Whether you are a new nursing graduate or ready to dust off your nursing resume and look for new opportunities, you must be able to showcase your talents in a concise, well-organized, and professional manner.
Here's how to write an exceptional nursing resume:
Name and contact information.
Keep this simple and straight to the point. Bold your name but not your contact info. Your name can be in 12-14 point fonts, whereas your contact information can be in 10-11 point fonts. Include any earned designations after your name such as ACNPC, AFN-R, BPHN, CCM, CCRN, LPN, RN, and others. Be sure your name on your resume matches how you are listed through licensing bodies so there’s no confusion.
Your resume needs to indicate why someone would be reading it, be specific and clear. Think of your nursing profile as the mini-excerpt around your professional life. For example, state which unit of a hospital you’re targeting.
Whether you label this category or not, this section highlights the core strengths and experience you bring to the proverbial table. Write it with a marketing perspective – clearly indicate you have what a prospective health organization wants. A profile is more forward-looking, whereas a Summary takes more of an historical viewpoint. Look to the future when it comes to your nursing career.
List nursing degrees earned, schools attended, and graduation dates instead of dates of attendance. If you’ve graduated in the past 3 years, be sure to include your clinical rotations in the format: unit, organization and dates. You can also include a line with non-identifying patient information such as gender, age, and presenting condition to further highlight your clinical experience.
List certifications and related designations earned, the issuing body, and completion dates. Also include license numbers and expiration dates.
Highlight nursing positions held in reverse chronological order. Include dates of employment and the corresponding health organization names and locations. Format according to personal preference but keep in mind that bulleted statements are easier to scan quickly by human eyes, whereas your talents can get lost in paragraph-style entries.
When discussing experience, stay within 3-5 statements; otherwise you risk trying to “say everything” which is counter-productive. Use this formula for all statements: Action Word + Detail + Impact. Quantify and/or indicate the value of your actions and tasks. Examples: accuracy rates, beds per shift, time frames, discharge efficiency, etc. Look at each bulleted statement and think about applicable metrics. Too many nurses list an action word along with a detail, and then… stop. Follow the formula through to a powerful finish.
This category is more likely to be used by new nursing grads. You need only go back 5-10 years. Even if your prior work history wasn’t in nursing, you still need to list your job titles, demonstrate dates of employment and provide the employer names. Briefly discuss universal skills such as how you worked independently or as part of a team, communication and problem-solving skills, customer relations, remained cool under pressure, etc.
List most recent events and work backwards in reverse chronological order. Indicate title of course, seminar, nursing conference, etc. along with the provider name and date of completion. List anything you’ve completed within the past 3 years to show professional currency and relevancy. Indicate number of hours completed per year, as appropriate.
Professional memberships and affiliations.
List current memberships; can also indicate length of membership, i.e. 2007 – current. If it’s important to list a lapsed membership on your resume, renew it first. You may also post an online resume.
List any medical-related software with which you are familiar or proficient, as well as MS Office Suite, and other relevant programs and electronic, handheld documentation tools.
List any nursing-related or other relevant volunteer activities that show off your care giving skills and traits or attributes.
Do not list your references on your resume unless they are specifically requested as part of the application process. Even then, your references deserve a page of their own. To be safe, have 5-6 references identified and focus on those individuals that can and will positively attest to your nursing skills.
Do you have any tips on how to write nursing resume that you would like to share? All thoughts and suggestions are welcomed from nurses, nurse managers, recruiters, and others. Thank you!