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How to Build a Nursing Resume

A hospital's human resource department handles hundreds of nursing resumes a week. A good portion of those resumes are for nursing occupations with a hefty percentage of qualifying applicants. A prospective applicant should consider ways to make his or her resume stand out from the rest of the pile. A nursing assistant scans each nursing resume through a computerized database, queries the database based on keywords assigned by the nursing supervisor, and assures that each resume meets the minimal requirements before submitting the winning resumes to the human resource manager for further review. Resumes that do not make it to the human resource manager will receive a rejection notice, or quite possibly hear nothing at all. If the applicant's resume does not capture the attention of these screenings, he or she may not be interviewed for the position. Therefore, it's important to follow certain steps to help create a competitive nursing resume.

What is a Resume?

A resume, or a marketing tool used to sell services, must convince prospective employers to find out more about you through the interviewing process. Hospital employers must believe that you have the necessary skills to complete the job. A winning resume successfully conveys your work experience and leaves no room for doubt or confuses the reader. A resume lists all prior nurse jobs, nursing programs, and other continuing nursing education that the applicant has achieved in his or her nursing career. This includes all digital nursing schools offering accredited online LPN programs or online RN programs. These resumes must include intensive nursing experience, including treating critically ill patients, demonstrating overall competence while under pressure, and whether the applicant has presented any additional health programs to his or her nursing career background.

Reverse Chronological Resumes

Reverse chronological resumes present the individual's skills and accomplishments in a greater light than any other type of resume. The type of resume targets an overview of the applicant’s background and outlines specific achievements and experiences. The interviewer has a workplace void that needs to be filled. The applicant's must demonstrate that he or she has the requisite skills to meet the interviewer's needs. A well-prepared applicant will create several resumes targeted for specific nursing occupations. This will help increase the likelihood of getting hired. Develop a template and adapt the information towards the targeted nurse jobs.

What's Included in a Resume?

Generally, a resume includes a caption, objective statement, qualifications summary, heading, headlines and bulleted statements outlining the applicant's professional background and all nursing schools attended, including successfully completed LPN programs and bridging RN programs.

A caption simply includes the applicant's name, address, telephone number, and personal email address. The caption should be centered on the top of the page. Use 13 to 14 point boldface font.

An objective statement clearly states what the applicant wants and what he or she can do to achieve those goals. A good objective statement is concise and clearly dictates the projected goals. Be specific to the targeted position. For instance, “RN nursing occupation in a pediatric critical care unit.” In fact, do not list an objective statement without targeting a specific care unit.

A qualifications summary describes the applicant's broad skills and highlights in roughly 5 to 10 lines. A qualifications summary teases the reader to learn more about the applicant. Recent nursing graduates should not include a qualifications summary because of its redundancy to the educational qualifications listed further in the resume. Limit the qualifications summary with 3 to 5 different skill sets, while emphasizing only the skill sets relevant to the nursing occupation. Write this section as a general overview and include searchable keywords that will trigger an interest for the reader.

A heading defines informational sections that describe the applicant's unique skills and nursing education. Reverse chronological resume headings include the following: Professional Experience, Education, Professional Organizations, and Volunteer or Community Service. Use an identical typeface, including boldness or capitalization for consistency within the resume.

A headline explains where and when the applicant's experience took place. Reverse chronological resumes have several headlines under professional experience, including each relevant place of employment. Do not list the job title first. Instead, applicants should emphasize the information that they want their reader to see. Remain consistent throughout. If listing the job title first, then repeat it for each consecutive place of past employment. Include the nursing programs undergraduate GPA if above 3.5, and list graduate GPA above 3.75. List the education section before professional experience if changing careers.

  • In the volunteer experience section, list only positions directly related to the nurse jobs targeted in the resume. Ideally, list leadership positions held when engaged in these volunteer positions.
  • In the professional experience section, list all experience-related employment relevant to nursing, such as internships, part-time nursing apprenticeships, and research projects. Do not include positions unrelated to the targeted nursing occupation.

A bulleted statement relays all critical components in the professional experience section outlined in the nursing resume. Bulleted statements convey to the reader what the applicant has accomplished. Remember to begin each bulleted statement with an actionable verb, and carefully emphasize the relevant skills and experience, types of patients, and completed tasks in prior places of employment. Bulleted statements are easier to read than solid paragraphs. Always place the most relevant statements first before secondary information. Readers usually overlook the last few lines within the resume.

All other relevant experience refers to the inclusion of other pertinent information appropriate to the applicable nurse jobs, including professional affiliations, publications, language skills, and volunteer or community service not otherwise specified in the resume. Only focus on those relevant work experiences that support the qualifications needed for the targeted nursing occupation.

All honors and awards include honors and awards unique, recent, and ideally relevant to the applied positions.

General Tips for Writing a Nursing Resume

Writing the nursing resume should be the last concern before submitting it to the hospital's human resource department. After clarifying all personal nursing career goals, write a concise and focused resume based on all professional and academic achievements as outlined in the previous section. The first step includes gathering all information in a quiet and secluded work place free of distractions. Secure a notepad, pens and pencils, or personal computer, or whatever meets personal preferences to complete an error-free nursing resume. Use a dictionary and thesaurus to accurately use words in a professional context. Estimate completion to take several hours. Next, use resume worksheets or samples as a guide while composing the nursing resume. Start with the caption, objective, qualifications summary, and follow-through until completing each bulleted statement. The final step includes refinement by proofreading each section, and condensing any existing wordiness into a coherent, focused block of text that will convey all marketable skills to the reader.