Nursing resume writing isn’t incredibly different from any other professional career. You should highlight your strengths and accomplishments, while identifying key elements that make you perfect for the job you’re applying for. But, if it was truly that simple, we’d have no unemployed nurses.
One of the most unfortunate trends occurring among newly graduated nursing students, and those reentering the workforce, isn’t workplace behavior or unfounded pay expectations. Rather, it’s how nursing professionals approach the marketplace.
Throughout the past several years, the media has bombarded potential nursing students with the glorious words, “Unprecedented Job Growth!”
For anyone who’s tying to break into any industry, this is the golden ticket they’ve been waiting to uncover. While this is incredibly true, such phrasing causes an unfortunate chain reaction. As countless unemployed, or underemployed, nursing professionals have already experienced, simply because an industry is hungry for workers doesn’t mean it’s a breeze to snag a stellar position.
Perhaps the most common reason why so many nurses find themselves sitting in their living room filling out applications and writing cover letters, when they should be in a medical facility changing lives and boosting the healthcare system, is because they simply don’t understand the intricacies of writing a nursing resume.
If you’re searching for a way to quickly and easily make your nursing resume stand out from the crowd, then you’ve come to the right place. The following guide is curated with the latest tips and advice from healthcare professionals. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to separate yourself from the competition and secure a rewarding, challenging and dynamic position in your field of choice: nursing.
Tip #1 – Defining Yourself as a Brand
Okay, this may seem strange, but before you skip over this tip take a moment and really think about it. You, yes you, are a brand. You are wholly unique and offer something no other nurse can. Sure, you’re capable of performing the standard duties and meeting the required expectations this position requires, but it’s not that you CAN do it, it’s HOW you do it.
Imagine sifting through hundreds of resumes. While some stand out from others, the majority simply read as if they’re carbon copies of a monotone and lifeless nursing robot. The primary purpose of a resume, some even consider it the cornerstone of this self-marketing tool, is highlighting your unique personalty.
Think of your nursing resume as an advertisement, and the product it’s selling is you!
Just like any advertisement, you must intrigue the intended reader. You must provide the essential details they need to know, but do so without sounding like you simply copied-and-pasted a resume sample from the internet.
With your resume, you need to capture the readers attention in only a few sentences. According to several Human Resources studies, the majority of recruiters and hiring managers don’t actually read a resume. Instead, they scan its sentences looking for keywords and phrases. If enough of these keywords pop out, then they return and give the resume a deeper investigation.
Therefore, think of ways to make your resume stand out (no, we’re not talking about using crazy fonts or a GIF of a cat eating a banana, but if you find one, it could actually work). Instead, think of the position you’re applying for and how your resume can be tailored to fit its requirements by highlighting your relevant experience (such as “worked as a CNA“, etc) and transferable skills.
This brings us to the next point…
Tip #2 – Research, Research and Research Again
As with any marketing campaign, research forms the backbone of advertisements. Without thoroughly researching a prospective job opportunity, you’re robbing yourself of unique talking points and resume tweaks capable of landing you a job interview.
Instead of diving deep into the concept of researching a prospective employer, simply answer the following questions:
- Who is the company and what’s their position within the healthcare industry?
- What is the overall personality and culture of this employer?
- What are their pain points? These are problems and issues they want solved by filling the position you’re applying for.
- What are the qualities they will find most useful and what will they find most attractive in a potential candidate?
By answering these questions, you’re able to not only refine your resume bullet points, but also construct a cover letter that perfectly highlights your direct and indirect experience. Employers aren’t looking for the perfect candidate who’s already done everything they require. Instead, they’re searching for an employee capable of handling the tasks of the job and elevating the efficiency and quality of their entire department.
So, how do you research a company? Thanks to the internet, it’s actually quite easy. Here are several unique and impactful tips for researching a potential employer:
- Review their company website and blog. Take notes regarding your impression of the company, their mission statements and how you think you’ll assist in achieving these goals.
- Check out their social media pages. Don’t be afraid to cyberstalk the company. Thoroughly review their post history and see how they engage with viewers. What do they post about? Are they concerned about the state of the entire healthcare industry or are they focused on a specific niche topic?
- Do a complete review of their LinkedIn page to understand their company culture and position within the industry. Is this company actively involved in any related organizations? Take a few moments and check out other employees linked to their LinkedIn company page.
Ultimately, social media profiles and website content can give you an intimate glimpse into the company. Leverage this information to refine your resume so it highlights your ability to seamlessly weave into their established personality. If possible, align yourself to showcase how your experience and aspirations are capable of boosting their performance and cultural goals.
Tip #3 – Compile Your Nursing Resume for the Robot Revolution
Think we’re still decades away from robots determining your future? You better think again.
With over 75% of employers using a resume “reading” technology known as Applicant Tracking Software, or ATS, even being considered for a position has become a battle between man and machine.
Instead of actually reading a resume, ATS scans online resume submissions for specific keywords and phrases. While this may seem similar to what a human does, it’s completely different. Instead of comprehending what your resume says, ATS simply collects data and determines whether or not you’re a potential fit for a position based upon its findings.
Therefore, it’s imperative that you clearly state explicit experience points and capabilities throughout your nursing resume. After thoroughly reviewing the job posting, use its primary keywords and phrases as a guide for rewriting your resume. Along with constructing the content of your resume so it’s easily aggregated by this controversial algorithm, make sure you clearly state your qualifications.
For example, if the job posting states that applicants are required to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, explicitly state this in your nursing resume. If you fail to do this, even if you hold a degree, the ATS algorithm may dump your resume in the disqualifying statement category.
While it’s impossible to fully know whether or not an employer uses ATS, and to what degree it plays if they do implement this technology, it’s a solid choice to include as much vital and qualifying statements as possible.
Still confused about crafting a resume to comply with ATS algorithms? Here are a few tips to help streamline this process:
- Refine your resume to target the position by identifying keywords, required skills, education requirements, experience desires and overall competencies. Highlight each of these throughout your resume.
- Craft a Professional Summary at the top of your resume that includes the primary keywords and core competencies of the position as it relates to your experience. Highlight your education within this 2 to 5 sentence blurb.
- Only apply to positions were you are a 100% match when it comes to their required qualifications. This not only simplifies rewriting your resume, but takes the pressure off of trying to appease the ATS robots as your natural experience will perfectly match the position.
- Stick with the traditional font choices of Times New Roman or Arial and only use standard black bullet points. Using fancy fonts and special characters can oftentimes confuse the ATS, which may result in it completely skipping your experience section.
- Never change the title of your previous or current positions to match that of the one you’re applying for. This can be seen as trying to manipulate the system and generally results in negative reactions by both the ATS and human hiring manager.
- While using PDF documents may seem like an easier way to digitally transmit your resume, most ATS algorithms are unable to process, which means your resume will either be skipped or not fully scanned. Stick with the traditional .doc or .text file format (unless otherwise directed by the employer).
- Avoid writing in first person (using “I” statement). Instead write in third person. Moreover, avoid stating “references available upon request,” as this is a given as the employer will ask you for references if they’re interested.