The Ultimate Guide to Nursing Resumes in 2021


    GUIDE
    January 2, 2021
    Person working on their resume on laptop

     This guide was updated by Amanda Guarniere, MSN, NP-C in June 2021. Amanda is an Ivy-league educated nurse practitioner and career mentor who helps nurses find and land their dream jobs. She founded The Résumé Rx in 2018 to help nurses with career and résumé strategy  Learn more about Amanda and her products at www.theresumerx.com and follow her on Instagram @theresumerx.

    With the growing competition for the best nursing jobs, a vague, uninspiring RN resume just won't cut it. The opportunities are vast, employers have diverse needs, and every nurse is unique.

    In this ever-changing world of online applications and robotic resume readers, writing a strong nursing resume that portrays your skills and accomplishments in an impressive way can be a daunting task.

    Find Nursing Programs

     

    YouTube Video

    Part One Define Your Brand 

    Defining your personal brand as a nurse to make your resume stand out

    Think of your job search as your own personal marketing campaign. And the product is you! Your resume is essentially an advertisement for your brand. A brand is not simply a logo. It’s the overall impression you give your audience. In this case, your audience is the potential employer.

    As with any advertisement, the goal of your resume is to pique your audience’s interest. Your RN resume does not get you the job. It gets you an interview. Being invited for an interview is a great sign, as it means you’ve made a good first impression on paper. It’s then up to you to close the deal by impressing them in person, as well. 

    Just as an advertisement has only a few seconds to capture the attention of an audience, your resume also has limited time to express your value to the reader. It’s commonly said that hiring managers will spend less than ten seconds reading your resume. And in many cases, it has to first be screened by a resume-reading robot before it even gets into the hands of a human (more on this in Part 3.)

    Show Me RN-to-BSN Programs

    Part Two Do Your Research 

    The first and most important step in any marketing campaign is the research phase. Learn about your audience, which in this case is your potential employer. Take some time to answer the following questions:

    • Who are they?
    • What is their company culture?
    • What do they struggle with as an organization?
    • What qualities are they looking for in a potential candidate? And which of those qualities do you possess?

    The internet has made it fairly easy to hop online and start your research right now from your mobile device. Instead of simply reading a job posting take a few extra steps to:

    • Check out their website - what does their mission statement say?
    • See what they tweet about
    • What photos are they posting on Instagram?
    • What articles do they share on Facebook? 
    • Who do you know on LinkedIn who works there?
    • How are they rated on Google? 

    Social platforms will give you an inside glimpse at their culture and values. 

    START WITH A MASTER RESUME

    A good place to start, especially if you’ve never written a resume before, is by putting together a “master resume.” This will not be what you send to job applications, but will serve as a starting point that you can edit and personalize during the application process. 

    The reason for starting with a  foundational nurse resume is so that you can then alter it slightly for each role you apply to. No need to reinvent the wheel but, never submit a ‘cookie-cutter’ resume to every position. Dale Carnegie once said that, “A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Personalizing your resume matters, with both how you mention and address the future employer and how to include your specific qualifications that match what they are looking for.

    Taking a few moments to target your resume could lead you to the interview of your dreams. And not targeting it could lead you on the fast-track to nowhere.  

    REQUIRED VS. PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS

    When reading job postings you’ll likely come across the terms ‘Required Qualifications’ and ‘Preferred Qualifications.’ Understanding the difference between these two is key. 

    Required qualifications. These are just what they say - requirements. Those who do not possess these qualifications will not be considered. 

    Preferred qualifications. These are the skills that are desired but are not deal-breakers for the employer. You may still be considered even if you do not possess these. If you don’t have all the qualifications listed, don’t sweat it, you could still apply and be considered for the role.  

    Show Me RN-to-BSN Programs



    Part Three Navigate Online Applications

    The job application process has come a long way in the past 10-20 years. If your first resume was more than 15 years ago, you likely printed it on off-white linen paper and delivered it door-to-door to prospective employers. 

    If it was created less than 10 years ago, you have likely struggled to even find the name or phone number of anyone to speak with individually, and even if you tried the strategy above, you were likely told to apply online. 

    As you may realize, the internet has totally transformed the hiring process and affected the entire labor market in a very short time. 

    And as technology continues to advance, it continues to affect the hiring process. The truth is, if you are applying online and hitting a “submit” button, chances are your resumes are prescreened and selected by robots that have been programmed to forward only the most qualified candidates to a decision maker.   

