What does it take to be a nurse?

You answer calls, take care of patients, fill out charts, file paperwork, correct doctors’ mistakes, work crazy hours, the list goes on and on.

You are no stranger to the busy lifestyle of taking care of just about everyone but yourself.

On top of all that, not many people understand how demanding your job truly is.

There may not be a more underappreciated career in the world and that is why finding a job with the right company can make a world of difference.

However, this field is also very competitive, so if you’re going to land the best nursing job to suit your lifestyle, it is essential to stand out among the crowd.

Having a nursing resume that can capture all of your amazing abilities in a way that is to the point and easy to read is the key to standing out.

While you were so busy memorizing symptoms and conversions pertinent to doing your job so well, it was likely not your priority to learn resume writing.

Worry not, while you’ve got everyone else’s back, we’ve got yours.

Summary

  1. Resume Template
  2. Formatting
  3. Writing Your Resume Summary
  4. Areas of Expertise
  5. Writing Your Work Experience
  6. Writing Your Education Section
  7. Additional Sections
  8. Resume Points to Remember
  9. Resume “Don’ts” to Remember
  10. Some Helpful Tools

Let’s begin with a sample nursing resume to demonstrate how all the resume pieces fit together. Then we will break each section down to really drill into how to write the best nursing resume you possibly can.

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Nursing Resume (Text Version)

Contact Info:

Marcia Greg
marciagreg@email.com
1 (843) 098-0367
Charleston, SC 29403

Summary Statement:

Registered Nurse: Highly skilled Registered Nurse with hospital and clinic experience. Dedicated to fulfilling duties and maintaining friendly relationships with patients. Proficient at assessing patient needs and developing nursing plans. Specialize in cardiac care and emergency situations.

Key Accomplishments/Areas of Expertise

  • Records and Charting
  • Phlebotomy
  • Cardiac Care
  • Bedside Monitoring
  • Compassion
  • Team Collaboration
  • Punctuality
  • Prioritization

Professional Experience:

Charleston Community Hospital | Charleston, SC
Registered Nurse (RN) | June 2017 – Present

  • Provided professional nursing care to patients
  • Completed daily reports and assignments for nursing assistants
  • Performed detailed assessments of patients
  • Received physicians’ orders and made changes to patient care if required
  • Developed and updated patient care plans
  • Coordinated patient status with nurse coming on duty

Sunrise Heart Care | Charleston, SC
Registered Nurse (RN) | January 2014 – March 2017

  • Informed patients and families of disease specifics, healthcare processes, and medications
  • Assisted cardiologist with diagnostic procedures and recorded vitals during physical examinations
  • Followed guidelines for disinfecting and handling of sterilized medical equipment
  • Observed sedated patients during cardiovascular procedures, recorded vital signs
  • Provided efficient and quality care to all patients seen (up to 20 a day)

Women’s Health Clinic | Charleston, SC
Registered Nurse (RN) | June 2010 – November 2013

  • Acquired assessment data focusing on psychological, physiological, and cognitive status
  • Implemented focused nursing plans for patients/residents
  • Counseled with patients concerning home environment and stress levels
  • Acted with speed and efficiency during emergency situations

Education/Certifications

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC,
Class of 2010

Licensed Nurse with the State of South Carolina

2010

Formatting

As a nurse, you understand the importance of a clean and well-organized working environment.

These properties hold true for resume formatting as well.

You want your resume to be easy to read while making sure the most critical points stand out to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Grabbing the hiring manager’s attention is so important, especially when they generally only give each resume about a 6 second glance before deciding to read on or toss it aside.

Don’t worry though, the answer to grabbing their attention is still quite simple.

Just like your work environment, you’ll want a clean nursing resume – that means a legible font and clear spacing that guides the eye.

You want a well-organized resume – set up your nursing resume in reverse chronological order so that you are always putting the most important and recent skills and jobs on the top.

If you can do that, you are off to a good start.

Start With Your Resume Summary

The best way to introduce yourself is to give a brief summary of who you are as a nurse.

This summary should include specific details about your skill sets that pertain to the job in which you are applying.

You should keep your summary to only a few sentences that are packed with as much valuable information as possible.

Remember, you want to grab their attention in just 6 seconds, so this isn’t time to get wordy or repetitive.

Let’s look at a few examples of what we are talking about:

Yes!

