Nursing Resume Tips - How to Write a Nursing Resume

Posted by in Career Advice

The healthcare industry is booming right now and it’s expected to grow exponentially over the next few decades.  According to government sources, healthcare spending in the U.S. is projected to grow to $4.1 trillion within the next six years and will account for over 20% of the Gross Domestic Product (GPD).  A fortunate side-effect of this projection is that the medical industry will also create over 3 million new jobs by 2020, so it’s certainly a good time to consider a career as a nurse, medical assistant, or other healthcare professional.


The downside to those statistics is that they are readily accessible.  Lots of people are jumping on the bandwagon.  And niche healthcare universities are popping up everywhere, making it much easier for the average Joe or Jane to acquire a degree.  In the past few years, it has become possible to obtain medical degrees and nursing certifications from accredited online academies and this type of education, in conjunction with clinical internships and preceptorships, has become a popular method of pursuing a career in the field.


So, what we’re left with is a growing medical industry with a growing number of employees in the field, all of them with similar educational backgrounds.  And if you are one of the many job seekers trying to find a job, you need to find a way to make yourself stand out amongst the pack.  Simply put, you need a good resume. 


Jobs in healthcare will require you to have a certain background, but they will also require you to be a certain kind of person. Not only must your resume accurately convey your professional potential, it must also reflect your ability to empathize with patients, families, and clinical colleagues. It has to show that you are committed and passionate about quality care and general health education.


Nurses make up the largest percentage of all healthcare workers, thus there is a bit more competition out there.  Currently there are over 3 million Registered Nurses (RNs) in the U.S. alone and that’s not including Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), and various other specialized nursing professionals.


Nursing resumes tips are everywhere if you do some searching online, but after reading many of those articles I decided to write my own.  I found that the majority of these articles were fairly generic and didn’t offer any real insight into the mind of employer.  Over the years I have worked with countless hiring managers as a recruiter and have wrote resumes professionally for an online medical university, so I believe I have some valuable information to share with nursing job seeker. 


Here are 5 medical resume tips for both entry-level and professional nurses:


Entry-Level Nursing Resume Tips

  1. I would suggest laying your resume out from top to bottom as follows:  Intro, Education, Internships, Professional Experience, Summary of Qualifications.  This is a very logical layout for an entry-level nursing resume.  The intro should be a short paragraph or objective statement that briefly summarizes your background.  Then you go straight into education because this is what hiring managers are concerned with first and foremost when dealing with entry-level candidates.  Next you talk in detail about your internships and then about your professional experience, which you only need to go into detail about if it’s relevant.  For instance, if you were a cashier you may want to list it, but you don’t need to go into the specifics of your responsibilities since they aren’t really relevant.   Lastly, include a summary section with bullet points outlining your experience.  They can be very specific skills or they can be more generalized, like “Able to communicate effectively with patients, families, and clinical colleagues”.  I find this to be a strong way to conclude the resume.
  2.  If you are an entry-level job seeker, you need to place a lot of focus on your education and training.  At the very least, include information on the school or program you attended, the years you attended, and the degree you obtained.  You can even go one step further and list the courses you took while pursuing your degree or certification.  This will show employers that you completed the necessary curriculum and will also help add some strategic keywords within the context of your resume.
  3. Go into detail about your required internships or preceptorships.  You should include information regarding the clinical facility you worked in, the dates you worked there, and your daily responsibilities in the position.  Don’t be afraid to make this the most detailed part of your entry-level resume, especially since you don’t have much professional experience in the field to draw from.  Talk in detail about the nursing professionals you worked with and the level of patient interactions you had.  If you utilized specialized medical equipment, it’s a good time to bring that up as well.
  4. You don’t need to include references in your entry-level nursing resume.  If a company, hospital, or hiring manager wants to see references from you they will ask. Typically, reference checks are made later in the hiring process, after a series of interviews, and they will let you know if/when you need to submit a list of references.
  5. Don’t overdo it.  Too many people have a tendency to write a 3 page novel and pass it off as a resume, which is definitely a no-no for an entry-level candidate.  The best advice I can give you is keep it short, keep it succinct, and keep it real.  After all, you don’t want to intimidate a hiring manager by giving them Tolstoy to read.  Instead, as with any effective marketing tool, you want to give the reader just enough info to leave them wanting to know more.  That’s when they call you for an interview and THAT’s when you really sell yourself.


Professional Nursing Resume Tips


  1.  If you are an established professional, your resume will look a bit different than someone applying for an entry-level nursing position.  First off, I would recommend including a “Summary of Qualifications” or “Areas of Expertise” section at the very top.  I suggest a short introduction or objective statement, and then lead to some bulleted points that highlight your most impressive accomplishments in the industry.  This is a great opportunity to cram in some strategic keywords that will help you be noticed in HR software applications.  You can use keywords that are found in the job description for the job you plan to apply for, or use more generalized terms like “Medical Terminology”, “Patient Relations”, etc.
  2. Do not go into too much detail about your education, especially if it’s a bit outdated.  You should include ALL of your education and training, but you really don’t need to go into detail unless it is very relevant and recent.  If you just took a specialized course in phlebotomy, by all means mention that as one of your strengths.  But the main focus should be on your clinical and practical experience in the field because that’s what employers really want to see.
  3. Make sure you mention your level of interaction with patients.  Most nurses are very patient-oriented so it’s important for you to include information regarding the types of patients you’ve worked with in various clinical settings.
  4. For questions regarding your references or the length of your resume, please see items 4 and 5 above.

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article posted by Staff Editor in Career Advice
article posted by Staff Editor in Career Advice

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