    WHAT IS A RESUME-READING ROBOT?

    The resume-reading robot is actually a program known as Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). 

    How to get around resume reading robots for nursing jobs

    It is highly technical and individualized, but not nearly as smart as a human. It does what it has been programmed to do. 

    An employer may enter in specific keywords for the ATS to scan for. They may choose to enter  “knockout questions” to quickly eliminate unqualified candidates. Such as, “Do you have an active Washington State Nursing License?” 

    They could even choose to include “disqualifying statements” to automatically screen candidates out. For example, if an ATS is programmed to screen out all resumes lacking a Bachelor’s Degree, anyone with an Associate’s Degree will automatically be rejected. If you have both, consider listing only your BSN.

    Recruiters may also configure the ATS to deliver only resumes that include exact keywords.

    HOW DOES ATS WORK?

    Not all ATS systems are created equally. They vary greatly in their functionality and behavior. For example, some ATS systems will not be able to differentiate between titles, such as Clinical Nurse II and Registered Nurse.  

    Other ATS systems may not be able to distinguish between the terms BLS and Basic Life Support. 

    Bottom line, read the job description and use the exact wording for the qualifications requested that you possess. If you use acronyms and abbreviations, make sure to spell out the entire word followed by the shortened version - it would be disappointing to have all the requested qualifications but be filtered out by the ATS because you used only the acronyms, when the robot was programmed for the full phrases spelled out

    While ATS has streamlined the hiring process for employers, it’s also made job search extremely challenging for the job seeker. In fact, 94% of hiring professionals say that ATS has positively influenced their hiring goals, while 80% of job seekers say that their online job search is stressful.1

    WHAT ARE THE SHORTCOMINGS OF ATS?

    The problem is that ATS does not ‘read’ a resume as a human would - it simply collects data. It doesn’t care about aesthetics either. It is programmed by an employer to search for the right keywords, in the right order, on the right part of the resume.

    Most ATS systems are programmed to score resumes according to keywords. However, they can be configured to search and score resumes based on various other criteria.  

    Also, the system can get confused pretty easily. For example, if the font is too fancy or if it encounters unrecognizable symbols, it may score the resume as ‘unqualified’ and moves on to the next resume. It does what it is configured to do, nothing more and nothing less.

    DOES EVERY EMPLYER USE ATS?

    While many employers use ATS, there are definitely employers who still rely on human resource professionals to screen resumes. In those instances, a human resources professional usually skims the resumes and invites the most qualified candidates in for an interview.

    The problem here is that most employers will receive hundreds of resumes for a single opening. To get through the resumes quickly, the HR professional may resort to a simple scan of the resumes knowing that even qualified applicants may not make it. It’s simply a way to reduce the number of applicants.

    In either case, the goal of the modern resume is to ‘sell’ yourself in an organized, targeted manner for a specific role. The best way to design an effective, attention-grabbing resume is by making strong assertions in the beginning followed by supporting evidence.

    It is good to note that in recent years, some employers have started to use artificial intelligence in a different way - during the interview process. Rather than having strict filters for their resume ATS, they are offering more candidates the opportunity to interview, but there is a catch. The interviews are one-way interviews, meaning there is only a computer asking the questions and no one watching you. In these one-way, or “on-demand” interviews, you essentially get the opportunity to record your video response to interview questions, and the hiring managers or recruiters review the video responses before choosing the candidates to interview more formally. 

    Show Me RN-to-BSN Programs

    HOW DO I GET PAST THE ATS?

    DO THIS:

    •  
    • Target your resume to the specific position. Do this by reading job descriptions and selecting keywords noted in the descriptions - competencies, skills sets, education, experience. 
    • Match individual experiences to keywords/key skill sets found within the job posting. 
    • Research the employer and target the resume based on the facility values and culture. 
    • Make strong assertions within the top ⅓ of the resume.
    • Follow those assertions with supporting evidence.
    • Include a “Professional Summary” if you are an experienced Nurse. (More on this below)
    • Only apply to roles that you match 100% of the “Required Qualifications.”
    • Use simple fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri, never smaller than 10 point font. See Part 5 for more styling suggestions. 
    • Use simple black bullet (dots) points not special bullet symbols.
    • Save your resume as a .doc, .docx or .pdf format
    • If using an abbreviation, always spell out the words followed by the abbreviation or acronym. You never know how the abbreviation was entered into the ATS. 
    • Use standard, simple section headers such as, “Work History” or “Education.” List specific skills, including: 
    • Settings you’ve worked in 
    • Patient demographics
    • Policies/procedures
    • EMR/EHR used
    • Medications administered
    • Equipment used