Highly skilled Registered Nurse with hospital and clinic experience. Dedicated to fulfilling duties and maintaining friendly relationships with patients. Proficient in assessing patient needs and developing nursing plans. Specializes in cardiac care and emergency situations.

No!

Registered Nurse with hospital and clinic experience. Great at performing duties. Good at assessing patient needs and developing nursing plans. Specializes in cardiac care and emergency situations. Works well with others while maintaining ability to address high-intensity situations.

The “Yes!” example utilized compelling word choice to more fully describe the candidate and their skill sets in the field, making them appear to be a standout.

The “No!” example describes the same person using weak language and is repetitive in its attempt to describe the candidate fully.

Key Accomplishments/ Skills & Qualifications

Now that you’ve given a brief introduction of who you are as a nurse, it is essential to include a section that will jump off the page a bit more.

Including a section that lists out your key accomplishments and unique skills in bullet point format is excellent for grabbing attention.

The use of bullet points allows for easy reading at a glance and gives you the freedom to list individual items succinctly.

Think of this as the second part of your resume summary.

When you are selecting things to include on your list, try to think of what will make you stand out the most.

Example:

  • Records and Charting
  • Phlebotomy
  • Cardiac Care
  • Bedside Monitoring
  • Compassion
  • Team Collaboration
  • Punctuality
  • Prioritization

As you are coming up with the skills that apply to you, it is important to keep in mind that there are two main categories of skills – hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills, or technical skills, are skills that can be taught and practiced – like placing an IV or catheter.

Soft skills, or practical skills, are skills that are generally associated with one’s personality – like being punctual and having a pleasant bedside manner.

Both skills are necessary to list and you will want your list to be well balanced between the two.

The most important thing is making sure you are listing things that are strong, accurate, and relevant to you and the job.

(See below for a helpful table of some suggested hard and soft skills to include in your nursing resume.)

Writing Your Work Experience

The bulk of your nursing resume will consist of your work history.

This section can be a bit tricky when it comes to deciding what to include, what order to include it, and how much detail to go into in describing each job.

Luckily there are some basic ground rules on how to lay this part of your resume out.

The first thing you will want to do when laying out your work experience is to list your jobs in reverse chronological order.

Your most recent jobs are typically your most impressive and hiring managers generally want to know what you have been up to most recently as well.

Another critical factor to consider is making sure you are listing the most relevant jobs over the jobs that might not relate to the position.

For example, you probably don’t want to list your job as a barista in college if you have other nursing or medical field jobs you can work with.

Selecting relevant jobs will make it easier when deciding what three to five bullet points to include when you are describing it.

Some of these rules are a lot to keep in mind, but don’t let them distract you from the basics.

Always include the names of the places you worked, along with the city and your job title.

Yes!

Sunrise Heart Care | Charleston, SC | Registered Nurse (RN) | January 2014 – March 2017

  • Informed patients and families of disease specifics, healthcare processes, and medications
  • Assisted cardiologist with diagnostic procedures and recorded vitals during physicals
  • Followed guidelines for disinfecting and handling of sterilized medical equipment
  • Observed sedated patients during cardiovascular procedures, recorded vital signs
  • Provided efficient and quality care to all patients seen (up to 20 a day)

No!

Sunrise Heart Care | Charleston, SC | Registered Nurse (RN) | January 2014 – March 2017

  • I informed patients and families
  • I helped cardiologist with procedures
  • I handled supplies and equipment during procedures
  • I worked on cardiovascular procedures
  • I removed patient sheaths

The “Yes!” example describes the tasks of the job in a way that makes the candidate sound skilled and professional.

The “No!” example tries to list the tasks performed in a way that undermines the competency and knowledge needed to accomplish them.

The “No!” example also uses the pronoun “I,” which is usually seen as unnecessary and already implied when writing a resume – steer clear of writing in the first-person.

PRO TIP: When trying to describe your skills and work history, always look at the job description on the posting for the job you are applying to. They will typically include strong power words for things they are looking for. Add these words directly into your resume whenever possible.

More About Bots

A good thing to keep in mind when writing your nursing resume is that many companies have turned to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to help out with their hiring process.

ATS, or bots, are used to sort through resumes and flag ones that appear to be a good fit for the job.

When trying to catch the eye of a bot, it is essential to include as many power words from the job description as possible.

Due to the increased use of these systems some people recommend writing your work history out in paragraph format to pack in as many keywords as possible.

The opposing opinion is that making your resume too text-heavy can be unpleasant to a hiring manager’s eye.

Standard bullet point format:

Pikes Peak Music | Colorado Springs, CO | Music Teacher | June 2013 – May 2016

  • Acquired assessment data focusing on psychological, physiological, and cognitive status
  • Implemented focused nursing plans for patients/residents
  • Counseled patients concerning home environment and stress levels
  • Acted with speed and efficiency during emergency situations

Paragraph format:

Women’s Health Clinic | Charleston, SC | Registered Nurse (RN) | June 2010 – November 2013

Acquired assessment data focusing on psychological, physiological, and cognitive status and implemented focused nursing plans for patients/residents. Counseled patients concerning home environment and stress levels. Consistently acted with speed and efficiency during emergency situations.

A third option would be to use a paragraph format and add a few bullet points below to create something a bit more eye-catching.

Women’s Health Clinic | Charleston, SC | Registered Nurse (RN) | June 2010 – November 2013

Acquired assessment data focusing on psychological, physiological, and cognitive status and implemented focused nursing plans for patients/residents. Counseled patients concerning home environment and stress levels. Consistently acted with speed and efficiency during emergency situations.

  • Cardiac Care
  • Bedside Monitoring

We recommend using a bullet point format that is descriptive and includes strong keywords so that you can appease both the ATS and the hiring manager.

Writing Your Education Section

The education section of your nursing resume will list out all of your degrees (LPN, RN, Bachelor’s, etc.).

You will want to list the highest level certification or degree you have achieved first and then always include any minors or other certifications as well.

Example:

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC,
Class of 2010

This is also the time to lay out any extra certifications, workshops, or skills that are impressive.

Example:

  • CMC certified
  • EMR/EHR used

Possible Sections to Include

In some cases, there will be extra space left on your nursing resume – this is when you will want to consider including some additional sections.

Some sections to consider including are:

  • Awards and honors
  • Publications
  • Noteworthy Projects
  • Social Media Influence
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Volunteer Work

What if You Have No Experience?

If you are a new grad or have recently switched fields, you may have been wondering – “What if I have no work experience?”

You are still able to make your nursing resume stand out.

However, you will want to make a few adjustments that will fit your current situation.

To start, you will want to move your education underneath your summary and not after your work history.

You will also want to try and beef up your education section with as much relevant detail as possible.

All certifications completed and any workshops or work-studies that you have done will be important things to list, while also lending details on the skills you have acquired.

The goal here is to show off how much experience you already do have, even though you are just starting out.

Remember to be confident about your knowledge and the opportunity to gain more experience as a part of the workforce.

Resume Points to Remember

Use different power words

When you are listing skills, it is important to keep each bullet point or sentence sounding fresh. Make sure you aren’t repeating words and that you include as many keywords as possible.

Double-check your work

Now isn’t the time to be shy. If you can have someone take a look at your resume, make sure you get all the feedback you can. Either way, make sure you double-check it yourself and read it out loud to make sure it sounds the way you want it.

Read between the lines

Make sure you are formatting your resume in a way that draws the eyes to what is most impressive. Use bullet points, proper spacing, and list the most important things first.

Try to Avoid

Don’t ramble on

It is necessary to note that you want to keep your nursing resume to one page. If you go on to two pages, you are likely either repeating yourself, including too much information, or not formatting correctly. No one wants to see a two-page resume.

Don’t talk in the first person

The use of “I” and “me” can be a bit awkward when writing a resume and it is already implied that we are talking about you. Avoid using these words, especially in your bullet points.

Don’t use cheap tricks

When you want to stand out, it can be tempting to use a fun and unique font or try to format your resume creatively. These types of attempts will get your resume noticed… and then likely thrown out.

(See below for a helpful table of some suggested power words.)

Helpful Tools:

Nursing Resume Power Words

  • Administered
  • Founded
  • Adept
  • Formulated
  • Built
  • Implemented
  • Created
  • Improved
  • Consolidated
  • Initiated
  • Coordinated
  • Launched
  • Developed
  • Pioneered
  • Designed
  • Organized

Nursing Resume Skills List

Hard SkillsSoft Skills
CMC certifiedCompassionate
EMR/EHR usedPrioritization
Records and ChartingProblem Solving
PhlebotomyTeam Collaboration
Bedside MonitoringPunctuality