As healthcare recruiters, we reviewed thousands of nursing resumes. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them were missing multiple details that were important to the Nurse Managers and Nurse Supervisors who were largely responsible for making the hiring decisions. Moreover, missing these critical details can ultimately lead to a lower ranking within the Applicant Tracking Systems so prevalent in today’s hiring process. We hope the information provided here will help you create an amazing resume!
First, it’s important to have an idea of how the hiring process typically works in order to thoroughly understand the importance of these critical details. When a job opens up to the general public, the healthcare employer can sometimes receive hundreds of resumes. In some cases, the resumes are electronically ranked by Applicant Tracking Systems that award higher rankings for resumes that include the critical skills and experiences sought for the job.
In any case, staffing office representatives, mostly recruiters, will review the rankings and resumes and pass along the “best” candidates to the hiring managers. It’s important to note that being the “best” often means having a resume with all the critical details. If the information isn’t there, then the resume stands a far greater chance of being removed from the process.
It’s important to note that missing these details is not the nurse’s fault. Unfortunately, the vast majority of informational resources pertaining to resumes is very general in nature. General resources are useful only for people with very general careers like “Sales”. These resources are mostly useless for nurses. Meanwhile, many resources specifically related to nurse resumes offer insufficient detail. Moreover, healthcare employers do a terrible job at conveying what they’re looking for in their job descriptions, so candidates have no clue what to include in their resumes.
Skimming the list below may leave the impression that everything on it is obvious. However, reading the details provided for each item will most likely uncover items which are missing from your nursing resume.
What to Include on Your Nursing Resume
10. Professional Affiliations:
There are literally thousands of potential professional affiliations for nurses. In most cases, employers want to know if you belong to any. For example, if you belong to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses or the Emergency Nurses Association, then most employers would like to know this. Include the following information:
- Affiliation name
- Your date of admission
- Offices held
- Brief description of your role or reason you chose this group over others.
9. Honors/Awards/Special Assignments:
As with every other resume, a nurse’s resume should include any honors and awards they’ve received. Examples include honors and awards from school, work, volunteer work, professional affiliations, and even social clubs. Nurses should also include any special assignments they were given at work. Did you ever take charge duty? Did you do any scheduling or mentoring?
You may choose to place these items under their own heading. However, this isn’t necessary. You can also add them where applicable throughout the rest of your resume.
8. Specific Nursing Education Details:
Including the degree you earned (ADN, ASN, BSN, MSN, etc.) is a must. Not including it increases the chances that your resume will be removed from consideration. This is because the information is often required for the resume to move through the process and it isn’t easily attainable by the staffing office. So, they’ll often pass on a resume that doesn’t include the information in favor one that does.
Provide at least the following information about your education:
- Name of school
- Degree earned
- Beginning date
- Completion date
- City, and State
You might also consider adding a description that includes achievements, awards, scholarly organizations and activities, or your GPA if it was really high. Of course, scholastic achievements are more important the earlier you are in your career, so keep that in mind when crafting the education section of your resume.
Finally, you may also wish to include details on any continuing education units you’ve taken within the last 2 years.
Bonus: Are you bilingual? If so, be sure to include it on your resume! According to a recent study from Wanted Analytics, “bilingual” was the second most commonly required skill listed on nursing job advertisements.
7. Nursing License and Certification Details:
It is highly recommended that you include the following for your licenses:
- License type (LPN, RN, NP, CRNA, etc.)
- Licensing State/Body
- Name on license if different from name on resume
- License expiration date
- License number
- If the license is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, then state it clearly.
Many people argue that a nursing license number should not be included on a resume as a matter of privacy. However, nursing license numbers are a matter of public record. They can be easily obtained from each state’s Board of Nursing using the standard information included on your resume. Providing the license number simply makes the recruiter’s job easier. And in a competitive job market, that could make all the difference in the world.
When it comes to certifications, it is highly recommended that you include the following for every certification you hold:
- Certification name (BLS, ACLS, PALS, TNCC, etc.)
- Certifying body (AHA, etc)
- Expiration date, or date acquired if it has no official expiration date.
Unlike most professions, nursing is conducted round-the-clock. Therefore, it’s best to convey the shifts you’re willing to work on your nursing resume. Are you open to working 8, 10, and/or 12 hour shifts? Are you open to working Days, Mids, PMs, and/or Nocs?
