Travel Nursing Podcast

TTATN 032: How To Write An Amazing Travel Nursing Resume

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Hey everyone! Welcome to The Truth About Travel Nursing Podcast. This is Kyle Schmidt and I’m your host. Thanks so much for joining us for episode 32 of the podcast. In this episode, we’re going to discuss everything travel nurses need to know about resumes. Specifically, we’re going to discuss the unique nature of travel nursing resumes and how you can create a truly awesome travel nursing resume. We’re also going to take a look at what you need to know about handling your travel nursing experience on your nursing resume when you make the transition back to permanent employment. [ Please note: This is the transcript of a Podcast. As such, it is not edited as written content. ]

Travel Nursing Resumes Are Unique

Okay, so the first thing we’re going to do is take a look at the unique nature of travel nursing resumes. We’re going to start here because if we were to start by discussing what you should include on your travel nursing resume, then you’d have tons of questions. You might even think I was crazy with all the recommendations.

And that’s because travel nursing resumes and the circumstances surrounding them are really unique. I mean, even standard nursing resumes are unique and we’ll discuss that later in the episode. In any case, the bottom line is that the standard resume rules do not apply. And that’s one of the biggest problems with the travel nursing resumes that agencies receive. The resumes almost always conform to the general standards we all know. And what that means for the agency and the travel nursing recruiter is that they rarely get the information they need out of a resume.

Your Travel Nursing Resume May Never Go To The Hospital

So, with that in mind let’s take a look at some of these unique circumstances. First, remember that we discussed travel nursing applicant tracking systems in our last episode, Episode 31. In that episode, I mentioned that the resume you send to the travel nursing agency rarely if ever gets sent to the hospital. Instead, the applicant tracking system used by the agency will typically generate a resume based on the information you enter in the online application.

So, you might be wondering why you even need a resume for travel nursing. I mean, what’s the point if it doesn’t get sent to the hospital? Well, as we discussed in Episode 31, if you have a really great travel nursing resume, then it can make it much easier for you to onboard with a new agency. There are several reasons for this.

3 Reasons To Have A Great Travel Nursing Resume

First, the recruiter you send your resume to may be willing to enter all the data into their applicant tracking system so that you don’t have to. Remember, some recruiters are willing to do this and others aren’t. There are many experienced travel nurses out there who swear that they never fill out job applications and I believe them. They simply send their resume with all the details. If a recruiter requires an application, the traveler simply moves on to the next recruiter or agency.

Now, the second reason that having a thorough travel nursing resume can make it easier for you to onboard is that the recruiter may think your resume is so good that they’re willing to submit it to the hospital if there is a major time crunch to get your profile submitted. You see, in some cases, the agency my feel the need to get your profile submitted so quickly that they’re willing to forgo the application just to get you in front of the hospital. While this is rare, it happens often enough that there is a good chance you run into the scenario.

So, for example, they may pitch you on a hot assignment that you might be interested in. And maybe you tell them that you want to be submitted. If there is a big enough sense of urgency for the position, they’ll just take your resume and your skills checklist and send it right over. That way, you don’t have to fill out the job application unless you actually get the job offer.

And the third way that having a thorough travel nursing resume can make it easier for you to onboard is that even if you end up having to fill out an online job application, having all of the required data on hand will make it much easier for you to get it done. Moreover, it will ensure that it gets done correctly and as quickly as possible. And this is really important and here’s why.

For starters, there is tons of information that you’ll need to keep track of if you travel for very long at all. The more traveling you do, the more data you’ll have to keep track of. As you fill out applications moving forward, it will become very difficult without all of that data handy. You’ll end up piecing things together and having to do tons of research to gather all the information.

Now, on a side note, having all this information available isn’t just important for your travel nursing career; it’s also important if you ever intend to go perm again. Many hospitals will require much of the same information once you actually get a job offer. In fact, some hospitals require their candidates to provide all of the employer details they require, whatever those may be, for every single hospital that the candidate has worked with over the last 7 to 10 years.

In other words, it’s not going to be enough to just say, “I worked with agency X.” These hospitals want to know the information for the hospitals, not the agency. I can’t tell you the number of times that my former travelers would call and ask for details regarding the hospitals they worked with while they were traveling with me because they needed the details for a permanent employment opportunity. It happened quite often. That said, you may never run into this issue, but it’s just good to be prepared when you do run into it.

