Expert Tips for Writing Your Nursing Resume

Imagine that a recruiter or a human resources officer contacts you about a terrific nursing job. And they say, “Send over your resume as soon as possible.” Do you have one ready to go?

This industry moves fast, and you need to be ready, according to Cameron B., a nurse recruiter with American Mobile. If you don’t already have a current resume, it’s time to create one. A general rule of thumb when writing a nursing resume: be specific but concise.

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How to Optimize Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Software (ATS)

If you’re applying for a travel nursing job, you might not need to worry about optimizing your resume for applicant tracking software. This type of human resources software can scan a high volume of resumes for certain key words or relevant buzzwords, allowing a recruiter to search for candidates by job title or special skills. 

Focus on using specific terms, including action words that really reflect your experience and skills. If you’re applying for a specific job, look for key words or phrases that are used early or often in the job description, and be sure to include those in your resume where applicable.

Nursing Resume Format

You don’t have to use any one particular format for your resume, according to Cameron, as long as you make sure that you include all the important information in very clear and very clearly delineated ways.

But usually, the best way to start is to put your name and contact information at the top. Use a professional email address that makes you sound like the professional you are.

Then, you can create separate sections for the key pieces of information with a heading for each.

What to Include in Your Nursing Resume

Here are the other elements that you’ll want to include in your nursing resume. If you can incorporate numbers or stats to catch a hiring manager’s eye, so much the better.


Why do you want someone to hire you? “Make it clear why they have your resume in their hands,” said Cameron. “Two sentences, tops, with very clear action as to what you expect to happen because this person has your resume in their hands.”

Put the objective at the top of your resume, under your contact information. Cameron also recommends sticking with the third person when writing your objective.

Nursing skills and duties

Here’s your opportunity to show potential employers what you can do.  “A resume needs to be a brag about why you’re the best and why they should choose you,” said Cameron. A few examples of skills or duties that you could include:

  • Special skills with specialized equipment, like ventilators, ECG monitors or telemetry equipment
  • Experience as a charge nurse
  • Experience with various electronic medical records systems
  • Other specialized training that you may have

And if you’re applying for a travel nursing job, be sure to mention that you have experience floating to other units, since it can make you very marketable to employers, noted Cameron.

Nursing experience

Here’s the section where you list all the places where you’ve worked. Cameron advises making sure that you list the full name of the facility, the location, and the approximate dates when you worked there (month and year of your start date and end date should be fine). List the type of job or role that you had at each facility. And you could consider adding information about the type of work that you did in each role. Job duties should be bulleted and should clearly show your impact in that role using impact verbs (ie. led, managed, responsible for).

Organizing Your Credentials Field

Hiring managers will definitely want to know about all of your credentials, since some are required for employment–and others will make you stand out as a job candidate. List each certification that you have acquired, along with the expiration date. This makes it easier for a recruiter to know where you stand, too.

Additional Sections

“You don’t have to add any additional sections to your resume if you feel you’ve thoroughly represented your nursing experience and skills. But if you do have some volunteer experience that’s relevant to your nursing career, you could include an additional ‘volunteer’ section to explain that,” Cameron said. This could include serving on the board of a healthcare nonprofit, specific volunteer experience that utilized your nursing skills, or perhaps healthcare mission trips.

But resist the urge to add in unnecessary information that’s not relevant to your nursing goals. In other words, omit the details about your recreational soccer team or your passion for line dancing. “None of that tells me what you can do as a nurse,” said Cameron.

Resume Mistakes to Avoid

1.Not Enough Detail

Your resume is your first impression. As a new grad, you don’t have the history of more seasoned nurses. So, you must make your new graduate nurse resume stand out in other ways.

One way to stand out is to include detail. Not mundane or expected detail, but important detail. Make sure you explain how you made the most of your nursing school experience. Include information that highlights your strengths. Reading through common nurse interview questions can help determine what should take priority.

2. Lack of Explanation

Perhaps you took time off from having a job because you wanted to dedicate your time to school. Don’t assume the person reading your new grad nurse resume will know that. 

Explain any gaps of time that do not show you actively working. Avoid saying, “I couldn’t handle school and work.” Use words and phrases that don’t cast a negative light on your abilities.

3. Incorrect Credentials

The field of medicine is filled with many abbreviations, credentials, and unusual terminology. Make sure you use the correct and appropriate credentials on your new grad registered nurse resume. Overlooking a mistake like that could cost you an interview.

4. Be Specific

Don’t focus your resume on obvious things like being BLS certified or that you are skilled at IV insertion. These types of certifications and skills are a given as a new grad.

List specifics such as the number of patients you tended to per shift or how many procedures you performed throughout your clinical. This will provide the interviewer with a clearer picture as to both your time management and clinical skills.

5. Failing to Check Grammar and Spelling

In your excitement, haste, nervousness, and rush to get a job, it is often the little things that get overlooked. Make sure to have one or two people proofread your resume. Recruiters will view a sloppy resume as a sign you don’t care about your work. 

Free Online Tools for Writing a Nursing Resume

1. Resume-Now:  This job search assistance website provides a nursing resume building tool to help you create your nursing resume based on an existing template. You can choose from several options depending on how you want it to look.

2. CareerBuilder Resources:  CareerBuilder provides advice for brand new RNs and experienced nurses who are creating their nursing resume. It notes that education and certifications are always important to include, and the job search website highlights tips for creating an ideal RN resume.

3. MyPerfectResume:  This website offers nursing resume samples to follow and advice on using industry-specific keywords and phrases when creating your resume for nursing jobs.

4. Resume Companion:  This free online tool offers nursing resume examples based on your years of experience. An entry-level nursing resume, for instance, is going to include different details than a more experienced RN's resume. Resume Companion also provides tips on writing your own and what sections you should be sure to include.

INTERESTED in launching your own travel nurse adventure? Connect with an AMN Healthcare recruiter to explore opportunities throughout the U.S.

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