How to Evolve Your Resume as Your Nursing Career Matures

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By ANA Career Center Staff – February 2014

As you move through your nursing career, you’ll find your experience makes you more valuable as a job candidate. But what’s the best way to summarize and showcase all that experience for prospective employers?

You’ll need to make changes to your résumé as your nursing career matures to ensure prospective employers see you as a valuable candidate. Consider these five tips for doing just that.

Organize Your Experiences

Be sure your résumé contains a representation of your top three nursing responsibilities and a summary of your job description, says Jeremy Enck, vice president of sales at Fortus Healthcare Resources.

Organize your résumé so it shows the increasing responsibility you’ve been given throughout your career, especially if you’re looking for a leadership position. “As a nurse progresses throughout their career, you should be able to see the level of responsibility increase correspondingly,” Enck says.

As you craft your résumé, focus on illustrating and quantifying the results you achieved, says health care consultant Connie Curran, chairwoman of DeVry Inc.’s board of directors. “Instead of saying something like ‘responsible for the care of critically ill patients,’ focus on specific actions. For instance: ‘Lead the care of six critically ill patients and supervised six employees.’”

Show What You’ve Accomplished

List specific accomplishments you’ve achieved at each stage of advancement to show how your career has matured. “It's important to demonstrate continued, advanced skill development,” Curran says. “You want your résumé to demonstrate five years of continued development, not one year repeated five times.”

To do that, identify times in your career that put you on a path to growth. “An experienced RN should highlight two or three accomplishments that contributed to their successful career growth, citing some specifics, such as increasing patient satisfaction or significantly reducing employee turnover,” Enck says.

Illustrate Advancement

If you’ve been in the workforce for several years, you’ve likely changed jobs at least once. Reasons can vary — a move, switching specialties or simply looking for new opportunities.

“Even in positions with similar titles, there should be clearly conveyed reasoning why you changed jobs,” Enck says. “Something as simple as an increase in the number of direct reports, or the size of the budgetary responsibilities shows that a candidate is always accepting of challenges, and looking for growth.” Highlighting this in your résumé can clearly illustrate how your career has matured over time.

List Your Credentials

Include any training, certification or continuing education you’ve received over the course of your career to make yourself more valuable as a candidate. “Proof of continuing education is also very sought after in experienced RNs,” Enck says. “Showing the ability and desire to learn new techniques, as well as the ability to train and precept new employees, is highly sought after.”

Update Annually

Whether you’re actively looking for a new job or not, it’s important to keep your résumé fresh, just in case. “You might consider your résumé to be your personal annual report,” Curran says. “It's a document that should be continually updated as you move forward in your career. Each year, look back and identify the things that you did over the past year that reflect personal and professional development. Make a commitment to revise your résumé annually and tailor these updates to the type of position you are looking for.”

You also want to ensure any reference or contact information on your résumé is up-to-date. As your career matures and you work in positions with more responsibilities, you’ll likely be able to add more high-placed references to your résumé.

If your dream job becomes available, you’ll want to be ready to go after it. If you’re happy in the position you have but like to keep your options open, a passive job search can be useful. In any case, it’s important to have an updated résumé that reflects your extensive experience and strong career history.