    DO NOT:

    • Don’t use the same title as at your current employer if it is different from the title in the job description. Use the title in the job description. 
    • Don’t overload your resume with keywords. Use them appropriately. Overuse of keywords will flag a resume and could cause the ATS to lower your score. Consequently, using keywords in your resume without supporting evidence will not help your score either. 
    • Do not put your contact information in the header section because ATS will not see it. See part 6.
    • Do not include tables because most ATS can’t read them. Other ATS can only read them if their operator programmed them to do so. 
    • Do not use creative section headers such, as “Where I’ve Worked” because the ATS likely doesn’t understand what that means.
    • Don’t include a headshot, graphics, special fonts, photos, colored fonts or unique bullets. 
    • Do not state, “references available upon request.” It takes up too much space and is unnecessary. If employers want references, they’ll ask. 
    • Don’t place skills at the bottom of the resume. Many ATS systems only scan the top ⅓ of the resume for keywords. If you have important keywords at the bottom it may not see them and could disqualify your resume. 
    • Don’t use “I” statements; resumes should be written in third person. 
    • Do not rely on a resume builder software. Stay in control of your registered nurse resume.

    HOW TO SPOT AN ATS

    If you’ve ever visited a job posting and seen an “APPLY NOW” button, you’ve encountered the elusive resume-reading bot. ATS requires candidates to enter data on the front end. 

    Maybe you’ve gone through the steps to create a login, complete the application and upload your resume. Perhaps you didn’t realize at the time that you were entering your information into an applicant tracking system.  

    Raise your hand if you never heard back from an employer after applying online? Raise your other hand if you received an automated response, “thanking” you for your interest and never heard back!

    Now, keep in mind that it can be difficult to stand out when you are applying for a job online, especially when there is an ATS involved. As you consider your overall job search strategy, try to think of other ways that can increase your chances of getting a job. Don’t be afraid to ask your network connections for referrals and recommendations, or let friends and family know what type of position you are looking for, and where. While your resume is absolutely important, it isn’t the only tool that can lead to you getting a job.

    Show Me RN-to-BSN Programs

    Part Four Choose A Nurse Resume Format

    Prior to ever typing words onto your resume, it’s important to first decide on a resume format. There are three types of resume layouts. While we highly recommend the reverse-chronological layout for most nursing professionals, we’d encourage you to make the best choice for yourself.

    Here’s a breakdown of the three most popular types of resume layouts: 

    1. REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL

    This layout focuses on career history and lists jobs in reverse chronological order. We recommend this type for the majority of healthcare professionals and will focus details of this article on the format. It is best suited for:

    • New nursing graduates
    • Nurses with fewer than 5 roles within the past 5-7 years. 
    • Travel Nurses with <10 completed assignments
    • Nurses with experience in only 1-2 specialties
    • Nurses applying for a similar role
    • Nurses wanting to show vertical career progression 

    2. FUNCTIONAL

    This layout places the emphasis on skills and deemphasizes work history. However, it does not pass the ATS test well and hiring managers overall do not prefer it. We recommend against this layout for the majority of nursing professionals. Typically, people who use this format are: 

    • Changing careers
    • Have large gaps in employment
    • Do have years of experience in the role in which they are applying

     

    3. COMBINATION

    This layout is a mixture of the reverse chronological and the functional resume. While it places emphasis on skill sets, abilities, and accomplishments, it also highlights applicable work history. We recommend this type for nursing professionals with the following background, goals, and barriers: 

    • Nurses with experience in multiple specialties and/or medical professions
    • Seasoned travel nurses with >10 completed assignments
    • Nurses with multiple small gaps in employment
    • Nurses looking to change specialties
    • Nurses interested in changing careers

    Part Five Use the Right Formatting and Design

    As mentioned, modern resumes need to be formatted to pass an ATS. This includes designing it in a comprehensive way that will not confuse the ATS. We recommend the following design and formatting features: 

    MARGINS

    We recommend the top margin to be set at 1”, side margins set to .63”. Many experts believe this strikes the perfect balance of text to white space. 