Okay, so another reason that it’s important to get this information entered quickly on your travel nursing applications is that entering the required information on your own will ensure that the recruiter has everything they need so they can get you submitted more quickly. In the cases when you do fill out an application, entering all the information will ensure that the recruiter doesn’t have to go out and do a bunch of research to find what they need. They won’t have to call you and ask for the details they need, which you may or may not have.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking that’s the recruiter’s job; why shouldn’t they be doing that? Well, that’s fine, but it will most certainly delay your profile getting set up, which will delay your being submitted for any jobs that you’re interested in. So ultimately, it could cause some missed opportunities.

Okay, so those are the ways that having a great travel nursing resume can be beneficial. Again, a great resume might prompt the recruiter to fill in the data for you so that you can avoid completing their whole application. Or, the recruiter may just use your awesome resume to get you submitted. This is rare, but it does happen. And finally, having all this data available will be a huge help when you have to fill out these applications on your own. As a result, you’ll end up spending less time and you’ll be able to get submitted more quickly.

Length Does Not Matter For Travel Nursing Resumes

Now, the next unique thing to consider when it comes to travel nursing resumes is the length. Simply put, LENGTH DOES NOT MATTER! I cannot stress this enough. And I know how difficult it is to let go of the length issue. I mean, the first rule of resumes that you typically hear people provide is, “Be sure it all fits on one page.”

Now, for starters, the one page rule is antiquated even for general resumes. It really depends on the situation you’re in. I mean, if you’re at a job fair, which most nurses won’t be, or maybe at a convention, which is much more realistic for nurses and other healthcare professionals, then having a one page resume is a good idea. It’s easy to hand out. But when you’re submitting online applications, the length of your resume is not all that big of a deal. Everyone from Forbes to Careerealism and other career related authorities attest to that. And we’ll link to those sites  on the show notes page so you can see what we’re talking about.

When it comes to travel nursing resumes, length definitely does not matter. As I mentioned in episode 31, the applicant tracking systems that agencies use generate resumes that are massive. I wish I could show one to you. They use huge fonts and there is tons of space between the lines and sections. There are page-breaks all over the place. I mean, it’s pretty common for a typical one page resume to take up two to three pages once the information has been entered into the applicant tracking system.

So again, the most important thing is to get all the data onto your resume. Don’t worry about how long it is.

Unconventional Information On Travel Nursing Resumes

Okay, so another unique circumstance with travel nursing resumes has to do with the information that you’ll be including on them. Some of the information that you’ll want to include will be information that is actually recommended against being provided on normal resumes. And here again, you just have to abandon the standard recommendations for resumes.

What To Include On A Travel Nursing Resume

So, with all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the details you should include on your travel nursing resume.  Now, I have a list of 33 items that you’re going to want to include and that doesn’t count the obvious like your name, address and contact information. You don’t have to write everything down here. Remember, we’ll have the transcript up on the show notes page. And I’ll also link to a blog post titled 33 Items To Include On Your Travel Nursing Resume on the show notes page. And we’ll also link to all our blog posts that deal with Travel Nursing Resumes and general nursing resumes as well.

Licenses And Certifications On Your Travel Nursing Resume

Okay, so let’s start with information pertaining to your licenses and certifications. You should have a heading specifically for Licenses and Certifications on your travel nursing resume. Under it, you should include the following.

First, list EVERY license and certification you have by their correct significations. For example, call it an “RN License”, not a “Nursing License”. How is the reviewer supposed to know whether you have an RN or an LPN license if it’s called a “Nursing License”? This is an example that I saw quite frequently when I was recruiting.

And again, be sure to list everything you have, even obscure things that you think may not be worth listing. For example, if you have a Crisis Prevention Certification from CPI, then list it. List anything. I mean, sometimes folks think that hospitals are only interested in the standard things like ACLS and BLS, but it’s quite common that they’re looking for other certifications as well. Moreover, your recruiter might not think to ask if you have any other certifications if you don’t list them. Sure, this would be a rookie mistake on the recruiter’s part, but it happens.

Second, be sure to list the license or certification number if applicable; some licenses and certifications have them and others don’t. And the one that always gets asked about is the RN license. I’ve seen tons of people claim that Nursing license numbers are a privacy issue. And while I certainly understand the concern, that’s simply not the case.

Nursing license numbers are a matter of public record. Anybody can look up an RN license number on the state board of nursing’s website with just a name. And of course, you’re certainly going to provide your name on the resume.

