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Nursing Resume Length and Feedback on Resume Details

In a previous blog post, we provided our list of the top 10 details to include on a nurse resume. We received a lot of positive feedback and questions about the post. In this post, we’ll revisit the topic to address some of the questions we received and explain why some of these details are so important.

Why Nurse Resume Length Isn’t So Important Anymore

Perhaps the most common question received pertained to the length of the nurse resume. Inquirers were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to fit all of the recommended information on 1 page. That’s okay. A 1 page resume is no longer mandatory, or even preferred.

We contend that the 1 page resume requirement is outdated by nearly 10 years. This is due to the dramatic shift over the last 10 years away from human resume screening to Applicant Tracking Systems. In the “old days”, resumes needed to be screened by a human being. That’s quite a task considering the number of resumes that an organization receives for each job opening. You can understand why organizations would prefer 1 page resumes.

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These days, the vast majority of organizations utilize Applicant Tracking Systems that include powerful resume parsing features to screen applicants. This is why you’re always told to apply on-line. By doing so, you create a data file for your “account” with the organization. When you’re done with their on-line application, you’re typically asked to upload your resume. In fact, these days your resume can often be uploaded at the very beginning of the process.

That’s where the resume parsing system comes in to play. Resume parsing systems can be quite complex and we don’t need to discuss exactly how they work here. But we do need to be aware of two features in particular. First, resume parsing systems can sometimes be programmed to scan through resumes for pertinent information that they can pull out of your resume to put into the job application. This is often the case when Applicant Tracking Systems allow candidates to enter their resume at the outset of the on-line job application process.

Second, resume parsing systems are programmed to scan through resumes for pertinent information that matches the job in question.  Many of the parsing systems in wide use today are capable of ranking applicants based on their resume’s match rate. The more matches the system finds between the resume and the job requirements, the higher the candidate ranks in the system.

Human resource representatives will then begin with the highest ranking candidates first. By the time they get through the top 10 candidates, they will undoubtedly have 5 to 10 candidates that they can contact. The HR representatives are also able to parse their entire database of resumes, as opposed to only those who applied for the job in question, to locate more qualified candidates if necessary. These systems greatly reduce the significance of a 1 page resume.

However, you still need to pay attention to resume length. So…how long should your nurse resume be? The answer depends on how much job related experience you have and the technical nature of your specialty(ies). If you have more experience, then you’ll need more space. In addition, if your job is more technical in nature, then you’ll need more space to fit all of the technical aspects of your experience. And being as how most nursing specialties are technical in nature, you’ll end up with a longer resume. You should shoot for 1-3 pages. That said, we once worked with a CVOR nurse with 15 years of experience and we were able to fit all of the 10 details on less than 2 full pages. Be sure to make good use of space. You can also utilize a skills checklist to convey your technical skills.

Why The Top 10 Details to Include on a Nurse Resume are Important

Of course, your resume will be viewed by a human at some point so you want to be sure that it’s as convenient as possible to scan by sight and has vital details that hiring-managers look for.  This brings us to the second topic we’ll address, the importance of the top 10 details. I received many inquiries questioning the importance of some of our top 10 details to include on a nursing resume.

A few inquiries questioned the importance of including the number of beds in the hospital and the number of beds in the unit. We can tell you from firsthand experience that many hospital Unit-Managers will not consider resumes without this information included. They want to know that the candidate has experience in a setting similar to theirs. Depending on their situations, they’re concerned that candidates won’t be able to handle the stimulus of a large hospital or the flexibility required in a small hospital.

In addition, the number of beds coupled with case-load information conveys the nursing candidate’s ability to handle stress which is one of the key factors hiring nurse managers are concerned with. For those who don’t have experience in a hospital setting, or those who are trying to move to a larger hospital, you’ll need to convey this by adding further details on your case-load or the unique stressful circumstances you faced in your particular setting. For example, if you worked in a clinic, then you can point out the number of patients you tended to per day. If you worked in a small rural hospital, you can discuss the unique emergency situations you faced and the flexibility required in small hospital settings.

Finally, we received several inquiries from nurses who were concerned that some of the details we recommended might reflect negatively for them. For example, some were concerned that they had Associate of Nursing degrees as opposed to a Bachelor of Nursing degree. Others were concerned that they were certified in BLS by the American Red Cross as opposed to the more widely accepted American Heart Association.

While we understand this concern, it’s important to realize that if these details are important to a hiring nurse manager, then they’re going to find out one way or the other. In addition, it’s highly likely that they’ll want to see only nursing resumes that include the details they’re looking for. Moreover, they may be okay with your ASN or ADN given the rest of your experience. However, if you leave the details out, then your nursing resume might get rejected without ever being reviewed.

We hope this information helps. Please let us know if you have additional questions or concerns by posting in the comments below.

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