By Tyler Faust, R.N.
A nursing resume may seem simple enough as to not require much effort but nothing could be further from the truth. Outside of your cover letter, your resume is your only chance to showcase what you have to offer a hiring manager to get an interview! Small, simple techniques can make all the difference in making your resume stand out compared to the competition. When you find the job you’re looking for, you need to stand out. Here are five techniques that will help make a great nursing resume.
A natural tendency when drafting resumes is to try to cram multiple things into each sentence and get as much information as possible into each line. This tends to make resumes difficult to read. Hiring managers will find run-on sentences, lots of unneeded adjectives, and sentences trying to say too much. Even though as nurses you have a plethora of experiences to draw from, you will have to pick the ones that best fit the job you are applying for and state them as clearly as possible. Often times, less is more. This also is true of a quality cover letter as mentioned previously. A resume and cover letter that have clarity come across as confident, not desperate and solidify what you say rather than confuse the reader.
Other practical tips:
Less is More
The object of a resume isn’t to give all the information about you, but the right information about you. Utilization of bullet points can be an effective way to clearly write out important information without having to use full sentences. Those less experienced in writing should read through each bullet point and dissect what words are unnecessary and can be removed.
If you are not a strong writer you should consider seeking help. A family member or trusted friend who is competent in writing could be an affordable alternative or you can hire someone to review your resume as well. It would be a small price to pay to submit a well-written cover letter and resume for your dream nursing job.
Incorporating a professional summary into your resume allows for candidates to better highlight their strengths as well as important experiences. A professional statement should be written in the third person and only be three to four sentences long. Within your professional summary you should use specifics, data, numbers, etc. Let’s look at an example:
Highly motivated nurse leader with management experience. An astute learner who possesses a Master’s in Nursing and Organizational Leadership and continually excels with leadership opportunities. Experience leading a team of 45 nurses and PSA staff in a complex and demanding radiology practice consisting of numerous stakeholders.
Let’s break this professional summary down and analyze it. Sentence one highlights that the nurse leader has management experience and that they are highly motivated. This would likely catch the attention of a hiring manager right away. What hiring manager wouldn’t want leadership experience and a motivated employee? Sentence two inserts that the candidate is an avid learner who has an MSN in nursing leadership and has excelled in multiple leadership opportunities. Sentence three notes the size of the team they managed, the personnel, and the environment that they operated in. This type of key information will give readers the SparkNotes of the resume and should grab the attention of the hiring manager. Each professional summary should be unique to the individual with specifics and obviously geared towards the position being applied for.
When referring to the above example one could assume a few things about this candidate. One thing you could conclude is that they are a nurse leader. After noting their education, experience, and current role this candidate is clearly passionate about leadership. Another thing to consider is that they were intentional to bring up their motivation and ability to learn. If, as a hiring manager you value these things, this candidate would be appealing. Additionally, the environment they work in seems difficult and challenging. This candidate and/or resume would be a great fit for an inpatient nurse manager job or and ICU leadership position but not a great fit for a primary care clinic.
A quality nurse resume must flow, interact with, and build off the cover letter. The resume should compliment the cover letter, not conflict with it. When reading the cover letter, and then resume, the reader should feel they are talking about the same candidate applying for the same job. The experiences highlighted in your cover letter and the personal branding characteristics brought up in the cover letter should flow through into the resume. The goal isn’t to be identified as being the best at everything but finding the characteristics that set you apart and to boldly assert yourself as unique in those ways. When it comes to personal branding we don’t want to focus on attributes that are commonplace within the nursing profession (e.g. honesty, responsibility) but the attributes that will help you make a maximum impact in a way other candidates will not. These should always be attributes that are true to you. Don’t pick a bunch of powerful words that don’t accurately describe you.
In the same way that your cover letter should parallel and flow into your resume, your resume and cover letter should flow into your future interview. The better this can be accomplished, the more you will build trust with the hiring manager.
The “What’s Missing Section”
As you are reviewing your resume ask yourself “what’s missing?” In other words, what experiences could I obtain that would help build my resume even stronger? Is it a certification, an advanced degree, or possibly an opportunity on your nursing unit? These are the things you should consider getting if you are not offered a job. Even if you are offered the job and you are considering advancing your career, you will still want to pursue these experiences!
Incorporate these elements into your resume, either yourself or with help, and you will put forth your best resume. At the end of the day a well-written resume alone won’t get you an interview, but if you're qualified for the job it will make you a top candidate and ensure you get an interview!
Tyler Faust is a full-time registered nurse and part-time freelance healthcare writer. He has his BSN and Master's degree and Winona State University and has worked at Mayo Clinic for over 7 years. Currently, he works as a nurse manager. Tyler is a creative thinker, strategist, and passionate about leadership.
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