Anatomy of an Excellent Nursing Resume

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By ANA Career Center Staff – March 2015

Whether you’re just beginning your career or are a seasoned veteran, a well-structured nursing resume will help you gain an advantage over applicants who don’t put as much time and effort into effectively marketing themselves. An excellent nursing resume showcases your education, career progression, professional skills and significant experiences.

For maximum impact, you’ll want to break down that information into easy-to-read sections. Here’s what recruiters and hiring managers need to see.

Contact Information and Credentials

Your contact information will be the first thing to catch a recruiter or hiring manager’s eye. Make sure you put your credentials and certifications behind your name. Are you an RN or an LPN? Do you have a critical care certification or an MHA? Don’t make people have to work too hard to find out.

Be sure to include a phone number and a professional email address. DungeonMaster25@yahoo.com might be a long-standing inside joke among your friends, but it could also make a prospective employer doubt your professionalism.

Also, make sure the name on your resume matches the name on your nursing license to prevent any confusion. 

Objective Statement

A strong objective statement lets employers know the type of position you’re hoping to secure.  “A concise objective is great to have, especially when someone is looking to change careers. I need to know if the position I am filling is something an applicant would want to do,” says Janice Seidenfrau, a recruiting specialist for InVentiv Health.

When writing your objective, keep it concise and steer clear of vague language, such as “patient-focused nurse.” Instead use quantifiable statements and powerful action verbs, such as “charge nurse with 10-years experience leading a maternity ward team of 15 to 20.”

Professional Experience

Your professional experience section is the heart of your resume. This is where you tell the story of your nursing journey, typically by listing jobs in reverse chronological order with the most recent at the top. When listing the places you’ve worked, give a description of the facility, unit and type of nursing you did.

This kind of information is important to health care facilities looking to hire nurses because if they know you’ve worked at a similar facility, you might be a good fit for the position, says Jace Nelson, a senior recruiter at Aya Healthcare. Detail the number and the types of patients you cared for per shift. Make sure you also include the duties you performed in addition to direct patient care. Did you serve as a charge nurse, help train new hires or serve on a quality assurance board?

For an experienced nurse, an effective resume will demonstrate increasing responsibilities with increasing experience. If you’re a new nurse, include details about your clinical rotations as well as information about any other paid and volunteer work experience.

“I am attracted to new nurse resumes that have service industry experience,” says Keith Kaiser, nurse manager at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who frequently hires new nurses.” This means the applicant has patience, can deal with people and is used to shift work.”

Skills and Certifications

In your skills and certification section, detail all your accreditations and expiration dates, equipment you’re comfortable operating, and relevant computer skills including charting systems used and the number of years you used them.

Education

Your education section should include all professional degrees you’ve earned, with the institution’s name, city and state, and the dates you attended. For degrees in progress, include your projected completion date.

Mind the Details

Once you have all the essential information in place, go back and proofread it before you send it on to any prospective employers. “Make sure your resume is clean, easy to read and bulleted,” Seidenfrau says. With auto-correct and spell-check software, many medical terms get changed to more common words. For example, the “neuro” unit you’ve been working on could become the “moron” unit.

Another little thing that will make the recruiter’s life a little easier and set you apart from most candidates: When you save your resume, don’t call the file “myresume.doc”. Instead, export the file to PDF and use your name and date in the file, like this: “JohnDoeRNresumeMarch2015.pdf”.

 “This shows the resume is up to date and that the applicant is detail oriented,” Seidenfrau says.

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