How Nurses Can Make a Powerful Impression With Their Resume

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Guest Blogger: HEALTHeCAREERS.

imageMany new grads and well seasoned nurses have often asked:

“How do I Strengthen my Resume?”

“What can I do to set my resume apart from other nurses?”

“What are hiring managers looking for when they are looking at a nurse resume?”

For most job applications, you will attach a resume to an email or paste it into an online form where it may be an employer’s first impression of you. Here’s how to make that impression as powerful as possible.

1. Make it Easy for the Reader

To maximize any opportunities, you want to have your best and most current resume ready to send. Make it easy for yourself and the employer: use the same contact information that is listed with the State Board. If you need to update the Board, do so.

James Tysinger, Ph.D. of the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio advises “…make sure it’s easy to read and logically organized:” so spelling and neatness count!

If it’s been a while since you’ve created a resume – or you never have, or you want inspiration – look at examples. Plenty are available online and in career guidance books. Look for the most current examples possible: like your wardrobe, your resume format can be either in or out of style.

According to one recruiter, good formatting means using only one, conservative font. And using bullet points can give you the chance to focus on keywords to make your resume more likely to appear in search engines. (

2. Accurate Content

Beginning to end, the most important thing is relevance: what you include should be directly relevant to the position you are applying for. That means if you are looking for more than one type of position, you may need to create alternative resumes in order to highlight the most relevant information.

If you have less experience in the job market, you can emphasis training or other relevant achievements.

3. How to Organize the Content: after your contact information…

Academic medicine positions may require you to provide a curriculum vitae, or CV. This extensive description of your professional and educational accomplishments should include several levels of detail beyond your resume. Most often it will include:

• Education (School Name, School Location, Degree Earned, Graduation Dates)

• Academic Honors/Activities/Leadership Positions

• Research

• Internships/Clinics/Residencies/Fellowships (Employer Name, Employer Location, Specialty Area, Dates)

• Practice Experience (Name of Practice/Hospital, Location, Title, Type of Practice, Brief Description)

• Specialty Area

• Publications

• Presentations

• Professional Memberships

• Licensure/Board Certification

• Other Work Experience (Employer Name, Employer Location, Title, Dates of Employment, Brief Job Description)

• Professional Awards/Honors

• Language Skills

4. Resume Sections: Objective and Summary of Qualifications

If you’re new to the job market, you can set yourself apart from the crowd by creating an employment objective. This may also help you focus on your goals, for example: “Seeking acceptance into a Nurse Practitioner Program with goal of providing rural community service utilizing my extensive primary care background.” (Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing)

If you have more workforce experience, consider writing a summary or mission statement for the top of your resume. For example, if you were seeking a nursing administrative position, your summary might read “Dedicated RN with a broad range of healthcare experience. Caring professional with superior communication and management skills. Master of Science in Nursing. Licensed in this state.”

5. Your Formal Education

Presenting your educational achievements to their best advantage is crucial. Starting with the most recent, list schools you have attended. Highlight any honors or awards. Cite degrees you have earned and call attention to all licenses that are relevant to the position you seek.

6. Licensure

It’s crucial to present information about your certifications and/or licensure as completely and clearly as possible. Always cite the highest level of certification you currently hold, for example:

• LPN / LVN license

• RN license



• NP


7. Clinical Experience

This is perhaps the most important section of your resume. Be thorough when describing clinical and relevant work experience. Be specific about the type of facility (such as acute care, outpatient, rehabilitation) you worked for, your caseload and area of specialization.

If you do not have much experience to flaunt, you should provide details of your unpaid work, clinical rotations, etc.

8. Relevant volunteer work

Medical missions, free clinics – volunteers offer clinical support in many settings. This is definitely relevant to a clinical job, so be sure to include it. Other relevant experience might be non-clinical but demonstrate other desirable skills: a second language or organization skills, for example.

9. Make the Time

If you are serious about finding a job, find the time to keep your resume updated. You can easily edit and maintain it online. It will take more than a great resume to get a job — but you’re not likely to get a job without one.

More information on how to create attention-grabbing nursing resumes is available at HEALTHeCAREERS.

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