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Nursing is one of the fastest growing jobs on the market and registered nurses are in high demand.
So, why would you need to worry about your resume?
There are plenty of jobs to go around. You’ll snag one even if you send the most generic resume possible to the nearest hospital. Right?
It may be easy for nurses to find job openings, but it’s still a good idea to optimize your resume before applying.
See, most nurses, like you, are well qualified.Taking the time to optimize your nursing resume gives you an edge over the competition.
What have you got to lose?
This guide will show you:
The nursing profession operates in a fast-paced environment that values protocol and sanitation.
So, it’s important that these values are evident in your resume.
Choose a traditional format like the reverse-chronological resume format. Such a format places emphasis on your experience and education.
Also, go with a layout that makes good use of white space and easy-to-read subheadings. And be sure to choose a classic, legible font.
Unless instructed otherwise, save your resume as a PDF to preserve the layout. Use your complete name and job title to name your file.
Still not sure about how to format your nursing resume? Want to see other types of resume formats? Read our guide: “3 Resume Formats: How To Choose The Best One [Examples]”
Start with the usual information:
And consider adding your license type and number.
Many recruiters still receive applications from under-qualified applicants. That’s because a surprising number of people send resumes without reading the job description.
That’s why recruiters prefer seeing licensure information before reading through an entire resume. It saves them time, so they don’t have to read resumes that don’t meet the requirements.
Anne Smith, RN. (93626) - email@example.com - (857) 365-8237
Anne Smith - firstname.lastname@example.org - (857) 365-8237
Need more examples of how to put the basics on your nursing resume? Need to brush up on your resume making knowledge? Read our guide: “How To Make A Resume: A Step-By-Step Guide (+30 Examples)”
Should you write a nursing resume objective or summary statement?
Are you a fresh graduate, career changer, or a nurse looking for a niche or specific role? Then you should choose an objective for a nursing resume. Resume objectives are for applicants who don’t have a lot of on-the-job experience.
Dependable licensed RN trained to work in high-stress environments and stay calm under pressure. Seeking to leverage meticulous record-keeping and analytical skills to gain experience as a Nurse.
Newly licensed RN looking for a challenging nursing role in a medical facility where I can put my skills to the test.
Applicants with experience in the industry should use a resume summary.
Multi-lingual Pediatric RN with 15+ years of experience in the intensive and neonatal care units of a community hospital. Seeking to leverage management experience in the role of Pediatric RN at General Hospital.
Pediatric RN with years of experience supervising the medication and health records of newborns.
Pro Tip: A resume summary is also a good place to put your hours of availability.
Nursing is a 24-7 job. Adding your hours of availability will help the hiring manager place you better. Especially if you’re applying for a general position instead of responding to a job offer.
Need more examples of nursing resume objectives and summary statements? Read our guides: “+20 Resume Objective Examples - Use Them On Your Resume (Tips)” AND “How To Write A Resume Summary: 21 Best Examples You Will See”
A nurse’s experience section is nothing like what you see on resumes for other jobs.
In other professions, resumes are achievement-driven. Nurses must also include basic responsibilities to avoid getting screened out of a job.
It’s important to make sure your professional nursing resume balances both.
Nursing is a field with a ton of subspecialties. Listing specific responsibilities allows recruiters to know that you have the right skills.
Let’s say your job title matches the title on the job description. Even then, the workplace setting might require different technical skills and certifications.
So, when you include duties on your nursing resume, follow these steps:
Provided care for elderly Renal patients.
Provided patient care.
Once you’re done, go back and see if you can highlight any of your duties by adding an accomplishment.
Want to know how to write accomplishments on a professional nursing resume? Don’t know what kind of achievements to choose? Read our guide: “Achievements To Put On A Resume - Complete Guide (+30 Examples)”
Be sure to include the unit type under each job in your experience section.
Also, include information about the admittance of trauma patients or overflow patients from other units. That way, recruiters know the type of patients you can handle.
Listing the type of unit you’ve worked in illustrates that you have a particular set of basic skills.
Nurses assigned to Telemetry Units work with patients that need constant monitoring. The critical nature of some patients suggests that the environment is fast-paced. TELE Nurses can handle several patients at once and deal with unexpected problems.
Compare that to:
An Operating Room (OR) Nurse who assists patients and doctors during all stages of surgery. Instead of handling several patients, an OR nurse handles one procedure at a time.
So, a nursing home nurse is not going to have the same experience as a nurse working in an urgent care facility. Urgent care facilities are fast-paced with patients coming and going. Nursing homes have permanent residents that require long-term care.
Both are demanding jobs. But the stamina, skills, and certifications are different.
Let’s say you work in a facility for the elderly. You still need to add the type of facility to differentiate your skills.
