Resumes Tailored For Nurses

Since you’ve gotten this far in life, you probably have some type of resume developed, perhaps from your pre-nursing employment-seeking days.

Tailoring your Resume is Important in Nursing

Here are some specific tips for creating or tweaking nursing resumes.

In the Beginning: Vital Info and Job Objective

Your resume should begin with your vital information, like your full name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (not the one at your current employer). Include a daytime phone number if you can get messages without their being mangled by a malicious voicemail system or broadcast accidentally to curious coworkers.

The next section of your resume should include your job objective. The wording of the job objective should be focused on how you can assist the potential employer, not how you expect the employer to help you. A nursing job objective written as "gain experience in (whatever)," implies that you are going to be using this job only as a stepping stone to something different. While it is true that new grads often receive valuable training (formally and through practical experience) from their first nursing job, you have a lot to offer an employer, especially your new graduate enthusiasm. Emphasizing this makes your resume all the more irresistible to your potential new boss. Your job objective should be specific and detailed. Most job objectives range from about 10 to 15 words long.


After the nursing job objective, list your education and the year you will receive your nursing degree if you haven’t received it yet. Spell out each degree acronym, such as "Bachelor of Science in Nursing" rather than "BSN." If your grade point average was over 3.5 you can reasonably include it, but not if you have been out of school and/or working for more than 12 months. Begin with your most recent degree, and include school names with location (city and state).

Past Work Experience

List your work experience in reverse chronological order. In other words, start with your current or most recent job. Include employer name, location, dates of employment, and a brief description of what you did, using action verbs (e.g., "organized," "directed," "completed," "developed"). If you want to make the resume easier to read, use bullets to emphasize your accomplishments at each job or to outline your responsibilities. Don’t do this if it makes your resume be more than two pages long.

When writing descriptions of your past jobs, emphasize anything that shows how you would make a good nursing employee. If your only job experience is working at Coffee Bean Cafe but you had a near-perfect attendance record or if you had an excellent safety record, you would want to emphasize that in your resume because these accomplishments show desirable traits (dependability, attention to detail) that any employer would be looking for in an employee.

Never held an outside paying job? Or not in a long time? No need to panic. You may well have plenty of relevant experience that will make an employer want to hire you. The most obvious first choice is volunteer work. Again, especially emphasize projects that required you to work on a team, coordinate activities, and prioritize tasks. Were you a Girl Scout cookie mom or a den leader for Boy Scouts? You’ve developed valuable skills that you can highlight in your resume.

It is appropriate for you as a new nursing school grad (only as a new grad) to list clinical experiences in your resume and highlight them in your interview. This is especially important if a particular experience was out of the ordinary (e.g., a community health internship in a free clinic) or if your clinical experience was in the institution you are applying to. This shows you liked what you saw at the institution and you want to return.

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