In fact, when the license number isn’t included on the resume, the recruiter will almost certainly need to look it up. This is because hospitals often require the license number to be present in the submission profile. They also require a copy of the license verification that can be printed off the state board’s website. They require this to ensure that the candidate is licensed and that there are no disciplinary actions registered with the state.

So, basically, including the license number just makes it much easier for the recruiter to get the profile submitted. It’s much easier to look your license up by license number than by name, especially if you have a common name. There could be multiple people with the same name. In which case, the recruiter would have to also use the address as a secondary verification. And, you know, this could just lead to confusion. I mean, they may confuse you with someone else, and maybe that someone else has disciplinary actions. So, it’s always best to include the license number, again, it’s a matter of public record anyway.

Okay, so the third item you’ll want to list for each license or certification you have is the licensing or certifying body. Again, this is important because most hospitals will accept certifications from only specific licensing bodies. One of the common ones is the American Heart Association. So, most hospitals won’t accept a BLS from the American Red Cross for example. Because they have this requirement, many of them want to see exactly which body your certifications and licenses are through.

The fourth thing you want to include for your licenses and certifications are the expiration dates. Here again, many hospitals require this detail to be present in the submission profile, so it should be included on your travel nursing resume. Now, if there is no expiration, then list the date that the license or certification was obtained.

Finally, if you have a compact nursing license, then you should clearly state it. Just in case you’re not aware, certain states are part of what’s called the Nurse Licensure Compact. If you obtain a compact license from one of these states then you can practice in all the compact states and there are currently 24 or 25 states that participate.

Now, many folks who reside in compact states and therefore have a compact license are not aware that it’s possible to be licensed in a compact state and not actually qualify for compact status. You see, in order to qualify for compact status, you have to reside in the state. You have to establish residency and declare it your resident state. So, for that reason, it’s a good to indicate if your license is compact. Simply write “Compact” in parentheses in the license description.

List Specialties On Travel Nursing Resumes

Okay, so that’s what you’ll want to include for your licenses and certifications. The next thing you’ll want to do is to clearly state your specialty or specialties if you have multiple. Here again, I recommend a separate heading for this. Call it Specialty or Specialties if you have multiple. Simply write the specialty acronym and full name and include the number of years of experience you have.

Now, you could get a little creative here and include some of the more specialized skills you’ve picked up here. For example, you might list that you have experience with swan ganz if you’re a StepDown nurse. But, this isn’t really necessary because remember, your profile will almost certainly include a skills checklist where all these details will be included.

How To Display Work History On Your Travel Nursing Resume

Okay, so the next section we’re going to look at is your work history. Now, this is a big one with tons of different variables including some that run totally contrary to conventional resume recommendations. Again though, travel nursing is unique. So, under your work experience, you want to include the following details for each job you’ve held.

First, you’ll want to write out hospital’s full official name. While this may sound like common sense, many hospitals go by shortened nicknames and it’s really common for travelers to use that name. The problem is that it makes it very difficult for those not in the know to look up the hospital if they need to. It’s also unprofessional. It’s best to always use the full official name.

Second, be sure to include your official job title. Again, this one might seem obvious, but if so, you’d be surprised often it’s left off of resumes.

Third, you want to include the exact start and end dates. So, for example, you’re going to make it 4/4/2008 not 4/2008. Listing the month alone doesn’t cut it for some hospitals. In fact, there are some hospitals that require a description for what was going on during any gap of employment of more than 30 days. If it’s 29 days, they don’t care, but for 30 or more, they want an explanation. I know this sounds crazy, but that’s what agencies are dealing with. So, be sure to list the exact dates.

Fourth, list the details pertaining to the type of facility or hospital you worked at. For example, was it a Short Term Acute Care Facility, Long Term Acute Care, Children’s Hospital, Women’s Hospital, Surgery Center, or whatever? Also, was it a teaching hospital? If so, you should clearly indicate that. Next, if it was a trauma hospital, then state that and include the trauma level. Finally, you’ll want to include the number of beds in the entire facility.

Okay, so fifth, you’re going to want to include some specific information about the units you worked in at each hospital. Of course, you’re going to want to include the unit you worked in. And it’s important to use the specialty of the unit, not what the unit was called at the hospital. For example, use MedSurg, or ICU as opposed to 4 West or 3 East. Nobody outside the hospital knows what those hospital specific unit names mean and employers want to know about the units you worked.

Next, include the number of beds in the unit. And if the unit took trauma patients, then clearly state that. Also, include your typical caseload or the nurse to patient ratio that you were working with.