    ALIGNMENT

    Left alignment is standard since that’s how most people (and robots) read. You may think a justified alignment looks tidier, but it can leave uneven gaps between words and ultimately make text harder to read. 

    LENGTH

    In the nursing profession, length should not be the focus of the resume. While we recommend 1-2 pages, some nurses may have resumes with 3 (or more) pages. Don’t stress over it too much. If the resume is slightly over the page amount by a few lines try changing the margin, font style, font size or shortening statements. Bottom line is, it should look visually appealing and should include keywords. 

    FONT STYLE

    We recommend Times New Roman or Arial to best utilize the functionality of the ATS. However, this is your personal preference. Take note that Times New Roman can be difficult to read if it is smaller than 11pt. If you are striving for a resume that looks visually appealing when printed, there are great ways to achieve that without going overboard with design. 

    For example, you could use the “small caps” feature for headings, which keeps the font the same but adds a bit more character and differentiation. Or, you could try a font pairing, such as Times New Roman or Baskerville for headings (serif fonts) and Calibri or Arial for the body (sans serif fonts).An important note: different font styles will take up different amounts of space, even when set to the same size. Notice how the two following statements look vastly different with different font style (both at 11pt): 

    Experienced Travel Nurse with 8 years experience in critical care nursing.

    vs.

    Experienced Travel Nurse with 8 years experience in critical care nursing. 

    FONT SIZES

    Throughout the resume, there should be different sized fonts. We recommend the following for each section: 

    Text Type Font Size
    Name 18 - 22 point
    Contact Info 10-11 point
    Section Headers 12-14 point
    Descriptions 10-11 point

    It’s important to note that 10 point font should be the smallest size on the resume. 

    Font Color

    While some ATS systems claim to read colors, we encourage you to simply use black. 

    Special Characters

    We recommend keeping the resume very simple. Basic bullet points (black dot) may be used when desired. Simple lines are acceptable as well. 

    Design Features Not to Use

    The following design features are best left off the resume: 

    • Clip Art
    • Photos
    • Multiple font styles
    • Special characters

    Show Me RN-to-BSN Programs

    Part Six Detailed Section Breakdown

    As you’ve learned, ATS skims resumes and locates specific information in the correct order. We’d suggest using the following categories and section headers to optimize your resume for ATS scoring. 

    CONTACT INFORMATION

    This is the first section on the resume and does not require a title. Your name should be front and center. Don’t make the recruiter search for it. Make sure it’s the largest font on the page. While there are varying opinions on the exact placement of the name, we recommend a simple classic version in the following format: 

    Name: We suggest setting your name to a size 18-22 font, the name should also be bolded. If you go by a different name make sure to list both names on the resume. 

    Nursing Credentials: The preferred order is: Highest degree earned, Licensure,, National Certification. More on this below.

    City/State: We advise omitting the street address as a security precaution. However, this is a personal decision. Don’t leave your location off altogether as this could lead to the lowest ranking in ATS.

    Phone/texting number: Oh, technology! Yes, some employers will actually text their candidates. Make sure to indicate if you receive texts and whether the phone number is a cell phone or home phone. This is a great time to make sure your voicemail message states your full name and is professional.

    Email address: It is in your best interest to ensure that you have a professional email address that does not reveal your age. Age discrimination is real, and listing your birth year or using an antiquated email service like AOL can definitely trigger it. Your email address should include a variation of your name and some numbers if necessary. You can even make a totally separate email account and use it only for your job search. 

    LinkedIn profile: If you have a LinkedIn profile definitely include it. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you could be missing out on opportunities. Now is the time to create one! In your settings, you can easily create a shortened LinkedIn URL that doesn’t have a bunch of random numbers and letters.

    Here’s a side note about social media and online presence. Potential employers will very likely look you up online. Many Recruiters tell us that looking a candidate up on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter is one of the first things they do. So, make sure everything you post online is what you would want an employer to see. 

    Additionally, online behavior can benefit you. Do you have a nursing related website or blog? Are you an Instagram celebrity? Maybe you created a successful YouTube channel when you were a newbie nurse? Include all this on your resume if it relates to nursing. This is all part of your unique brand! 

    HOW TO LIST NURSING CREDENTIALS

    According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (AACN) the preferred order is: Highest degree earned, Licensure, National Certification. 

