Whether you’re a nurse fresh out of nursing school on the hunt for your first job or a seasoned nurse who’s looking for a change of environment or a step up on the career ladder; the nursing resume you submit for a job matters, immensely.

A Good Resume is a Door to an Interview for a Nursing Job

For positions that have a high number of applications, resumes act as a screening tool for potential employers to whittle down the talent pool. No employer has the time or the desire to interview 100 nurses for a job. It’s more practical for them to interview 10-20. That resume is how they decide to put you in the “to be interviewed” pile as opposed to the “file for later” pile.

If you’re uncomfortable with writing your professional resume, don’t worry! It’s normal to struggle a bit with self-promotion, especially if you can’t do it in person, but have to write it all down on a piece of paper. Here, we’ve compiled a list of tips for writing and perfecting your resume. Adopt all of them, or some of them, the choice is yours.

Be Confident with Your Resume by Following these Tips

1. Write a short summary at the beginning of your resume underneath your name. Your summary should explain your professional qualifications specific to the job you are applying for. These sentences should be clear, and concise. Sometimes this is the only part of a resume the employer reads, so pack it with the pertinent information. Avoid flowery, lengthy descriptions.

2.  Font type, color, and size is important. Pick one font type and stick with it throughout the resume. You want your resume to be easy to read for employers, no squinting required. Times New Roman or Arial font types are considered preferable choices for nursing resumes and should be the color black. Your headings should be smaller than your name at the top, but still draw attention. For this reason, you should choose a font size of 12-14 point for your headings. Descriptions and qualifications should be no smaller than 10 point but probably safer at 11 point. Steer clear of italics, underlines, or any shading or graphics. These flashy ideas that may work for resumes in other industries are unnecessary and unwanted in the nursing profession.

3. Tailor your wording to the job you are applying for. Some employers have a database or software that they use to screen resumes for qualifications. Read through the position description carefully and be sure you include words on your resume that refer to the required qualifications and preferred qualifications. For example; the position description states a required qualification of BLS/CPR training and ACLS certified. Provided you have BLS/CPR training and ACLS certification, you should be sure to include them on your resume. While most nursing acronyms will be familiar to potential employers, there is no guarantee that a screening software is. It’s a good idea to write out the words of an acronym for this reason.

4. Describe yourself with strong verbs and nouns. Instead of using the verb “help” use “assist” or instead of “make decisions” use “is decisive”. Instead of “kept patient room clean” use “maintain cleanliness”. Follow this link for a list of action verbs to help.

5.  Applicable experience counts. For you seasoned nurses, list your work experience in chronological order starting with your most recent position and then work backward. For new nursing grads without a work history, input the clinical rotations that apply best to the position you are applying for. Resist any compulsion you may have about exaggerating your experience to make your resume appear longer or fuller. There is no shame in being a new nurse, our profession needs you after all! Moreover, some employers are looking specifically for new grads. One thing you can be sure employers don’t want is a nurse who embellishes.

6. Avoid the temptation to include work experience outside the field of nursing. For new nurses, in addition to including the clinical rotations that are relevant to the position, you can also add any of your voluntary work in the field. For any non-paid experience, you won’t include it under the “work experience” heading, but under a heading titled “professional experience”.

7. Your writing style should be unvaried. If you have a few sentences in first person but then switch to third person in your summary it confuses the reader and can be a mark against professionalism on your resume. When using a bulleted list to describe your qualifications or characteristics, each bullet point should follow the same pattern. For example:

  • Decisive
  • Communication
  • Works well with others

That bullet list is varied in pattern and doesn’t flow well. Instead try:

  • Decisive
  • Communicative
  • Cooperative

Another note along these lines; the bullet points should be standard black bullets. Don’t get fluffy or fancy with stylized bullet points.

8. Keep the tone professional and in third person. A good tip for this is to have someone else review your resume before you submit it. A perspective of someone who hasn’t experienced what they are reading will be able to find sentences that may sound too personable. Not to mention, the added bonus that a reviewer could catch grammar and spelling issues. It’s also important to note that your email address provided on your resume needs to sound professional. Don’t use “[email protected]” as a way to be contacted, register for an email that includes your name and doesn’t have comical or flowery adjectives.

9. New nurses, you can include club memberships on your resume, but only if they are applicable to the position. For example; if you’re applying for a position in a long-term care facility, your club membership to the Society of Pediatric Nurses does not apply.

10. Keep it to just one page. New nursing graduates, this shouldn’t be a problem, but for experienced nurses this might be more of a challenge. Experienced nurses can go to two pages, but definitely not more than that.

11. The standard phrase “references available upon request” is unnecessary. Every employer knows that when they want to review references for a candidate they need only ask.

Upload Your Nursing Resume to the NursaTM Digital Portfolio

Once you’ve created a clear and confident resume, upload it to your digital portfolio in the NursaTM app. Browse our job postings and find PRN shifts, part-time jobs, and full-time employment with NursaTM.

Written by Miranda Booher

Miranda is a 13-year registered nurse with a healthy background in travel nursing and healthcare marketing. She brings an interesting combination of stellar copywriting skills and first-hand nursing experience to the table. Miranda understands the industry and has an impeccable ability to write about it. And speaking of travel - Miranda currently lives in Uruguay, though she maintains an active Registered Nurse license in the state of Ohio and stays current on the latest healthcare news through her writing. When she is not creating killer copy, or serving others through her work as a nurse, you can find her hanging out on the beach with her devoted husband, three beautiful kids, and their beautiful German Shepherd.

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