How to Create a New Graduate Nurse Resume & Cover Letter

12 Min Read Published April 26, 2023
New graduate nurse resume

By the time you graduate nursing school, you may be an expert in cath placement, starting IVs, and dropping those nursing diagnoses, but you might not be an expert in the one act you’ll need to ace right after graduation: getting your first nursing job
It might be easy to think that your application process for your first nursing job will be similar to that stressful practicum exam (why is it so much harder to put on sterile gloves in front of other people?!), but to apply for a nursing job, you’ll need to create an effective new graduate nursing resume and cover letter. 
Of course, it can be a little more challenging to create a resume if you’re a new grad without any official nursing experience, but don’t worry—most hospitals not only expect that, but welcome new grads, and are specifically recruiting new grad nurses. So, here’s how to craft the perfect new grad nursing resume and cover letter, with examples to help you land that dream job. 

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>> Find Nursing Jobs Hiring Now on the Job Board

Nursing Resume vs Cover Letter

First things first: let’s discuss the differences between a nursing cover letter and a resume. A cover letter is a personal letter that you will include either in an email or with the application. The cover letter directly addresses the employer states your interest in the job, and lists a few personal reasons why you’re right for the job. There will be more on crafting a cover letter below. 

A resume, on the other hand, is your professional portfolio that lists your education, experience, skills, and certifications. You can think of the cover letter as the personal touch and the resume as the highlight reel. 

How to Write a New Grad Nurse Resume

There are two basic ways to create a nursing resume

  1. Craft your own version
  2. Use a premade template 

For instance, many document editing software systems, such as Word, have built-in templates that can be adapted for your own individual use. 

In general, no matter if you craft your own resume or use a premade template, a new grad nursing resume will include 5 basic elements:

1. Your Personal Information

This section will include all of your personal information, such as your name, title, phone number, address, and email. Include a personal email address instead of a school-associated one. Eventually, your school email may be disabled and you will want HR to be able to contact you. Some people will also opt to include a small, work-appropriate headshot (no selfies!) as well.

2. Skills

A resume should highlight specific skills that you possess that can translate into your nursing career. For instance, skills such as working with a team, critical thinking, communication, and time management are all valuable for nurses.

3. Certifications

In this section, you should list any certifications you have already obtained, such as your CPR, ALS, or any other advanced certification you have earned. If you have passed your NCLEX, list your RN credentials as well.

4. Licenses

If you have not passed your NCLEX or have not taken it yet, you can write, “Eligible for NCLEX test for RN on X date,” so that the employer knows when you will be taking the NCLEX. 

Employing hospitals are understanding of the fact that there can be a delay between graduation and getting a date for your NCLEX test, so it’s okay to apply before you have taken your NCLEX test. 

Just be aware that if you are hired, there will be some limitations to your work until you officially become an RN.

5. Education

Under the education section of your resume, you will list any institutions for higher education that you attended. 

It’s optional if you want to include your high school, but considering you’re graduating from a nursing program, it’s not necessary. 

You can include details if you attended a college in the beginning of your education, then transferred. You’ll also include your GPA, any honors you received during your education, and your major and minor.

6. Relevant Experience

Because you most likely don’t have a lot of official nursing experience, this is the section to really highlight what kind of experience you do have that is relevant to the job. 

Of course, you’ll want to include any experience you have—both paid and volunteer—in the medical field. Maybe you’ve volunteered at a nursing home, have piloted community events, or have been working as a CNA. Whatever it is, highlight it!

If you made it through nursing school without any official healthcare work or volunteer roles, that’s okay too. You can translate many skills from different jobs, such as communication, teamwork, and time management with customer service or retail roles. 

>> Find Nursing Jobs Hiring Now on the Job Board

New Grad Nursing Resume Tips

It might feel challenging to create your first nursing resume, but here are some tips to help you along the way:

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Let Your Personality Shine

A new grad resume will be a pretty standard document and you should always keep it professional, but don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your resume too. 

You can add personal touches, such as design elements, including color, or a personal photo, as well as highlight the skills and experiences and even goals for your future career.

2. Have Friends and Family Review the Resume

It’s time to bring in the village! Gather a few people you trust who can review the resume for you and make sure it’s typo-free and shines a spotlight on your best qualities.

3. Be Sure to Read the Job Description

If you are applying for a specific position or nurse residency program, be sure to carefully read the entire job description and posting so you know what they are looking for. 

If they have outlined specific skills or traits, include those in your resume. If they state that they are looking for someone who has graduated from a local school, highlight that on your resume. If they want someone who is willing to train in new areas, be sure to let them know that that’s you! 

Not only does referencing the job posting in your resume show them that you have done your research and really are the right person for the job, but it can also help ensure your resume gets past any resume-scanning software that the facility may be using.

4. Ask for Help

If you need assistance in crafting your resume, there are resources that can help. 

Firstly, you could consider asking your nursing school or professors for help. They should be able to point you to resources or help you directly. 

Next, a friend may be a good resource—they could have a template you could build off, or offer advice for creating your own resume. 

Lastly, there are professional resume services that you can hire for complete help with your resume. There are perfectly valid reasons why someone might need professional help for a resume, and there’s no shame in that.