    • Educational degrees include doctoral degrees (PhD, DrPH, DNS, EdD, DNP), master’s degrees (MSN, MS, MA), bachelor’s degrees (BS, BSN, BA), and associate degrees (AD, ADN).
    • Licensure credentials include RN, LPN,CNA, and APRN.
    • National certification, which is occasionally voluntary for nurses and obligatory for advanced practice nurses, is awarded through accredited certifying bodies such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), includes RNBC (Registered Nurse-Board Certified) and FNP-BC (Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified).

    You may also choose to include the following award and honors though, it is voluntary:

    • Outstanding achievements in nursing such as FAAN (Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing).
    • Other certifications that recognize additional skills such as the EMT-Basic/EMT, awarded by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician.

    PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY

    Don’t make an employer (or ATS) search your entire resume for reasons to invite you to interview. Tell them right off top exactly why you are the best candidate for the role.

    Every position is unique and this is your first opportunity to optimize the resume for ATS and to also catch the employer’s eye. Spend a little time to target it and to let your qualifications and accomplishments shine. 

    While there is some debate about how to introduce your resume, we suggest using a professional summary as opposed to a career objective. The professional summary can be formatted in either a short paragraph or a bulleted list asserting qualifications and providing a concise career snapshot.

    Think of your resume summary as an “Elevator Speech” - a quick, attention-grabbing, loaded statement that entices the reader to want to continue on. Your professional summary is unique to you and should be targeted to a specific role just like the cover letters career counselors used to tell us about.

    However, it could definitely include the following information: 

    1. Number of years of experience in a specialty 
    2. Keywords (List: common keywords found in nursing job descriptions, i.e, excellent patient care, acute care, family education, compassionate.) 
    3. Facility designations or info about facilities 
    4. Supervisory experience + # of subordinates
    5. Special certifications or awards
    6. Language abilities
    7. Soft skills such as patience, compassion, and a cooperative spirit

    Here’s an example: 

    4+ years nursing experience with strong clinical background in critical care (CCU) and intermediate care nursing (IMCU). Proactively streamlines operations, initiates tasks and supports the healthcare team, while prioritizing excellent patient care. Champions patient and family education by providing compassionate, inclusive care that encourages self-sufficiency. Recipient of the Daisy Award. Bilingual in English and Spanish

    NURSING SKILLS AND AREAS OF EXPERTISE

    It is a common mistake to list hard skills last on a resume. With the popularity of ATS this mistake could cost you an interview. This is especially true in nursing as the profession requires very specific skills. List skills within the top ⅓ of the resume.  Your hard skills should be directly targeted to the role as it is expressed in the job description. 

    Is the employer asking for a specific EMR that you are experienced with? List it! Are you an expert at starting IVs because of your five years of experience in the emergency room? List it!

    This should not be a generic list of skills, but a specific list that is as quantified as much as possible. It’s possible that if you are a newer nurse or are making a specialty pivot that you may not have hard skills to include. In that case, it’s okay to omit this section and highlight your transferable soft skills within your job history.

    LICENSURE

    While most nurses list their license title on their resume, it’s been our experience that they leave off a few very important details - most notably, whether the license is active and the expiration date. 

    Why is this important? Including this information lets potential employers know that you are ready to start work ASAP. They don’t have to wait for the licensing process. Including your license number is optional and you can make this decision based on your privacy comfort. The employer will likely be verifying your license online anyway (this is all public information).

    If you are an advanced practice nurse, you may decide to leave off license numbers for privacy purposes, especially your DEA number or controlled substance registration number.

    Here’s an example of how to list your licensure: 

    Registered Nurse - California, #RN00101, expires: 4/17/2022. 

    CERTIFICATIONS AND CREDENTIALS

    This is another key section where some important details are typically missing on the nursing resumes we’ve seen. While most nurses list their credentials, it’s important to list them in a specific manner.

    Don’t simply list acronyms, as some ATS systems may not be programmed to read shortened versions. Make sure to list the accrediting body, credential/certification number (where applicable) and the expiration date. 

    Here’s an example: 

    Basic Life Support (BLS), American Heart Association, expires: 12/1/2021

    WORK HISTORY

    Employers want to know what you can do for them, period.  Nurse Recruiters we’ve talked to will zero in on this section. What are they looking for? Evidence, facts, quantifiable points - proof to support the assertions made in your resume summary.