Okay, so sixth, list some of your specific duties. This is basically the job description part of it. And be sure to provide specifics as opposed to generalizations. For example, “Worked with Swan Ganz” instead of “provided patient care”. You know, you can include the patient types, like Neuro, Cardiac, Rehab, and stuff like that. You could include the patient age range. And, if you took Charge duty, then clearly list it. And that’s a big one actually. Many hospitals really want to know if you have ever taken Charge Duty…so much so that they’ll sometimes ask specifically if you have.

Okay, so the seventh thing to include would be the types of computer and/or charting systems you used. You can list these in a separate heading if you want, that’s how we do it on our BluePipes resume. Or, you could include them in each job description.

Now, the eighth thing to include when it comes to your work experience is definitely contrary to the conventional resume recommendations. You’re going to want to include your supervisor name and contact number if the supervisor can be contacted. And you’ll also want to include reference names, job titles, and contact information as well.

Now, finally, you’re going to want to include the employment type for each employer. Was it a perm position, PRN, or a travel assignment? If it was a travel assignment, then list the agency’s name and contact information as well.

Now, you may be wondering why in the heck you need to include some of these details. Well, most of them are required by one hospital or another. And some of them, like the references and supervisors, are needed by the agency so they can get their work done. For example, the agency needs to check your references before they can submit your profile.

In any case, these are all details that agencies will ask for on their applications. And our goal with our travel nursing resume is include everything that the agency needs so that we can minimize our time with the onboarding process and hopefully increase the speed with which we get submitted so that we stand a better chance of landing the jobs that we want.

Education On Your Travel Nursing Resume

Okay, so the next heading you’ll want to include on your resume will be for your education. And in this section, you’re going to include the following for each education institution that was a part of your nursing degree: the institution’s full official name, the full address, the telephone number, the dates of attendance, and the name of the degree you achieved. And this last one is important. Many hospitals want to know whether you have an ASN or a BSN and they may pass on the profile if they don’t see this information.

Extra Items To Include On Your Travel Nursing Resume

Okay, so the last things that we’re going to discuss for inclusion on your travel nursing resume are basically some miscellaneous items. For example, you’re going to want to include any professional affiliations and any professional honors and awards you’ve received. And finally, you’re going to want to include any gaps in employment of 30 days or more with a brief description of what you were doing at the time.

Now, I know a lot of these things sound strange. However, remember our goal. We want to get everything they need and require to them on our resume in order to minimize the time we spend onboarding and maximize our speed to submission to improve our chances at landing the jobs.

And of course, you’re welcome to leave some of these details off if you want. It’s your resume after all. But, don’t be surprised if someone calls you to get the information at some point or another.

Use BluePipes To Create A Travel Nursing Resume

And look, I know this is a ton of information. But again, it’s all required by someone somewhere. And if you don’t want to deal with remembering all of this or formatting your resume with all of this stuff, then you can always use BluePipes. It’s free and easy. Your profile will help you recognize and record all of these details and it will generate an awesome resume and job application.

And one of the cool things is that with BluePipes, the standard resume items will be on the resume and the standard job application items will be on the job application. So, you can actually maintain a somewhat normal looking resume, but still provide all the information they need. For example, the references and supervisors would be included on your BluePipes job application, but not on your resume. And of course, you can also use the skills checklists and all the other document management tools to help you simplify your travel healthcare career. And all of that is free for you as a healthcare professional.

Listing Your Travel Nursing Experience On Your Nursing Resume

Okay, so that’s how you can create a resume that really knocks ‘em dead when it comes to travel nursing. But, what do you do with your resume if and when you want to return to permanent nursing? This is actually a really tough issue to address. For starters, travel nursing assignments could be confused with short term employment, which is a big problem or red flag for employers. They’ll think you can’t hold down a job.

However, at the same time, you’ve gained all this awesome experience that would be great to highlight on your resume because it will make you really stand out from the crowd. I mean, you’ll probably have worked at some totally amazing hospitals by the time you’re done travel nursing and you’ll have picked up tons of amazing experience that you’ll really to describe.

So, I don’t think there is any one correct way to do this. But let’s take a look at some of the potential ways that you can handle it and talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

First, you could prominently list the hospitals in your work history. The advantage is that you’ll get to display all that awesome experience. The disadvantage is that your resume might turn out to be too long. I mean, even though it’s okay to have a resume that’s longer than 1 or even longer than two pages, there is a limit to everything. I mean, 7 pages is probably pushing it, right?