5. Include Letters of Recommendation

Some places of employment may require references or letters of recommendation, but even if they do not, it’s a good idea to include references and letters of recommendation, if possible.

 A good place to start is to ask your professors, clinical educators, or current managers.

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online programs are designed to help you achieve more in your nursing practice with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They offer convenient, flexible options for completing your RN to BSN or BSN online, both designed to fit into your busy schedule.
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Arizona State University - Online

When you earn an ASU nursing degree, you are gaining skills from a respected and accredited institution. Our online nursing degrees are accredited by the Arizona State Board of Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

New Grad Nursing Resume Example


Address · Phone

Email · LinkedIn Profile · Twitter/Blog/Portfolio

To replace this text with your own, just click it and start typing. Briefly state your career objective, or summarize what makes you stand out. Use language from the job description as keywords.




Describe your responsibilities and achievements in terms of impact and results. Use examples, but keep it short.



You can include volunteer and clinical experience.




It’s okay to brag about your GPA, awards, and honors. Feel free to summarize your coursework too.



If you haven’t passed your NCLEX yet, include the date you will be eligible to take it.


·  List your strengths relevant to the role you’re applying for

·  List one of your strengths

·  List one of your strengths

·  List one of your strengths

·  List one of your strengths


Use this section to highlight your relevant passions, activities, and how they relate to nursing. It’s good to include Leadership and volunteer experiences here. Or show off important extras like publications, certifications, languages and more.

Bonus! New Grad Nursing Resume Templates You Can Use

Get Your Free New Nurse Resume Template for Nurses Without Healthcare Experience!

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Cover Letters for New Grad Nurses

You’ve got your resume looking great, now it’s time for the dreaded new grad nurse cover letter. Never fear! We have the tips to help you shine on your cover letter.

Do You Need a Cover Letter When Applying to Jobs as a New Grad Nurse?

In most situations, you do need a cover letter when applying for nursing positions.

What Should You Include in a Cover Letter as a New Grad Nurse?

A new nurse grad’s cover letter should include your personal and contact information, like your name, address, phone number, and email, and a personal statement to the employer that you are applying for a job at. 

This is your opportunity to speak personally to the employer, highlight why you want to work for them, and how your skills, experience, and passions match with the job assignment.

How is a New Grad Nurse Cover Letter Unique From Other Cover Letters?

A new grad nurse’s cover letter should focus on your strengths and how those strengths can be an asset to the organization, as well as your future career goals and how taking this position will help you fulfill those goals. 

For instance, if you hope to gain experience in working in an ICU position, speak directly to that goal. 

>> Find Nursing Jobs Hiring Now on the Job Board

New Grad Nurse Cover Letter Example

Your name
Phone number, email

To Whom It May Concern:

I am interested in applying for a position at This Medical Center. I am a recent graduate of Your School, where I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. I will be eligible to sit for my NCLEX on THIS DATE and I am eager to utilize my knowledge and grow in experience by becoming a team member with This Medical Center.

During the course of my education, I INSERT PERSONAL DETAILS OR STORY ABOUT WHY YOU WANT THIS JOB OR YOUR OWN SKILLS. I am confident that my clinical experience in combination with my motivation, determination and strong critical thinking skills will enable me to excel in any clinical setting. 

As a long-time member of this community and someone who has had family members who have been patients at This Medical Center, it is extremely important to me to embody the goal of this organization by serving the community with caring, compassion and competence.

It is my sincere hope that I may become a vital member of the healthcare team at this
organization. I aspire to grow on a professional level working with other team members, as well as personally, learning from each and every patient I will care for. I am confident that This Medical Center is an excellent choice for meeting these goals. 

Thank you in advance for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Your name, G.N. (graduate nurse)

Get Your Free Nurse Cover Letter Template!

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  • How long should a new grad nurse's resume be?

    • Ideally, a new grad’s resume should be no longer than one page.
  • Do you need to include a summary in your nursing resume?

    • You do not need to include a summary in your nursing resume, but a few short sentences can highlight your experience up to now, as well as your goals in the job you are applying for. Here’s more on how to write an effective summary.
  • How can nurses improve new grad resumes?

    • As a new grad, you can improve your resume by ensuring it aligns with the job position you’re applying for (for instance, include that any skills you have match what they’re looking for!), having trusted people review it for you, and if needed, hire professional help.
  • How do you write a nursing resume with no experience?

    • If you have no official nursing experience, highlight relevant skills, education, and experiences that could directly translate into a role as a nurse. For instance, many jobs and volunteer roles have relevant skills such as communicating, working as part of a team, and time management.
  • Should I put GPA on a nursing resume?

    • If you are a new grad, it can be helpful to put your GPA on a nursing resume, especially if you have not yet taken your NCLEX. Once you have earned your RN, however, a GPA is not necessary. You can include any academic honors, such as summa cum laude. 
Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie Brusie Contributor

Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in critical care, long-term care, and labor and delivery. Her work has appeared everywhere from Glamor to The New York Times to The Washington Post. Chaunie lives with her husband and five kids in the middle of a hay field in Michigan and you can find more of her work here

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