    Vague work histories are particularly frustrating to employers. Especially copied and pasted job descriptions. Don’t do that.  Instead, do this: 

    Use simple section headers such as, “Work History” or “Relevant Experience,” these are ATS friendly. “What I’ve Done” is not. 

    List experience in reverse chronological order. Take note, if you have a lengthy employment history, you may consider only including the most recent 10-15 years experience. This will shorten your resume and also limit the chances that you’ll encounter age discrimination. Looking at the big picture experience from 25 years ago doesn’t necessarily speak to your recent nursing experience. Employers care about what you can do for them now.

    List job title first followed by your specialty. This is a controversial subject but, we believe employers care more about what you’ve done than who you’ve worked for. Use the job title as it is listed in the job posting or use a more industry-wide job title. Registered Nurse as opposed to Clinical Nurse II. 

    Facility name is self-explanatory and will come next. 

    Employment Dates. These are important and can be listed a number of ways. However, it’s been our experience that specific dates are not necessary for a resume. On an application, yes, on a resume, not so much. You can simply list the months and years (mm/yy - present).

    Facility-specific and unit-specific information. This information is helpful and important to employers but, is left off the majority of resumes we’ve seen, it includes: 

    • Trauma level: level I, II, III
    • Facility Designations 
    • Awards
    • EMR/EHR
    • Total Hospital beds
    • Total unit beds
    • Patient demographics

    Primary duties look best in a bulleted list of no more than six points including duties, noteworthy accomplishments, and achievements. It’s important to emphasize specific duties and not be too vague. Also, try your best not to simply regurgitate basic nursing duties that would be assumed of your role. This will take up valuable space on your resume and not really tell the reader much about you!

    Wondering what specifics to include? Here are a few questions to get those wheels turning:

    • What illnesses, injuries or traumas do you care for? 
    • What cases do you work on? 
    • What type of medications do you administer and how? 
    • What therapies do you perform? 
    • What equipment do you use? 
    • How have you improved processes? 
    • When have I been first or best?
    • No. 1 achievement in each position?
    • Which achievements have the most impressive numbers?
    • When have I been publicly recognized?

    Wondering how to order your bullets and what to include? Try this: start with a verb leading to quantifiable data or a specific point and include a relevant duty.

    Here are a couple of resume examples: 

    Supervised staff of 15 Registered Nurses, 8 Certified Nursing Assistants and 7 Paramedics while multitasking excellent patient care. 

    Cared for up to 4 patients per shift with acute neurological disorders including: strokes, spinal cord injuries and head trauma.

    Resume Action Verbs

     Adhered  Displayed   Planned  
     Administered  Educated   Preserved 
     Applied  Ensured   Provided
     Assessed  Evaluated   Reacted
     Assisted  Executed   Reported 
     Built  Explained   Responded
     Collaborated  Followed   Scheduled
     Communicated  Helped   Shared
     Contributed  Led   Supervised
     Decided  Listened   Taught
     Delegated  Managed  Tracked
     Delivered  Measured  Trained
     Demonstrated  Negotiated  Treated 
     Developed  Observed  Updated
     Directed  Performed  Wrote

    Positive Adjectives to Use on a Resume

    Assertive Friendly Productive
    Attentive Hard-working Professional
    Balanced Honest Qualified
    Broad-minded Independent Realistic
    Cheerful Inventive Reliable
    Committed Knowledgeable Resourceful
    Compassionate Mature Responsible
    Conscientious Motivated Sociable
    Consistent Objective Tenacious
    Creative Patient Traditional
    Direct Persistent Trustworthy
    Dynamic Practical Unconventional
    Eclectic Proactive Unique

    EDUCATION AND TRAINING

    In the nursing profession, education and training are of utmost importance. If you have work experience, this section can be fairly brief.  You should list your relevant degrees in chronological order. 

    There are varying opinions regarding the specific ordering of education. However, we believe that the degree or certification title should be listed first. Employers care firstly that you have the education requirement they need and secondarily where you obtained the requirement. 

    We suggest the following format:  Degree or Certification Title (acronym), Institution Name 

    Here’s an example: 

    Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN), University of Washington 

    You may be wondering whether to include the graduation date. This is a personal decision and is not required, as it could reveal your age. Age discrimination is the top form of employment discrimination an affects all age groups. If you graduated more than 10-15 years ago, it may be a good idea to omit the date. You can use your personal discretion.We also did not include a GPA. This is another personal decision. If you are particularly proud of your GPA, by all means, include it! However, it is not required. If you graduated with honors that you are proud of, you can definitely include that as well. Again the resume is a unique snapshot of you! If you graduated more than a few years ago, you can likely omit your GPA.