Also, you technically didn’t work for the hospitals. You worked for the agencies. So listing it this way isn’t entirely correct. I think that these problems pretty much mean that you shouldn’t be doing it this way.

So, the second option is that you could list the agencies you worked for prominently. Basically, you would just list the agencies that you worked for, the dates of employment you worked with them and provide the details for the agencies. Then, you might right a blurb or some bullet points about your experiences with them.

The advantage is that this is technically correct; the agencies were in fact your employers. Also, it could make it look like you had more stable employment. However, a potential disadvantage is that you may have worked with multiple agencies during your time as a traveler, and maybe you bounced back and forth between several agencies, so if you listed the agencies as your employers, then it might still look like you engaged in short term employment and you might still end up with a resume that’s too long. And finally, you don’t get the opportunity to really highlight all that awesome experience.

Okay, so the third way you can list your travel nursing experience on your resume is to put it all under one heading and call it Travel Nursing or Travel Nurse, or something like that. So, basically, you’d just put Travel Nurse, from this date to that date and then write a description.

Obviously, this lets you shorten it up quite a bit and I think that’s the real advantage here. However, it’s technically not correct. I mean you’re not necessarily providing your actual employers. Also, you’re not citing much of that awesome experience you gained. I feel like it just kind-of glosses over your travel nursing experience.

But, that said, this is the approach that is recommended by Donna Cardillo. If you’ve not heard of Donna she is a popular nursing career advisor and speaker. She writes for nurse.com which is owned by CareerBuilder and she has her own blog. We’ll link to the article in the show notes that you can review it yourself.

Now, the last option for listing your travel nursing experience on your nursing resume is to list the agencies as your employers, and then list each assignment that you worked for the agency under the agency’s heading. This is actually the way that you should be doing it on your travel nursing resume and it’s also an option for your permanent nursing resume as well.

And moreover, this is the way that the BluePipes profile builder is set up too. Our profile asks if the job you’re entering was an agency job, and if so, you can enter your assignments for that agency. Then, the system will nest those assignments under the agency heading.

Obviously, the disadvantage is that your resume could be really long. Again, not a problem for travel nursing, but the jury is out for permanent nursing. It sort-of handles the problem of short-term-employment, but if you bounced around to many different agencies, then the resume will still look choppy.

But there are several advantages as well. For starters, it’s technically correct. In fact, it’s perfectly accurate this way. It also allows you to highlight all that amazing experience you gained.

Okay, so those are the options you have. It’ll be up to you to decide what to do and everyone’s circumstances might be different. The longer you work as a traveler, the more agencies you work with, the more hospitals you work with, all of these things could affect your decision here. In any case, you should still be able to use the BluePipes resume builder for your permanent resume. In fact, we have thousands of nurses doing that. It’s actually really flexible, you just have to play around with it a little.

Okay, so that’s a really good place wrap up this episode. We’ve covered a lot of information about creating an awesome travel nursing resume and some considerations for putting that experience on your permanent nursing resume. I hope that the information we covered will help you manage your travel nursing career easier and more efficiently and help you land your most desired travel nursing jobs.

As always, we’ll have links to everything we discussed in the episode along with the transcript of the show up on the show note page. The link is blog.bluepipes.com/episode32. You can also leave any questions or comments there and I’ll gladly address them.

I want to thank you so much for listening to the podcast. You make all of this possible. And if you’ve been enjoying this podcast, then I would greatly appreciate it if you would provide us with a review on whatever platform you’re listening through. Whether it’s iTunes or stitcher or any other platform, it really goes a long way toward helping us move up in the rankings so we can get this information out to more travelers and keep the show going.

Again, thanks so much for listening and until next time, have a safe and prosperous travel healthcare adventure.

Links:

How Long Should a Resume Be – Careerealism

Forbes On Resume Length

Donna Cardillo on Travel Nursing Experience on Resume 

Sample Travel Nursing Resume – Free Template

Critical Details for Your Travel Nurse Resume

33 Items to Include on Your Travel Nursing Resume

6 Nursing Resume Considerations for Travel Nurses Transitioning to Permanent

Nursing Resume Length and Feedback on Resume Details

Sample Nursing Resume – RN Resume

Travel Nursing Resume Length

Nursing Resume Objective or Summary?

How to Write an Effective Nursing Resume Summary

Top 10 Details to Include on a Nursing Resume

16 Tips for Your Nursing Resume and Applicant Tracking Systems

How to Write an Exceptional New-Grad Nursing Resume

9 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Nursing Resume

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