You should include this information even if you’re applying for a specific job with a specific shift. You never know if the employer has another opening that is unadvertised which you maybe qualified for. Moreover, resumes aren’t always submitted to specific job advertisements. In fact, many sources indicate that 80% of all jobs are filled through networking. Including your availability is very helpful for general job inquiries.
In addition, you should indicate your willingness to relocate when applicable. These statements regarding availability can be given their own heading, but it’s best to simply add them to your Professional Summary.
5. Computer Experience:
The healthcare industry is going electronic. Paper charting will soon be a way of the past. It’s imperative to list any and all Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) experience you have. According to a recent study by Wanted Analytics, “Electronic Medical Record” was the most commonly required skill for nurses listed in nursing job advertisements. “Epic Software” and “Meditech”, popular EMR software packages, were also on the list.
Of course, billing codes are a big part of EMRs. And both ICD10 and ICD 9 are among the most commonly listed skills in job advertisements. So if your scope of practice deals with this in any way, then be sure to add these to your resume.
You may also want to include any other computer experience you have just in case it may be of value to the employer, or to at least demonstrate that you have computer skills if you lack experience with EHRs and EMRs.
4. Facility Type:
Signifying the type of facility you worked in tells the potential employer a ton about your experience with very few words. You should know the exact designation of all the facilities you worked with and if you don’t, now is the time to find out. Short term acute care? Long Term Care? Long Term Acute Care? Senior Nursing Facility?
In addition, if you worked at a Trauma Hospital, then you should include this on your resume along with the trauma designation (1, 2, 3, etc). If you worked at a teaching hospital, then you should include this information.
Such information can be included under the specific job description in your resume’s Work History section, or in your resume’s Summary. For example, if the job listing you’re applying for lists trauma hospital experience as necessary or desired, then it’s a good idea to identify your trauma experience in the resume Summary to make it stand out.
3. Number of Beds:
Include the number of total beds at the facilities you worked at, as well as the number of beds in the specific units on which you worked. Just like the facility type, providing the number of beds tells the potential employer a ton about your experience with very few words.
2. Unit Type:
We regularly saw resumes that listed things like “3 West” as the unit. Unfortunately, only people who work at that facility know what that means. Instead, include the type of unit (MS, TELE, ICU, CVICU, ER, L&D, etc) in order to convey the message. We can’t stress enough how important this is.
Also include your caseload. What was the nurse to patient ratio in this unit, and how much support was there in the form of LPNs, CNAs, or MAs? Include any other unit specific details as well. Did the unit take trauma patients? Did the unit routinely deal with overflow from other units? If so, what types of patients were seen from overflow?
1. Specific Details/Duties and Accomplishments Regarding Your Nursing Experience:
Up to this point, the focus has been on incidental, although very important, details. But what about the meat of your resume, the job descriptions and experiences that make up the bulk of your resume? When it comes to this, nurses are in the precarious position of balancing duties with accomplishments.
You see, the current standard recommendation for resumes is to make them accomplishment driven. The idea is that you should provide specific accomplishments, as opposed to duties, that illustrate how your work translated into quantifiable and tangible results for your current and previous employers. Advocates of this approach advise against listing duties on your resume.
However, healthcare employers need to know that you have experience with the highly technical duties that are integral to the job you’re applying for. At the same time, they too want to know about your accomplishments. Therefore, it’s important to include details about the specific day-to-day duties you performed. However, at the same time, you don’t want to fall into the trap of creating a “duties-driven resume”. Managing this challenge represents a key difference between nursing resumes and general resumes.
Considerations for Duties
Before we continue, it’s best to address the 800 pound gorilla in this conversation. Nurses sometimes have hundreds of duties and responsibilities. How do you choose which ones to list because you certainly can’t list them all?
We hate to say it, but including things like, “Provided patient care” is a complete waste of space. It’s simply too general. Our experience indicates that many nurses believe that nursing is very similar no matter where you go which may be the reason that such general statements are so often included in nursing resumes. In reality, the differences are stark between various facilities. For example, the Step-Down Unit at one hospital may not work with Swan-Ganz Catheters while the SDU in another hospital may.
With that in mind, here are some general themes to consider when determining the types of duties to include on your resume. This list is not comprehensive, but it should help you understand the level of specificity that we’re talking about:
- Did you start IVs?
- Did you administer medications? Which medications?