    If you possess other degrees not related to nursing, it is not necessary to include those on your nursing resume. Some second career nurses like to list this information, especially if there has been an interesting career pivot or one that brings a lot of value to your role as a nurse. Remember, you are telling your personal, unique story and you get to decide what to include.

    If you are currently enrolled in higher education to advance your studies within the nursing field that should be listed on your resume and stated that the degree is pending or in progress. However, if you started a graduate degree program, never finished and do not plan on finishing, it is unnecessary to include on the resume. 

    Lastly, nurses do not need to include their high school diploma on their resume. The nursing profession requires completion of higher education and therefore, your higher degree trumps your diploma. 

    AWARDS, ACCOMPLISHMENTS, AFFILIATIONS

    Though this section is not required, we encourage including awards and accomplishments that are relevant to the nursing profession. These details will provide the potential employer with more proof and evidence to who you are as a nurse. 

    In this section, you can include: 

    • Awards and recognitions that are specific to the hospital or facility where you work. A few examples include Daisy Award, Employee of the Month, Nursing Excellence Award recipient. 
    • Professional memberships and affiliations relating to nursing and/or healthcare.
    • Volunteer work, if it relates to nursing. 

    We suggest the following format: Title, organization, year

    Here are a couple of examples:

    Recipient, Nursing Excellence Award, Washington Medical Center

    Volunteer, American Red Cross - Haiti - 2012

    SAVING THE RESUME

    One last thing, saving! Don’t just give your resume any old name! Hiring professionals sometimes receive multiple documents from candidates and they don’t want to waste time sorting through every document to find the resume. Some prefer to organize resumes by specialty. Tell them exactly which document is your resume. 

    We suggest the following format: firstlast_specialty_resume.doc

    Here’s an example:

    NicoleNursington_ICU_resume.doc

    Part Seven Common Resume Mistakes

    We’ve seen a lot of resumes over the years, and you might be surprised by the amount of strange information people have included on resumes. So, here are the top mistakes we’ve seen: 

    1. Typos. This should be a no-brainer but, make sure to proofread and even have another set of eyes proofread for you. 
    2. Birthday or age. Huge red flag for age discrimination. 
    3. Including salary information. An employer could assume your salary is too high or too low, so just don’t list it. 
    4. Including personal information. Don’t include things like photos, religious affiliations, Social Security Numbers, marital status, kids.
    5. Using only a nickname. If you go by a different name, include both your legal name (the one on your license) and your nickname.
      • For example: Nicole “Michelle” Nursington
    6. Outdated resumes. Make sure your resume includes your most current and relevant positions.
    7. Using first-person pronouns. Avoid using pronouns such as “I” statements. A resume should be in the third person. 
    8. Contact information in the header. An ATS will not see it there.
    9. Unprofessional email addresses. An appropriate email address is: [email protected] but not [email protected]
    10. Inappropriate voicemail greetings and ringback tones. No need to be fancy, a simple ring is fine and a professional greeting is great!
    11. Misnaming a resume document. Recruiters go through hundreds of resumes a day, so keeping track of all those files can be difficult. Make it easy for them.

    Show Me RN-to-BSN Programs

    Part Eight Nursing Resume Templates

    Woot! If you’ve made it this far you should have an excellent understanding of how to write a great nursing resume. We know it’s a lot of information right now and we hope that you’ll use the information to advance your career.

    For a little more help, try using our free resume templates. And when you’ve landed your next interview, check out the next part in this series, The Complete Guide to Nursing Job Interviews.

    Find Nursing Programs

    Current Degree

    Current Degree No Degree/License ADN (RN) BSN (RN) MSN (RN) Other 

    Desired Degree

    Desired Degree 

    Show Me Programs

    Sources:

    1. “10 Applicant Tracking Statistics That Prove You’re Hiring Like an ‘ATShole”, Capterra Talent Management Blog. Capterra, Inc. 3 Sep 2015. Web. Accessed 28 Jul 2017.

    Email Signup

    Nurse.org

    Find a job, learn, connect and laugh.

    Try us out.

    Join our newsletter