Let’s say you work in an assisted living facility. You don’t need to provide injury or illness-specific care for patients. But nurses who work in nursing homes do.
That’s why it’s important to mention the type of facilities you’ve worked for in the past.
For a Case Manager
RN Case Manager, In-patient Pediatrics
May 2005 – August 2007
Northwest Community Hospital, Illinois
RN Case Manager
September 2015 - Present
Care Focus - Saint Paul, MN
As you can see, the first candidate added the unit type (In-patient Pediatrics), the facility type (Community Hospital), and the number of beds (25).
Want to make your nursing resume experience section even better? Consider adding action words. Read our guide to find out how to use the best action words on a resume for nurses: “+80 Examples of Resume Action Words For Every Profession”
Once you move on to your education and qualifications, things can get messy.
Nurses can end up with tons of qualifications and certifications. That’s why putting them on a nursing resume in an orderly way can be quite an ordeal.
What should go where? Should you put awards, licenses, or certifications first? Should you list them in different sections or together?
You don’t want to add too many section headers. Let’s say you only have one license. Adding a separate section for “Licenses” would be a waste of space.
Good news. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) anticipated the problem. So, they created a standardized way to list credentials.
Your highest degree should come first on a nursing resume because it’s a permanent qualification. List your highest degree followed by lower degrees. If you have two equal degrees, list the most relevant one first.
It’s a good idea to organize your resume according to industry standards. Recruiters are expecting resumes organized in a particular way. Conforming means they can find everything they want fast.
Want to know what else could go on a resume for nurses? Find out what should always show up on a professional resume. Read our guide: “What To Put On A Resume To Make It Perfect [Tips & Examples]”
Are you writing an entry-level nursing resume? If yes, your education section will include your biggest achievements to date - your degrees.
Consider putting your education at the top of your resume after the introduction. New grad nursing resumes will be short on experience. So, draw attention to your education instead.
Are you writing a professional nursing resume after a few years of experience? In that case, you can put your education lower on your resume after your experience section.
Regardless, always start your education section by listing your highest degree first.
Be sure to include the following information:
There are no hard and fast rules about how to order this information. If you went to a fancy school, you might want to lead with that.
But the best nursing resume samples lead with the type of degree - BSN or MSN for example.
That’s because nursing is a profession that requires you to have a degree.
Recruiters will scan your resume looking for that particular information. Make it easy on them.
2013 - 2015 Master’s of Science in Nursing
John Hopkins University School of Nursing, Baltimore Maryland
Still need nursing resume samples of how to add your degree? Want to find out what kind of extra information can go in an education section? Read our guide: “How To Put Your Education On A Resume (Tips & Examples)”
When it comes to licensure, you’ve got two options.
The first is to list your licenses in your education section after you’ve listed your degrees. That works best if you have one or two licenses. Otherwise, you can create a separate section for your licenses.
Let’s say you decide to add your license to your education section.
You can consider titling the section “Education and Licensure” instead of “Education.” That way recruiters know you’ve included information about your licensure in your education section.
So, whether you’re making a registered nurse resume or a licensed practical nurse resume - location is the biggest issue.
Once you’ve figured that out, the hard part is over.
But how do you make a license entry on your nursing resume?
Sample Nursing Resume License Entry:
Registered Nurse (RN): License number 2263731
New York State Board Licensing, Active since January 2012
Registered Nurse: 173162
Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing
Active until November 2017
For Compact License holders:
Registered Nurse: License Number 132779, Active since 2014
Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), Maine State Board Licensing
Pro Tip: License numbers are in the public domain. Recruiters can look up your number online via the State’s Board of Nursing website.
Putting the number on your nursing resume saves recruiters time and energy.
Show recruiters right away that you have the required licensure. That way they’ll know quicker that you’re qualified for the job. Win, win.
Let’s say you have a certification to practice at advanced levels in a particular state. It’s important to put the name of that state on your resume.
You can not just put that you are an Advanced Practical Nurse (APN). That’s because each state has different criteria for subspecialties in the nursing profession. Also, it may be illegal to use certain titles without permission from the state’s nursing board.
Put the name of the state after your license information to show a state designation. Let’s say your state designation matches your license. Then there’s no need to include the same information twice.
Let’s say that your Registered Nursing license falls under the Nursing Licensure Compact. Then it’s best to include the State Nursing Board that granted your designation.
Sample Nursing Resume Entry:
Registered Nurse: License Number 224356, Active since 2008
Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), Kentucky Board of Nursing
Clinical Nurse Specialist, 2012, Tennessee State Board of Nursing
Nursing resume tips are great, but you might want to take a second to check out the tips that take any resume from average to amazing. Read our guide: “42 Amazing Resume Tips That You Can Use In 30 Minutes [Examples]”
Certifications show your ongoing improvements in the nursing profession. They also show that you have specialized skills.
