Crafting Your Nursing Resume
The Five Do’s and Don’ts
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Recruiting in the healthcare industry is completely different from recruiting in other fields. Healthcare employers are not only looking at how much experience you have, but also how passionate you are about your job. You only get one chance to make a good first impression with a future employer. That is why it is imperative that you take the time to craft a nursing resume that sets you apart from the competition.
Nursing Resume Do’s
1. Keep It Simple
First things first. When crafting your nursing resume, be sure to use a template with a simple format. The goal is to make the document visually appealing and easily scannable. Include clearly defined sections where you showcase your contact information, education, certifications and relevant work experience. Additionally, don’t be afraid to include your continuing education efforts. Many recruiters will take this information into consideration when making their hiring decision.
2. Keep It Short
As a rule of thumb, your nursing resume should never be more than a page long. However, if you absolutely feel that you cannot capture all the important details on one page, do not let your resume exceed two pages in length (ever).
The goal of your resume is to pique the interest of the reader, not tell them your whole life story. You want to provide just enough information so the healthcare recruiter will want to schedule a phone interview with you. (That’s where you can fully sell your skills and experience.) Be honest. Be truthful. But most importantly, be concise.
3. Use a Professional Email Address
While “firstname.lastname@example.org” may perfectly capture your personality, it does not convey the fact that you are a mature nursing professional. When the competition for a nursing position is high, healthcare recruiters will use whatever information is available on a resume to eliminate candidates from “the stack.” This includes the funny or flirty email handle you created in college.
When drafting your nursing resume, be sure to include a classic and professional email address in the contact section. For example, if your name is Jane Elizabeth Smith, “email@example.com” would be a great handle to use. The simpler you keep it, the less likely you are to be eliminated for this trivial reason.
4. Include an Objective Statement
Many nurses ask whether they really need to include an objective statement on their nursing resume. The short answer is YES!
“A resume objective is a short, targeted statement that clearly outlines your career direction while simultaneously positioning you as someone who fits what the employer is looking for exactly” (TheInterviewGuys.com). In other words, it is an opportunity to grab the healthcare recruiter’s attention and proclaim “I’m the right nurse for this job.”
In addition to conveying your passion for the nursing profession, your objective statement should be tailored to the position that you are applying to. Take the time to carefully read the job description. What words, phrases or concepts do you see repeated or emphasized? Where is there an overlap in the skills they are looking for and the skills you possess? Use this information to create an objective statement that showcases both your hard- and soft-skills.
Sample Objective Statement:
Seeking a position as a registered nurse with [insert organization name] that allows me to utilize my clinical long-term care knowledge, exceptional communication skills and team-oriented mindset.
5. Use Relevant Keywords
The quickest and easiest way to set yourself apart from the competition is to use industry- and specialty- specific keywords on your resume. For instance, instead of just saying you “used the facility’s EHR system to document patient procedures and progress,” explicitly state what EHR system you used (e.g., Epic, Cerner, Ally). These small (but mighty details) can all tip the scale in your favor.
Nursing Resume Don’ts
1. Lie or Stretch the Truth
While it might be tempting to lie or stretch the truth on your resume, DON’T DO IT. Not under any circumstances. Not ever. The truth always comes out. And when it does, you will most likely be blackballed from ever working for that facility or organization.
Additionally, the healthcare recruiting world is small and word gets around about candidates that are less than honest. Instead of lying, express your eagerness to learn that new skill or acquire that new work experience. Organizations are often willing to work with the under-qualified. However, they won’t work with liars.
2. Include Irrelevant Information
Your nursing resume should only include relevant information about your nursing experience. Information about your non-nursing jobs, side hustles, hobbies, etc. are irrelevant to the healthcare recruiter and should not be included. The goal is to keep you resume short and concise (one page in length). Including non-relevant information gives the impression that you’re searching for “filler,” that you don’t have enough experience for the job. Keep it simple and stick to your nursing facts.
3. Create General or Vague Job Descriptions
One of the biggest mistakes that nurses make on their resume is creating general or vague job descriptions. If you possess a nursing degree, the hiring manager is going to expect that you know how to take vitals, chart, administer medications, etc. There’s no need to include a list of “standard nursing tasks.”
Instead, craft a job description that highlights your exceptional skills or accomplishments. We’re you the go-to nurse on the floor for starting IVs? Did you help spearhead an initiative that improved patient care or efficiency? We’re you honored with an award? This kind of information communicates that you are passionate about the field and a highly desirable candidate.
Nursing Resume Pro Tip:
When creating your work experience section, be sure to include the name of your nursing agency (if applicable), the name of the hospital or facility, the specific names of all the floors you worked on and the average patient ratio.
4. List References
Each company has a different approach for contacting a prospective employee’s references, either personal or professional. That being said, you do not need to waste precious space on your resume listing the contact information for those that are willing to give you an endorsement. If you get to the point where the healthcare recruiter wants to speak with those who can attest to your character and skill, they will ask you for a list of names and numbers. In the meantime, be thinking about those people that would give you a glowing recommendation.
5. Skip Proofreading
Take the time to proofread your resume. Check for spelling errors, clarity and tone. Can you easily read and understand what you have written? Once you have finished proofreading, ask a friend or family member to review your resume and ask for their feedback. Catching simple mistakes and making minor adjustments can help take your nursing resume from “okay” to “get this clinician on the phone now.”
Taking the time to craft a concise nursing resume that communicates your skills, experience and passion will require an investment of time. However, the time invested in this process will yield dividends when you go to apply for a new position.
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