The nursing industry is seeing increased demand and wage growth, making it the ideal place to start a career. We pulled together a detailed resume-writing guide coupled with some resume examples and online tools to help you craft the perfect resume and find your next nursing opportunity.
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Although there are three popular resume formats, we’ll teach you how to follow the standard combination resume. This nurse resume combines the best features of its sibling formats to showcase your work history and skill sets equally, rather than prioritizing one set of information over the others.
Functional resume: Also known as the skills-based resume, this format prioritizes your soft, hard, and technical skills as well as certifications. This resume reduces your work history section to a simple summary of your previous job title, employer, and dates of employment by breaking off your accomplishments and responsibilities into a separate section known as a “summary of qualifications.”
We strongly recommend that you utilize this format if you recently graduated and only have short-length clinical experience. This format will help you showcase your academic training and experience to potential hiring managers. You need to be cautious with this resume format. The unique use of multiple skills sections makes it difficult for applicant tracking systems, or ATS, to parse and analyze your suitability for an open job correctly.
Combination resume: As we mentioned before, the combination resume brings forth the best of the two previously mentioned resumes. Although the resume sections follow the same structural format as a chronological resume, a combination resume switches the placement of the dedicated skills and work history sections so you can lead with your technical skills before describing your professional accomplishments.
This resume is ideal for job candidates with extended academic backgrounds, specialized training, and three to nine years of professional experience. As a member of a highly trained medical professional, it’s the ideal format for your job search.
If you’re writing a combination resume, your skills section will list six-to-eight job-specific abilities. However, this dedicated section is not the only place where you can strategically share your medical training and personable manner. If you craft a detailed list of your professional skills, you can carefully include additional skills throughout your summary statement and work history, lending additional strength to your resume and application.
To start your nurse resume, we strongly recommend that you create a detailed list of your soft skills (personable skills), hard skills (learned behaviors), and technical skills (highly trained abilities) to carefully choose relevant topics that relate to each open job position you apply to.
We created this specialized list of skills that can showcase your warm bedside manner and certified nursing qualifications:
Your summary statement is a two or three-sentence introduction that sits directly beneath your name and contact information. This brief paragraph can serve one of two purposes:
You can lend additional sway to this section by carefully featuring one or two relevant skills from the list you previously prepared. Be sure to choose skills that aren’t mentioned under your skills or work history sections, but are related to a specific open position.
Summary statement example:
Your practical work history helps you add context to your nursing skills by outlining previous employment or volunteer work alongside specific responsibilities and accomplishments related to each former role.
This section will showcase your warm bedside manner, communication skills with your medical team and with patients and their families, and nurse training, including specialized certifications.
A combination and chronological resume follow the same work history structure:
Job Title, Company Name
City, State, MM/YYYY – MM/YYYY
If you’re a recent nurse graduate or switching medical careers to pursue nursing, your functional resume will follow a pared-down section.
Job Title: Company Name
Work history example:
Most education sections follow this same general format:
Name of University
As a nurse applicant, you can add depth and detail to your education section by including special licenses and certifications such as your Registered Nurse (RN) license number. For example, you can format this additional information underneath your academic degrees following this layout:
Name of University
Remember, you should tailor this section to contain relevant information, not to pad out your resume. Only add certifications that align with the needs of an open position. Here’s a list of special licenses and certifications that you can add to your education section to offer hiring managers an in-depth understanding of your medical training:
Here’s a detailed list of additional nursing certifications.
Education section example:
Although a nurse resume can give hiring managers a quick, detailed summary of your accomplishments, a cover letter can lend context to your resume as well as showcase your personality. A combined cover letter and resume application can create a stronger indication of your value as an employee and colleague. Our Resume Builder features a matching Cover Letter Builder that can help you create an easy cover letter in minutes.Build a Cover Letter
As many Americans reach retirement age, there’s been an increase in demand for well-trained nurses. Nurses’ salaries vary from state to state and within counties, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nurses make the following averages across the U.S.:
Fortunately for you, most accredited nursing programs require extensive clinical skills labs and real-world clinical courses throughout hospitals, private clinics, and community centers in addition to anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and general psychology academic courses. You can showcase this combination of comprehensive academics and on-the-ground learning to demonstrate practical experience through your certification program.
You can also explain your recent graduation and further explain your practical experience from your academic program in your summary statement. Most hiring managers will appreciate the contest, understand your recent graduation, and request additional references to offset your relative lack of professional experience.
The ideal nurse stands out in two ways: Strong technical medical skills and a warm bedside manner. You can stand out by showcasing your ease with patients as well as your extensive medical and nursing know-how.
You should put your RN license number under your education or license and certifications sections. An ideal resume is a detailed summary of your professional qualifications — your RN license number quickly affirms that you’re qualified to pass a state's rigorous examination and application requirements.
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