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How to Make Your Nursing Resume Stand Out

Consider this: employers often receive hundreds of resumes for a single vacant position. With online job boards now also advertising for these employers, sometimes the number of applicants is even higher.

When it comes to landing the job of your dreams, the first impression truly is everything. Human resource professionals base this first impression on a single piece of paper — your resume.

A resume is a marketing tool that sells a product — you! As a nursing graduate or a nursing professional, how will you use your resume to set yourself apart from the sea of other applicants?

Tips for Writing A Nursing Resume That Stands Out

There are a myriad of things to consider when creating your nursing resume. Unfortunately, your experience alone isn't always enough to get your resume noticed. The layout, format, design elements, and other key sections need to be just right so you can stand out above the rest.

Keywords

Human resource agents know what they are looking for in a resume. Many have now turned to automated databases that scan each resume received for keywords that fit the particular job description. These automated systems are known as Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) and have the ability to search resumes for keywords or even disqualify a candidate if their resume doesn't include a requirement.

Make sure that your nursing resume contains specific keywords related to the job or position you are applying for. What qualifications or skills do you possess that are required by this position? Be sure to include those.

Layout

Reverse Chronological Order — Make it easier for HR professionals or nursing supervisors to read through your resume by adding experience in reverse chronological order, meaning most recent experience or position held first. This will show the extent of your work history in an easy-to-follow format. While there are other types of layouts, we recommend this for a majority of nurses because of the emphasis it puts on relevant work experience.

Objective Statement — An objective statement also known as a resume objective is a header at the beginning of the resume that is meant to grab your reader's attention and let them know your professional goals. If you are entering a new career or have little experience, this statement will assist in setting you apart.

Answer the question, "what do you want?" Steer away from generic objective statements like "A position that will allow me to broaden my horizon and serve my community." Get to the root of your career goals and state it. Perhaps you are interested in "An RN position in a pediatric critical care unit." This is a solid objective statement because it clearly states what you want and what you can do.

Qualifications Summary — This section is optional, but still useful because it condenses all of your relevant experience and skills into a smaller, easier-to-read section. The purpose of this summary is to invite the reader to proceed to the rest of your resume. Use this section to provide an overview abilities and skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. For a school-based nursing position, something like "extensive experience with children and adolescents as a school nurse in a public school district" is appropriate.

Format

Traditionally, it's recommended to keep your resume to one page, however, a two-page resume is acceptable. Only include recent and relevant experience if you find that including miscellaneous information is overextending your resume. If you need more than a page to include your relevant work experience and qualifications, go ahead and use a second page, but remember to include your name and contact information there as well. Don't sweat it if your resume is 3 or more pages, especially if you have a wide array of relevant experience that will help you land the job.

When looking at the design, the important thing to remember is your resume should be visibly appealing at a glance and easy to read. This means you should choose an appropriate and professional font like Times New Roman, Garamond, or Calibri. Your text descriptions can be as small as 10 point, but don't go any lower. Your name should be the biggest thing on the page since you are what is being sold. Lastly, make sure your resume has at least .6" to 1" margins. This gives your resume white space and room to breathe.

Nursing Resume Templates

If you're having any trouble writing, designing and laying out things yourself, you can find hundreds of different resume templates online. It's nice to use a resume template because it will make your information clear and concise. However, you should always try to tailor your nursing resume to the particular nursing position you are applying for. Again, use keywords and terminology that are specific to your experience and that will relate to the position at hand.

What to Include in Your Nursing Resume

A person sitting at a table using a computer

When writing your resume, it is important that you tailor it to the specific position you are applying for. While you may have a plethora of work experience in a variety of different fields, it is important to include only the information that is relevant to the job you are trying to acquire. Work experience, however, isn't the only information you should provide on your nursing resume. Other sections you should put on your resume include:

  • Education and Training
  • Employment Dates
  • Unit-Specific Information
  • Relevant Skills
  • Contact Information
  • Nursing Credentials
  • State Designations
  • Licensure
  • Certifications
  • Awards
  • Affiliations

Remember that only when you have a clear understanding of your career goals can you write a resume that truly represents your skills and qualifications as positively as possible. So before even beginning to write your resume, consider taking a few minutes and figuring out a career plan and your desired outcomes.

The right connection can make all the difference.