Creating the perfect registered nurse resume can be a challenge, especially for graduate nurses. It is difficult to make your stand out in the crowd if you have had little to no healthcare experience. However, you can get creative and in the process become more confident with the skills and expertise you do possess while highlighting them in a manner that will increase your likelihood of landing the job.
The nursing profession offers a solid, steady career path. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing jobs are expected to grow at a “faster than average” rate and the number of retiring nurses will create a shortage in coming years. Even with these circumstances, this is not the time to sit back and take it easy when applying for a nursing job. Your resume is your first impression on a future employer, and there’s no better way to initially showcase your achievements and professionalism.
So what does a shining resume look like?
Here are a few proven pointers to set you on the path to nursing resume success:
Open with a Narrative
A narrative is a clearly written statement that summarizes skills you will bring to the position you are applying for. Make sure to discuss your goals, specialty areas, experience level and any advanced credentials or training you hold. Your resume is not the place to be humble, but also make sure you don’t exaggerate.
Present Your Qualifications and Expertise
Paint a picture of your strengths, and try to use action verbs when describing them. For example, instead of saying “Knowledge of chemotherapy mixing and administration,” say, “Actively managed cancer patients, including mixing and administering chemotherapy drugs according to hospital policies and safety standards.” This statement still shows that you know how to mix and administer drugs, but it sounds more active and more professional. If you don’t have a long history in nursing, make sure to focus on any volunteer or clinical experiences.
Proofread for Errors
While it may seem basic, be sure to re-read your resume to make sure it is clear, concise and typo-free. Check for spelling, grammatical and formatting errors; even a basic error will skew your professional edge with an employer and show that your attention to detail may not be as keen as you claim. Consider enlisting the help of a friend, family member or career counselor for a second opinion when you are finished. If you are just graduating, your school’s career center will typically offer resume services for free, so make sure to check in with them.
Highlight Your Nursing Experience if You are Returning to the Field
If you have been out of the nursing profession for a while, divide your resume’s work experience section into two parts: Nursing Experience and Additional Work History, or something similar. Make sure to place your nursing experience first and highlight your specialty areas, credentials and years of experience, but be sure to also include any other tangentially relevant jobs in the second section. At the very least, do not let long periods of time go unaccounted for.
Showcase Your Top Performances
Employers care about the image you will present of their company. If you have been recognized for outstanding performance, been part of policy or patient care committee,s or have helped develop standards for better care, you should highlight those standout experiences. Discuss your role in the process, any collaboration with administrators and positive results of the changes if possible, and always attempt to use quantifiable measures wherever possible, such as how many patients you routinely cared for or the number of nurses you managed.
A perfect nursing resume is one that allows you to showcase who you are while spotlighting your passion for the nursing profession. Use your resume as an opportunity to present your most professional image, and remember that it is a reflection of who you are to an employer.
Get Your Resume Professional Reviewed
Sometimes having an extra set of eyes can help you feel more confident with your resume. Even if you’re an excellent writer and are confident with what’s on your resume, it may be a good idea to have your resume professionally reviewed. A review is particularly helpful if you are climbing the ladder or changing focuses. I did this myself when I transitioned from a clinical role to a more technical and leadership based role. It was money well spent. Many individuals and companies provide this service. One company that offers some free resume critiques is Resume Writer Direct. Check them out and get your free resume critique.
Review Example Nurse Resumes
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Crafting your resume from scratch can be overwhelming and there is no shame in looking and other resumes to get inspiration for formatting, language, and key areas that you should include.
Here are some great resources for example registered nurse resumes:
Great Resume Templates
About the Author
Erica Moss is the community manager for Georgetown University’s online masters of nursing programs. She enjoys blogging, photography, TV and pop culture.