- What type of patients did you care for? Renal? Cardiovascular? Neuro? Ortho? Rehab?
- What was the age range of the patient population you cared for?
- What specific equipment do you have experience with? Did you read strips? Work with vents? Trachs? Balloon pumps? Swan-Ganz? da Vinci Surgical System?
- Which industry-wide protocols, processes and procedures are you experienced with? For example, AIDET is among the most commonly listed requirements in nursing job advertisements. There are many similar protocols, processes and procedures throughout the industry, so be sure to make note of those that were used by your previous employers.
Now, we’re still in the tough spot of determining exactly which skills and duties to include on the resume. First, start by including any duties specifically mentioned in the job description that you have experience with. Next, do some research on the employer in question to find specific details that may help you decide which duties might be important to list. Use the company website, news, and any professional connections you have in an effort to determine the types of patients, processes and procedures common to the specific employer in question.
Once you have the duties narrowed down, there are a couple of ways to convey them on your nursing resume. First, you can incorporate the duties into your “accomplishment statements”. We discuss this approach below.
Second, you can simply list out the duties. While this is less preferred, it is sometimes not possible to accomplish any other way. Your summary is a good place for this. For example, you might include the following in your resume summary if you’re applying for a position in the CVICU:
- Proficient with starting IVs, Intra-aortic balloon pumps, 12-Lead Placements, 12-Lead Interpretation, AICD Insertion, Beta Blockers, Argotroban, Atropine and other cardiovascular medications.
Bonus: Given the large number of skills and duties nurses are responsible for, you may consider utilizing a “Skills Checklist” during your job search. Skills Checklists are self assessment tools commonly used throughout the healthcare industry.
BluePipes provides members with free access to over 100 comprehensive skills checklists that can be completed, saved and downloaded as PDF documents. You can view a sample here. They’re a great way to convey your skills to potential employers. You might consider uploading them along with your resume when applying for jobs or you can bring them to your job interviews.
Considerations for Accomplishments
Now that we’ve covered duties, let’s take a look at accomplishments. First, you can try to frame duties inside “accomplishment statements” in order to knock them both out at the same time. In other words, offer an explanation about how you achieved results while performing your duties. Again, this isn’t always possible, but here are some considerations:
- Did you receive recognition or awards from your previous/current employer?
- Did your previous/current employer receive recognition or rewards?
- How did performing your duties contribute to that?
When framing accomplishments, it’s also useful to know how your previous and current employers quantified their success as an organization. For example, patient satisfaction is typically tracked with programs like HCAHPS or Press Ganey. Did your employer experience improvements with such indicators? How did performing your duties influence that?
Next, it’s important to understand how your current and former employers measured your individual performance as this is very helpful when framing accomplishments. Nearly every healthcare employer conducts employee evaluations. Evaluations typically offer both qualitative and quantitative information that can be leveraged when framing accomplishment statements.
Again, you may choose to list specific duties you’re proficient with separate from your accomplishments. Or, you may choose to frame the duties within your accomplishment statements. Or you may choose a combination of the two approaches. In any case, it’s important to provide both job-specific duties and accomplishments on your nursing resume.
Bonus: Healthcare is very diverse. Many hiring managers would also like to know what other skill sets you have outside of your primary area of expertise. Did you float to the ER or L&D units when needed? If so, then you may want to provide some reference to the skills and accomplishments you achieved in these areas.
General perspective on nursing resumes
This may seem like a ton of information to incorporate into a standard resume. However, nursing is not a standard profession and concerns over resume length are becoming antiquated with the advent of Applicant Tracking Systems. Moreover, the push to force nursing and healthcare resumes to conform to the standard format that serves general professionals, like salespeople, is a disservice to both healthcare professionals and employers. Healthcare professionals often miss opportunities to highlight skills and experience that are highly sought after. As a result, healthcare employers often miss out on perfect candidates.
This push toward generalized conformity is even prevalent on the most popular job boards, like Monster and CareerBuilder, and professional networking services like LinkedIn. Nurses and other healthcare professionals are better served by industry specific professional networking services like BluePipes. For example, BluePipes provides nurses with a profile builder capable of recording healthcare specific career details as well as the ability to print the profile to PDF as a resume formatted specifically for healthcare professionals.
So it’s like a cloud based resume service. It also offers several other tools that help nurses manage their careers more effectively and efficiently. As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated. Please let us know what you think by posting a comment!