Nursing is one of the most in-demand occupations today. Even in this difficult economic period, new health care jobs are cropping up every month. For example, according to the Department of Labor’s latest Employment Situation report, 44,000 health care positions were added in the U.S. in September.
However, that does not give you an excuse to become complacent. Just because health care jobs are out there doesn’t mean one will drop into your lap. You still have to market yourself, and that means having an excellent nursing resume that includes the skills hiring managers want to see.
First, please read our general article on how to write a resume. Your nursing resume should include all of the items mentioned in that article.
Additionally, here are 4 specific items your nursing resume should include:
1. Licensing and certification details.
We said this to the accountants in our accounting resume article and we’ll say it again to the nurses: no one is going to assume you are certified. Your future employer will not just suppose you are a registered nurse because you apply for an RN position. People apply for jobs for which they are not qualified all the time.
So, specifically mention your relevant certifications in a “licenses” or “certifications” section on your nursing resume. Include any licenses or certifications that are relevant to the position for which you are applying.
For example, if you are a Registered Nurse, you could still include your Licensed Practical Nursing information or your Emergency Medical Technician licensing information. Do not use abbreviations.
For each license, include the state in which it was issued. You should also include either the year in which it was issued or the year in which it will expire. You may also choose to include your license number, when applicable.
2. Leadership capabilities, teamwork skills, and ethics knowledge.
Nurse educator Beverly Hansen OMalley, author of the Dimensional curriculum for practical nursing, has identified teamwork, leadership, and ethics knowledge as several of the most vital skills to mention on a nursing resume.
“Anything on the resume that shows leadership and independent decision making should be highlighted,” said Beverly OMalley in an interview with resume writing expert Richard Lindsey.
According to OMalley, leadership skills are essential, as nurses often need to work autonomously with little direction in a hospital setting.
She also said that collaborative capabilities are “highly valued and necessary” for nurses. Therefore, your nursing resume should emphasize any experience you’ve had working with physical therapists, physicians, pharmacists, and other nurses.
Finally, she said that a nursing resume should highlight knowledge of ethics or ethics courses taken. On her website, OMalley explained that nurses face many different types of ethical dilemmas on a regular basis and need to come to work prepared to handle them.
3. Relevant continuing education information.
Continuing education courses are a necessity for nurses, so a well-written nursing resume should certainly include those that are relevant to the desired position.
Of course, the focus should be on continuing education courses that pertain to the position for which you are applying. They do not have to be directly related as long as they are relevant to the position or the skills mentioned in the job ad.
According to OMalley, continuing education experiences should go in their own section, not under the “education” or “experience” section.
“Practice standards state that the RN must keep up to date,” said OMalley, “so this is considered professional development. Upgrading to a degree would be education.”
Moving continuing education experiences to a “continuing education” section can also emphasize your initiative.
“If you put it in the section of employment history and experience then it looks like it was the employer’s idea,” she said, “not yours.”
4. Technical skills.
Again, make it clear on your nursing resume that you are qualified for the job you’re trying to get.
OMalley recommended emphasizing physical assessment skills, such as:
- Chest assessments
- Peripheral pulses
- Neurological assessments
She also said to include knowledge of common work equipment, such as:
- Doppler machines (for taking a patient’s peripheral pulse)
- IV pumps
- Saline locks
- Central lines
Obviously, if a job ad mentions needing to know any specific skills and you have those skills, you should include them on your nursing resume. It would also be helpful to point them out in your cover letter.
A final piece of advice for your nursing resume…
Your nursing resume determines the first impression you will make upon the hiring staff at your future hospital or doctor’s office. A well-written nursing resume makes it clear that you are qualified for the job for which you are applying. Hiring staff will not assume you are a properly certified, up-to-date nurse with relevant people skills and technical skills if you don’t tell them.
Like a good nurse, your nursing resume needs to be able to communicate hefty chunks of information quickly yet effectively. A focused, efficient, carefully-written nursing resume reflects a focused, efficient, careful nurse.