Building your Nurse Resume in 2023
Building a nursing resume is a task that many nurses find to be daunting. Where to begin? How do you show your true clinical skills and experience? How do you differentiate yourself?
There are many ways to format your resume, show your experience, list your credentials and skill set. There are also important things to learn and understand about applying to jobs in todays nursing market such as ATS and “Knock out Questions”. These things are important to getting your resume seen and also snagging that new role!
- Choosing a format:
While there are many formats to choose from from functional to chronological to combination, one rises to the top for nurses.
This is the most common resume format and also the one that repeatedly is mentioned as the leading resume format for nurses in the literature reviewed. This format allows you to list your work experience and education in reverse chronological order, while putting an emphasis on the work history piece. According to www.nurse.org this format is best for Nurses who have had <5 roles in the past 5-7 years, Travel nurses who are new or have less than 10 assignments completed, Nurses with experience in only a handful of specialties, Nurses who are applying for a job in a similar role to their last, Nurses who want to show vertical career advancement and new Nurses.
On the other end of the spectrum, the FUNCTIONAL RESUME puts an emphasis on your skills, prior roles and accomplishments. The literature strongly suggests against using this format in the nursing field.
The last format type available is the COMBO RESUME. This type of resume takes from both chronological and functional formats and combines them. According to www.nurse.org, the combo resume is best suited for nurses who have experience in multiple specialties and/or medical professions, travel nurses with >10 completed assignments, Nurses with multiple small gaps in employment, Nurses who would like to change their specialty and Nurses who perhaps would like to change their career entirely.
- Design Tips
Keeping ATS in mind, which we will dive into later, design of your resume matters. Keep your design simple and clean. Things from margins to overall length to font size and spacing are important to keep in mind when making your resume.
- Font size should be not be smaller than 10, but ideally should be 11 or up and in Times New Roman or Arial in the body of your resume
- Margins should be 1’’ on the top and bottom and between 1’’ and .5’’ on the sides
- Keep your resume to 2 pages and 3 at max, depending on experience – despite common belief that a resume should be just one page.. In a study conducted in 2018, recruiters were 2.3 times more likely to prefer 2-page resumes.
- Nurse.org recommends the following font size across various parts of your resume:
- Name should be 18-22 point
- Contact info same as the body of your resume
- Section headings should be 12-14 point
- Body and descriptions should be 10-11 point
- How to list Contact Information
- Name, bolded and centered top of the page. Use a larger font too! Think 18-22 point.
- MUSTS >> Professional email address, phone number, city/state you reside, nursing credentials.
- Make sure your phone number differentiates from a land line or a cell as many employers will use text as a way to contact you!
IV. Nursing Credentials
A question I am frequently asked, “How do I list my nursing credentials?”
Simply put, your credentials should be displayed in this format: Highest degree earned, Licensure, National Certification. Example: MSN, RN, FNP-BC This list should follow your last name at the top section of your resume. These will be further explained in another part of your resume.
V. Important sections/headers to include in your Resume
- Professional Summary
- Skills (BE SPECIFIC)
- Licensure (make sure you include your license # and expiration date)
- Certifications and Credentials such as BLS, ACLS, CCRN etc. Make sure to include the full name of these certifications, not just the abbreviations. Also be sure to include expirations.
- Work History
- Educational background/history – be sure to omit graduation dates, that information is not applicable to your resume. Only where you went and the degree earned should be listed.
- Accomplishments and Awards
VI. Saving your Resume
Common themes in the resume literature search related to saving your document are to save the document using your name and make it professional. Nurse.org recommends this simple format, firstlast_specialty_resume.doc (nurse.org, 2021).
Here’s an example:
VII. Robots! Oh my!
Welcome to the 21st century job hunt, where before you can get your resume in front of an actual human being, you have to pass the screening efforts of Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). Essentially, this is a bot that is employer controlled using keywords to pull from resumes to ‘weed out’ applicants. Using what they call “knock out” questions, employers will use the bots to scan your resume to fine answers to questions such as “does the applicant have at least 2 years of critical care experience?”. They also can include disqualifying statements which are employer selected statements that will automatically remove your resume from the pool. Example disqualifying statements would include screening for anyone who does not have their BSN. So as an example, if you have your LPN and BSN, consider only listing your BSN (nurse.org, 2021).
How do you know if the employer is using an ATS? If you have ever pressed or seen an “APPLY HERE” button, it is likely your employer has used ATS for their resume review process.
VIII. Want More Resources?
Want more resources? Check out this nurse led site that offers free resume resources and ed! My lit review consistently led me back to her information and website! Check her out!
Two resources that were covered include the Wellness Tracker and multiple Journals that can help you follow your mental health, moods, symptoms and behavior to understand trends overtime.
Need a Registered Nurse or Athletic Trainer? Go4 is a nationwide app/platform that connects organizations with per diem nurses and athletic trainers for a variety of settings. For more information, or to find and hire an RN or AT, visit go4.io