and email address are some of the most important items a recruiter looks for, and if they can’t find them quickly, they’ll move on.”

Other common mistakes include:
  • Spelling or grammatical errors: Catch them by having at least one other person, like a mentor or colleague, review and edit your resume. Gilles recommends a review from someone who’s also a nurse.
  • Submitting the same, generic resume to every job posting: Tailor it to each unique job you’re applying for. Gilles recommends having a generic resume on hand, then adjusting it for each specific job.
  • Use the job description to tailor your resume: Fill your resume with applicable skills, keywords, and qualities that match the position. This is important because many companies use software to scan the resume for matching keywords before passing it on to a recruiter.

“If your resume doesn’t match the job you’re applying for, there’s a good chance a human will never even see it,” says Gilles.

Your Nursing Resume = Your Story
When applying for a job in health care, let your resume paint the picture of who you are as a nurse. What do you bring to the table? While a cover letter showcases your personality and references bring validation, your resume sells your expertise, education, and skills. Don’t be afraid to include anything that makes you a better nurse AND a better person. You are unique — let your resume show recruiters exactly how.

What’s your best piece of advice for crafting a stellar nursing resume? Share with us in our discussion.


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Blog Quality of Life 05/23/2023 3:26pm CDT

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