Accredited and nationally recognized institutions issue certifications. Examples of such institutions include the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing (ABNN) and the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN).
RNs are not required by law to get certifications to work in specific medical units.
For example, you don’t need a Medical Surgical Nursing Certification (CMSRN) to work in operating rooms in many states.
But many hospitals are willing to pay extra. Some at least focus on candidates who have this certification.
Include the following information when listing certifications on your resume:
It’s always best to write out acronyms. You should never assume the reader knows all industry jargon. At the same time, acronyms are important for Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. Be sure to include acronyms that you find in the job description.
Sample nursing resume certification entries:
Basic Life Support (BLS) from the American Heart Association, Current - 2018
Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Current - 2017
There are tons of nursing certifications, and it’s impossible to list them all. So, here are two sources that can give you an idea of what’s available.
The American Board of Nursing Specialties - includes a list of organizations and the certifications they issue.
The Lippincott’s Nursing Center - includes the organizations’ phone numbers and email addresses.
At this point, you may start to worry about resume length. How long should a resume be? Find out by reading our guide: “How Long Should A Resume Be? Everything You Need To Know”
Awards and Honors can include recognition received from school, nursing organizations, social clubs, hospitals, and other healthcare units.
List the name of the award, the awarding body, and the date received.
Sample Nursing Resume Award Entry:
Promise of Nursing Regional Faculty Fellowship Grant, 2012
Foundation of the National Nursing Student’s Association
School of Nursing Alumni Award, 2010
New York University
One other section you can consider adding is a Hobbies and Interests section. It adds personality to your resume. Adding personal interests works best on entry-level or new grad nursing resumes. Read our guide: “+20 Best Examples Of Hobbies & Interests To Put On A Resume (5 Tips)”
Most of the skills you list should come from the job description.
These are your keyword skills. They are also the skills that recruiters try to find while scanning your resume.
But how do you know which skills are the most important?
Sometimes the job description will tell you that a skill is desirable or mandatory. If not, you can try checking out other job descriptions like yours.
You can also check out LinkedIn profiles of other nursing professionals.
Look for repeated skills. You can assume that these are important skills for a nursing resume.
What other skills should you put on a resume for nurses?
Don’t be afraid to include relevant technical skills not mentioned in the job description.
See, you can divide skills for a nursing resume into four categories:
Don’t confuse computer skills with technical skills. Many hospitals are switching to electronic records. So, having computer skills can give you a leg up.
Check the job description for specific types of billing or recording software.
If there’s no specific software or program listed, include your computer skills anyway. That way you’re ahead of the game if they’re planning to switch to digital records soon.
Technical skills aren’t limited to those that require extra certifications. Technical skills can include anything that a person without a LPN or RN license may find hard to do.
Below is a list of skills for a nursing resume. Of course, the list isn’t exhaustive.
Want more examples of skills that recruiters like to see on resumes? Not sure how to list skills for a nursing resume? We’ve got you covered. Read our guide: “+30 Best Examples Of What Skills To Put On A Resume (Proven Tips)”
The chances are that you belong to a professional nursing association of some sort. That’s because there are thousands of affiliations for nurses.
Some of them are academic affiliations. Others are national organizations or groups for specific kinds of specialists.
Regardless, recruiters will want to know if your affiliation with any professional associations. Especially if you’ve received awards or held important positions within the organizations.
Some examples include:
If you decide to add associations to your professional nursing resume, include the following information:
Pro Tip: There are different ways to order such information on your resume. You don’t need to list the group you joined most recently first.
It’s best if you order them according to prestige - personal and perceived. Put associations at the top if you held an office or had an important role. You can also lead with affiliations that have prestigious reputations in the industry.
You’re almost finished with your professional nursing resume. But first, you need to tailor it to the job description. Don’t know how? Read our guide: “6 Proven Tips On How To Tailor Your Resume To The Job Description”
It is still necessary to write a cover letter. For a nursing resume, write a brief letter that focuses on your highest qualifications. Add a few accomplishments from your most recent job.
Also, it is worth it to find out who will read your letter so that you can address it to that person.
Not sure how to write a cover letter? We’ve got you covered. Read our guide: “How To Write A Cover Letter [Complete Guide With Examples]”
Writing a short, customized nursing resume might be a challenge. But it’s possible if you do your research and use the right strategies.
Here’s a recap of the strategies discussed here:
Charley Mendoza is a freelance writer covering career development and business. She's an expert in resume writing, interviewing, and negotiating, a topic she covers in publications such as Tutsplus, Business Insider, Brazen Careerist and more.