Resume guide for landing the nursing job of your dreams
This 5-step resume guide teaches nurses how to create resumes tailored for nursing and healthcare. Topics covered include resume formatting, writing a resume summary, hard nursing skills, soft nursing skills, how to list work experience, and how to list education.
Nurses are some of the most essential workers of any industry or professional field. Most of us see our nurses more than our doctors! The importance and significance of this position mean your nursing resume must demonstrate that you meet the necessary standards and are passionate about your work.
In this guide, we will provide you with actionable tips for optimizing your nursing resume – so you can provide healthcare to patients in need! This guide will cover how to:
- Use proper formatting to create the ideal reverse-chronological resume
- Write an authentic summary that represents your nursing values
- Include hard and soft skills to round out your resume
- Prioritize your relevant work experience
- List your complete education and licensing information
- Add extra sections to gain a competitive edge
1. Use proper formatting to create a reverse-chronological resume
When writing a nursing resume, you want the primary focus to be on your experience working directly with patients and in the field. As such, the ideal resume format is the reverse-chronological resume.
Reverse-chronological resumes place heavy emphasis on work experience, making it the largest and most prominent element of the document. Your most recent position will be listed first, followed in reverse-chronological order by your older positions.
A reverse-chronological resume should always contain the following sections:
- Name and contact information
- Resume summary or objective
- Work experience
These five basic components are the building blocks for this resume format. Typically, the majority of the body of your resume will be reserved for work experience, with education and skills divvying up the remaining space in a side column.
There are also alternative resume formats known as functional and hybrid resumes. Functional resumes place greater emphasis on education and skills, while hybrid resumes combine elements of both functional and reverse-chronological formats.
Both the functional and the hybrid resumes are well suited for candidates with less work experience or large gaps in their resumes.
2. Write an authentic summary that represents your nursing values
As a nurse, your demeanor matters nearly as much as your technical medical skills. The resume summary is the perfect opportunity to show off your personality and share the core values that guide your nursing practice.
Additionally, your resume summary should highlight your biggest strengths and skills as a nurse. Here is an example of a weak nursing resume summary, followed by a correction and explanation:
Incorrect nursing resume summary example:
"Nurse with an interest in working specifically with pediatric patients. Completed a nursing practicum at a local hospital, where I learned to carry out daily care tasks and manage patient records."
What's wrong with this example? This example is far too simple and non-specific. When writing your resume summary as a nurse, you want to provide quantifiable information such as how many years of experience you have or specific responsibilities you carried out. Additionally, resume summaries are typically written in 3rd person.
Corrected nursing resume summary example:
"Licensed RN Nurse with 2 years of experience working in pediatric facilities. Specialized in pediatric care and support. Completed a nursing practicum at Saints Memorial Hospital, with responsibilities such as providing daily care to long-term patients, assisting in the management of patient records, and helping with patient transfers."
Why is this better? This corrected example offers an exact number when speaking about years of experience, as well as more context around the pediatric specialization. The nursing practicum is still mentioned, but in greater detail in regards to which facility and what responsibilities were given to the applicant.
3. Include hard and soft skills to round out your nursing resume
As a nurse, you gain many medical skills that are highly technical and specialized. However, you also interact with patients more than most other healthcare providers, serving as mid-way points between doctors and patients.
With these dual responsibilities in mind, it is crucial to include both hard and soft skills on your resume. Hard skills are your more technical skills, such as operating an X-Ray machine. Comparatively, soft skills are your interpersonal abilities, such as communication and teamwork.
Best hard skills to include on your nursing resume
- Checking and monitoring vital signs
- CPR and First Aid
- Urgent and emergency care
- Advanced cardiovascular life support
- Patient care
- Telemetry (or other specialized machinery skills)
- Record and bookkeeping
- EHR (Electronic Medical Record) Proficiency
- Patient and family education
- Administering injections and medications
Best soft skills for your nursing resume
- Team communication
- Active listening
- Clear verbal communication
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Critical thinking
- Patient advocacy
- Time management
4. Prioritize your relevant work experience
If you are using the reverse-chronological resume format, you need to prioritize your most relevant work experience above other jobs.
Chances are, you likely held part-time or temporary positions – such as serving or retail – while working your way through nursing school. Including these jobs can help to show your motivation and work ethic, but should not be the focus of your resume.
Even if you only have one relevant work experience to highlight, you can make the most out of it by focusing on your key responsibilities and accomplishments within the position.
As you write out your work experience descriptions, make sure to include quantifiable information and detailed bullets points listing out your responsibilities.
Example of a well-crafted work experience entry on a nursing resume
RN Nurse – Pediatric Unit | Saints Memorial Hospital
Shelby, NC | August 2019 to September 2021
- Delivered acute nursing care for pediatric patients, including newborn babies, infants, and adolescents.
- Earned praise for overtime work spent coordinating events for the pediatric unit to help improve the quality of life of the patients.
- Administered treatment and health exams to chronically ill pediatric patients.
5. List your complete education and licensing information
As a nurse, there are two key pieces of information your education section needs to contain:
1. Where you went to school
2. When you earned your license
These can either both be listed in the education section, or you can create a dedicated certifications section for your licensing information. Separate sections are ideal when you have multiple degrees and certifications – otherwise, fitting them into one section is perfectly fine.
Example of a well-formatted education section on a nursing resume: