Although every career brings with it satisfaction, you could say that nursing is quite different.
Not that it’s satisfaction is better than that of other careers, but the care which nurses give is something special.
Health is one of the most important things you can enjoy. It’s also arguably the one thing you need to protect most. As a healthy individual, it’s easy to take your health for granted. But if you see the pain some people have in hospitals, you’ll be more grateful.
While doctors are mainly responsible for treating patients, it’s the nurses who take care of those patients. Post-treatment care is essential since it’s necessary for healing and recovery.
As such, nurses are important people to have around you. If you are a nurse and seek to help patients get well, you are certainly a gem.
Different nurses work in different places.
And although most nursing jobs are in hospitals, you can also work in other areas.
Some of these include outpatient and doctors’ offices, emergency departments, in operating theaters and even in home health care services.
Wherever you would like to work, one thing is certain. You must apply for the job.
The need for nurses is great. It’s estimated that by 2020, there will be over 800,000 unfilled RN (Registered Nurse) positions. Despite over 50% of health profession students being nursing students, the projected number of unfilled positions is quite high.
There is also the retirement situation of baby boomers. With numbers indicating that there are 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, healthcare needs will certainly increase.
And with this, the number of nurses required will go up.
As a nurse, your services are needed. That means that you cannot lack a job.
That said, you still have to compete for the best positions. You still have to think about your own career growth, your work-life balance, compensation and benefits etc.
You will get these depending on a few things.
There is the qualification you have, your personality, experience and even your level of confidence.
But before displaying your confidence and convincing your potential employer of your suitability, there is the resume stage.
Your resume is the first step towards getting hired. If this impresses the hiring manager, then you get to do an interview.
Note that your resume will have to beat the recruitment bots many employers use these days. These are called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs).
So how do you write a resume that will not only get past the ATS but also impress the human readers?
We will discuss the five main sections of a resume then show you two examples which can guide you in writing your own.
THE FIVE RESUME SECTIONS TO MASTER
Resumes are usually more or less the same in terms of the information they provide.
However, one resume can stand out from others depending on how it’s written.
Whichever type you decide to use, there are at least five things you will have to write about.
These are your personal information, work experience, education, skills and summary.
Of course, you can add more to this list and there is no problem in doing so.
All you need to do is keep in mind that the shorter your resume, the better.
One common section which nurses add is the certifications section.
All your certificates are mentioned here so as to show off your expert knowledge.
Still, other candidates prefer stating their certifications at the top of the resume, following their name and title.
Most resumes are one page long. Others span two pages.
Anything more than two pages poses challenges. Unless the situation calls for it, try your best to stick to these lengths.
Situations which might require longer resumes are those applications for positions where much knowledge, skills and experience are required.
In such situations, you’ll highlight many accomplishments, show off your degrees and work experience gained from different facilities.
Let’s quickly go through these sections before looking at resume examples.
The personal information section
This is the area where you write about yourself. In most cases, this is also the part which takes up the least space.
At the very least, you have to provide the below information:
- Your name – your name is your identity. You have to introduce yourself to the hiring manager. Do not write one name or nick names, regardless of how great they sound or how popular they have made you become.
Two names are okay and they have to be in fonts bigger than the rest of the resume. Your name should stand out and one way of ensuring this is by giving it some color. You can use some color here but not the shouting types. Light orange and light blue are acceptable.
- Passport-size photo – a photo of you is not strictly required but as an informed nurse, include it. Your photo will go a long way in helping identify you. Just think about it. Would you rather talk with someone over the phone or meet with them physically?
Your photo provides a sense of physical meeting. The hiring manager gets to see the person whose details she is reading. This enhances the experience and can even improve your likability.
For better results, ensure your photo is high resolution, has a clear background, possibly white or light blue, is recent and shows a smile.
- Physical address – your physical address is key in helping the hiring manager know about work-related arrangements like transport. She may want to think ahead about whether the company will be providing transport, giving you some extra allowance etc. If you live far from the company, it can also come in handy when negotiating for salary and benefits.
- Email address – this is the primary means of communication for official purposes even though you might receive a phone call. Also, when receiving an offer, you will get it via email. As such, ensure you provide a valid email address.
If your email address looks something like “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com,” then you should consider getting a new address. You can preserve these for your friends but for work purposes, get a professional email address.
- Mobile number – this is another primary mode of communication. It’s especially necessary in case the company is to call you for a phone interview. The number you give must be your own personal number through which you can be reached.
Ensure the phone is always sufficiently-charged and working. In case you get a missed call notification from numbers unknown to you, be sure to return the call. Don’t miss any opportunity.
- LinkedIn link – now here is a critical one. Did you know that today’s hiring managers look up job applicants on LinkedIn? This is the biggest professional social media platform. Being for professional connections, there are differences between LinkedIn and the likes of Facebook.
In fact, many hiring managers consider your LinkedIn profile as a more concrete picture of who you are in terms of your profession.
This is also where they go to confirm what you say in your resume. Any inconsistencies found will reduce your chances of success.
Apart from these essentials, there are other details you can add. One of the common pieces of information are your Facebook and Twitter links.
These are not necessary.
Even if you don’t add them, you might still be looked up in an attempt to know what your social life looks like.
Your work experience is important in showing the value you can bring to the organization.
This is what shows how you have performed in your past jobs.
Instead of just saying that you can do two or three things, use your work experience to prove it.
It’s important to understand that while having work experience is important for most jobs, you can get hired even without one.
Some hospitals may want to hire interns.
This may be openly communicated in the job post or it may be, that you just landed the opportunity.
And talking of landing the opportunity, here is a video providing you with some great answers to nursing interview questions.
In the same way, having work experience is not all you need to become the preferred candidate. Someone with less experience might still beat you in the competition for the job. So, how do you ensure that this doesn’t happen?
It’s all in the writing.
There are two common ways of writing work experience. Talking about your tasks and responsibilities and showing your work accomplishments.
Although both could have their own merits and demerits, in most cases, accomplishments will outperform duties.
Duties handled can easily show the kind of responsibilities you had.
And if you stayed at your last employment long enough, it can be seen as if you were doing your job well.
However, if you ask any business decision maker, they will tell you that numbers are what count.
Instead of talking about how you did a good job, try using numbers to paint the picture of the situation before and after. Here is how that can work:
What if you don’t have any work experience?
In this case, you will not have much to write about here. If you have done any volunteer work, list that.
If you have zero experience, then focus on your skills. Use those to sell yourself as a suitable candidate.
More about skills in the skills section below.
You can also consider applying for paid internship. This will give you the much-valued work experience.
This section is quite simple to write about. It’s just about telling the hiring manager your level of education.
Of course it has more weight than that, but at the end of the day, that’s really all it does.
The weight of the information however is based on the fact that your education largely determines your knowledge levels.
More than that, the university where you studied can also give you some leverage.
The more recognized and well known the school is, the better your chances.
But this should not get you worried in case you never attended the most popular schools.
Something which can cover gaps for you is the certifications you hold. Nursing certifications do a very good job in raising your chances of success.
Some of the common certifications include:
- Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) – nurses specialized in handling cancer patients
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC) – specialization in family practice
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – nurses in operating theaters giving anesthesia
- Acute/Critical Care Nursing (CCRN) – nurses handling patients in critical conditions
- Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) Certification – training to handle trauma patients
Therefore, education is not a very big issue.
The only thing to note is that you should write your education background in reverse chronological order. Start with the most recent certifications or studies moving backwards.
This helps in highlighting your most recent qualifications. If there is a course you are yet to finish, list it first and indicate that it’s ongoing.
Some candidates go on to mention their GPA scores.
Whereas this is not wrong, it is not necessary. But in the event that you have no work experience, you can use these to show your performance in college or university.
The skills section
Your skills are an important part of your resume. They show what you can do, where you can work, who you can be teamed up with etc. This is one of the areas the hiring manager will be focusing on.
Writing your skills should be easy. You don’t have to craft any good sentences but simply list your skills. The one thing you have to be careful not to do is make spelling mistakes.
As a nurse, these skills should be natural. In case one or several of them are not, you can still learn them.
Here are some of the most important skills you need as a nurse:
- Cultural awareness – as a nurse, you’ll be dealing with patients from different cultural backgrounds. These backgrounds shape their beliefs, perspectives, opinions etc. Being a care giver, you have to be able to accommodate diverse opinions. Your ability to do this will go a long way in showing you to be a suitable candidate.
- Attention to details – you have to be detail-oriented as a nurse. Being in charge of medication and other care services means you need to be accurate in regard to details. Not being keen with details could lead to wrong dosages, wrong decisions or even deaths.
- Compassion – nursing is about caring for others. As such, you must be able to show compassion. This should actually be a natural trait though it can also be learned. Even if it’s learned, compassion must be what drives your interactions and care for patients.
- Communication – you’ll be the one communicating between hospital staff and the patient. The patient’s family will also be getting information from you. Some of the skills needed here include active listening, clarity in speech, patience and control of your voice and tone.
- Flexibility – nurses work very long hours. 12-hour shifts are very common. This calls for a lot of flexibility. You need to adapt to such work schedules even when working during the night shift. You will have to make appropriate plans for any personal matter.
- Stamina – with all the movement that is normal for nurses, quick decisions needed and patient care required, you will need to be strong in all areas of your life. You must be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy to avoid being drained and becoming stressed out. Physical and mental exercises will help you stay healthy.
Your resume summary is one of the most important parts of your resume.
As the name suggests, it’s actually a summary of the best things your resume says about you.
If you are still using objectives instead of a summary, then you need to change.
Hiring managers have come to prefer summaries over objectives because of their purpose.
Whereas objectives say what you want to achieve—more like what you want from the company, summaries say what you’re bringing into the company.
The difference may seem small but it’s a big one.
Companies hire for their benefit.
Even when providing employees with the best employment terms, it’s usually for the company’s sake. They seek to ensure they retain the best talent.
This is not to say that they are doing something wrong.
Remember that it’s business and there is competition. If the company doesn’t do well, the whole team—from employees to the business owner(s), will suffer.
That aside, you probably wondered why we wrote this section last instead of writing it first.
Yes, most resume advisers will tell you to write it first.
In any case, doesn’t it come straight after the personal information section?
Yes it does. However, writing it last gives you the opportunity to look at what you have written in the other sections of your resume.
Your resume summary, aka your professional summary, is supposed to highlight your best accomplishments.
These are the things which will attract the reader to read the whole resume. Here are some tips to help you write this section well:
- Always write your summary last – this not only gives you a glance at the whole resume, but you also have the time to think it thoroughly. If written first, you’ll be under pressure to write it well and quickly too so as to write the rest of the resume.
- Give facts and figures – nothing catches the eye like numbers. Don’t use letters to describe numbers but use digits. Instead of “ten percent better patient experience,” write “10% better patient experience.”
- Since your summary is written in bullet point form, re-write some of your best accomplishments to make them short and interesting. This is supposed to develop the reader’s curiosity and urge him to read through to see the whole report.
- Never fail to use keywords – keywords are important both for getting past the ATS as well as attracting the human reader’s interest. Get your keywords from the job description first and then add two or three from the nursing industry.
Following this guide and embracing the tips shared, you can’t get stuck while writing your resume. And to show you the kind of results you’ll get from this guide, here are two resume examples.
Both of these apply the advice provided above. The first one is the resume of a Nurse Practitioner (NP).
For a quick solution for writing your resume, contact our brokers.
Nurse Practitioner (NP) resume sample
Here is the second resume example. This one is of a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) resume sample
Nursing is a great career choice if you love caring for people or just desire to see people taken good care of.
And with your education and certification, finding a job should not be difficult.
And just as you love helping patients, why not help your nursing friends by sharing this article?