Making Your Nursing Resume Stand Out



nursing resumeWhether you are a recent graduate in nursing or are advancing into the next step in your nursing career, an excellently written nursing resume is one of the most important tools you can have.

Consider this: employers often receive hundreds of resumes for a single position that is vacant. With online job boards now also advertising for these employers, sometimes the number of applicants is even higher.

When it comes to landing the job of your dreams, first impression truly is everything. Human resource professionals base this first impression on a single piece of paper: your resume.

What is a resume? A resume is a marketing tool that sells a product — you!¹ As a nursing graduate or a nursing professional, how will you use your resume to set yourself apart from the sea of other applicants?

 Tips for Writing A Nursing Resume That Stands Out

  • Keywords — Human resource agents know what they are looking for in a resume. In fact, many have now turned to automated databases that scan each resume received for keywords that fit the particular job description. Make sure that your nursing resume contains specific key words related to the job or position you are applying for. What qualifications or skills do you possess that are required by this position? Be sure to include those.
  • Reverse Chronological Order — Make it easier for HR professionals or nursing supervisors to read through your resume by adding experience in reverse chronological order, meaning most recent experience or position held first. This will show the extent of your work history in an easy-to-follow format.
  • Objective Statement — Answer the question, “what do you want?” Steer away from generic objective statements like “A position that will allow me to broaden my horizon and serve my community.” Get to the root of your career goals and state it. Perhaps you are interested in “An RN position in a pediatric critical care unit.” This is a solid objective statement because it clearly states what you want and what you can do.
  • Qualifications Summary — This section is optional, but still useful because it condenses all of your relevant experience and skills into a smaller, easier-to-read section. The purpose of this summary is to invite the reader to proceed to the rest of your resume. Use this section to provide an overview abilities and skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. For a school-based nursing position, something like “extensive experience with children and adolescents as a school nurse in a public school district” is appropriate.
  • Format — Keep your resume to one page. Only include recent and relevant experience if you find that including miscellaneous information forces you to go over a page. If you really need more than a page to include your relevant work experience and qualifications, go ahead and use a second page, but remember to include your name and contact information there as well.

It’s nice to use a resume template because it will make your information clear and concise. However, you should always try to tailor your nursing resume to the particular nursing position you are applying for. Again, use keywords and terminology that are specific to your experience and that will relate to the position at hand.

Remember that only when you have a clear understanding of your career goals can you write a resume that truly represents your skills and qualifications as positively as possible. So before even beginning to write your resume, consider taking a few minutes and figuring out a career plan and your desired outcomes.

For more information on writing an A+ nursing resume, check out the full resume-writing guide at Johns Hopkins University. Also in the guide is a sample template to help you craft a resume that is entirely your own.





8 comments on “Making Your Nursing Resume Stand Out”

  1. When I am sending a traveler’s profile for review by a manager I like to keep it short and sweet.

    Understand the window for initial resume review for most hiring managers today is less than 2 seconds before they decide to take a look further. Don’t require a manager muddle through a sea of text to see how great you are.

    To make my profiles pop for a manager I include 3 key items in a 5-6 line bullet point section just below the name & phone number:

    1) Manager Reference Highlight – don’t wait for the hospital or your company to gather these, do your own & then brag on yourself . Include just one short sentence from the reference that a manager can see right away in the highlights. (remember – managers want to see references from your direct reports, so avoid colleagues & coworkers for these unless the are managers too)
    2) Key skills – again no more than 1 line, get to the point, make it shine
    3) Travel Experience – it shows you can work through adversity and change

    Let me help you with your next travel job today. Especially if you are experienced in Cath Lab RN work, look at our jobs in WA and CA today! Feel free to email me directly at!

  2. The main thing that hiring directors / managers appreciate in a resume /profile is brevity. They don’t have time to read every single detail of what you did at every single job. For instance, if you are an experienced Cath Lab RN who seeks a travel job, keep it simple and keep it to the point. The facility name, city, state, perhaps the size of the Cath Lab, and the months/years you were employed there is simple, it is enough, and most effective.

    When the job description for each facility is long and tedious, hiring managers do not have the time/patience to read it.

    Hiring managers are more interested in what makes you stand out from other Cath Lab nurses. Rule of thumb: if what you did at a job is done by every other Cath Lab nurse, if it is assumed, do not put it in the resume. Sometimes a manager might give a resume ten seconds before moving on.

    Things you WANT TO INCLUDE in a resume: state licenses (i.e. “CA RN, NY RN, TX RN /compact”), certifications (i.e., “BLS”), significant degrees (i.e., “BSN”), years of experience, how much travel experience you have, ETC. These are the basics stuff you want to highlight up at the very top (right below your name and contat number).

    DO NOT FORGET: to mention what makes you stand out from other Cath Lab nurses. For instance, you might highlight: “seasoned traveler”, “5+ years of experience”, “EP experience”, and perhaps most importantly, you want others speaking praises on your behalf. This leads me to…

    REFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS!!! It is always easier to have someone else giving you kudos than you singing your own praises. Try to get good quotes from your previous supervisors. Perhaps you can ask them to write you a brief blurb about you and make sure you put it near the very top. I HAVE FOUND THIS TO BE THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE tool to make one Cath Lab RN to stand out over another.

    If you need some help putting a profile together, I am more than happy to help you. You can e-mail me at

  3. One of the tips I share with the professionals I work with is:
    Avoid the first person pronoun when writing your resume.
    The pronoun has no place in a resume – and for a logical reason: Who else would you be talking about if not yourself?
    Instead of this:
    “I demonstrated professionalism, tact and diplomacy while I worked with our patients in high-pressure situations.”
    Write this:
    “Demonstrated professionalism, tact and diplomacy while working with patients in high-pressure situations.”

  4. The very top of a resume should be like this post. Short, informative and attention grabbing.

    -Availability Date (in bold)
    – Years experience (tailor this to the position applying for
    – Specific certification or license that is required for this job
    -Specific skill set or facility type you have worked in (Level 1 Trauma Experience)
    – Reference Highlight

    The rest of the resume is just filler for HR.

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    I do not recognise who you are but certainly you are going to a
    famous blogger should you are not already. Cheers!


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