As a nurse, you know a lot about taking care of people and helping them be healthy.
But when it comes to resume writing, maybe you could use a little help of your own.
Are there specific resume strategies that nurses should follow?
Just how detailed do you need to be when describing your medical skill set? And how do you highlight all those certifications you might have?
We’re going to walk you through the entire process of creating a nurse resume step-by-step!
- A nurse resume example that is proven to work
- How to write a nurse resume that will get you invited to interviews
- How to make your nurse resume stand out [with top tips & tricks]
Here’s some inspiration to get you started:
A nurse resume example, created with our very own resume builder:
Now, read on to learn how to create a resume that looks as good (or better) than the above example!
How to Format a Nurse Resume
The first step to creating your nurse resume is to decide on a format.
Just like any other career, hiring managers want specific information to jump out at them when reviewing resumes. So nurses need to make sure their resumes are formatted properly.
In 2023, the most common resume format remains the “reverse-chronological” format. So this is your best bet.
Of course, there are other resume formats you can try…
- Functional Resume - This format is a lot more about your skills as opposed to professional experience. It’s good if you don’t have a lot of experience, are transferring to a new industry, or have gaps in your employment history.
- Combination Resume - As the name suggests, a combination resume is a mix between “Functional” and “Reverse-Chronological.” Meaning, it focuses both on skills AND work experience. You can use a combination resume if you have a lot of work experience or changing industries.
Once you’ve decided on the format, you need to get your resume layout right.
Here’s what we recommend…
- Margins - One-inch margins on all sides
- Font - Pick a font that stands out, but not too much. Do: Ubuntu, Roboto, etc. Don’t: Comic Sans
- Font Size - Use a font size of 11-12pt for normal text and 14-16pt for headers
- Line Spacing - Use 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing
- Resume Length - Don’t go over the 1-page limit. Having trouble fitting everything into one page? Check out these one-page resume templates.
- As a nurse you have probably earned some certifications for different areas of medicine. Create a dedicated section for your certificates so these stand out in your resume.
Use a Nurse Resume Template
Are you used to creating your resume in Word? Painful isn’t it?
It’s easy to spend more time tinkering with formatting than it actually takes you to fill in the contents.
Then, you decide to make a single, small layout change, and BAM! Your entire resume layout falls apart.
There’s a better way than using Word: use a nurse resume template.
What to Include in a Nurse Resume
The main sections in a nurse resume are:
- Contact Information
- Resume Summary
- Work Experience
- Awards & Recognitions
If you want your resume to stand out more, you can also try these optional sections:
- Conferences & Courses
- Professional Affiliations
- Interests & Hobbies
Now, we’re going to go through each of those sections, and explain how to write them.
Not sure which sections to use? Check out our guide to What to Put on a Resume.
How to Get Your Contact Information Right
Maybe you’ve created the perfect resume with amazing content on your skills and experience. But if you mess up the contact section, you won’t be getting a lot of interview invitations (mainly because they won’t be able to call your misspelled phone number).
For your contacts, include:
- Title - For nurses, your best bet is likely “Registered Nurse”.
- Phone Number - Double-check, triple-check this. One typo can really mess up your chances of an employer contacting you.
- Email Address - Make sure to use a professional email address (email@example.com), and avoid that email you created back in 5th grade (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- (Optional) Location - Applying for a job abroad? Mention your current location.
How to Write a Nurse Resume Summary or Objective
Fun fact - recruiters spend less than 6 seconds reviewing each resume. This isn’t that surprising, though. You can’t expect them to read the hundreds of resumes they receive from end to end.
So, if the recruiter doesn’t see that you’re relevant for the job in a single glance, your resume won’t even be read.
Now, the question is, what can you do to hook the recruiter the moment they look at your resume.
The answer is simple: use a resume summary or objective.
As a quick intro, both the resume summary and objective are sections that go on top of your resume, just under the contact information section.
The main difference between the 2 sections is that…
A resume summary is a 2-4 sentence summary of your professional experiences and achievements.
- Trauma Certified Registered Nurse with more than five years experience working in emergency care. Compassionate, ethical health-care provider with a proven ability to stay calm during crises. Hold a Master’s of Science in Surgical Nursing.
A resume objective, on the other hand, is a 2-4 sentence snapshot of your professional goals and aspirations.
- Patient-focused nursing student with 2 years of healthcare experience. Pursuing internships as part of career goal to become Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse.
So, which one do you pick? A summary, or an objective?
As you can see from the above examples, the key difference between the two is that a Resume Objective is better-suited to those who are new to a field (student, graduate, or switching careers). Always go for a Resume Summary if you have already established your career path.
How to Make Your Nurse Work Experience Stand Out
Work experience is the most important section in your resume.
Sure, your medical skills are super important, but so is your professional experience. Here’s how to structure your work experience section…
- Position name
- Company Name
- Responsibilities & Achievements
01/2015 - 06/2019
- Obtained and recorded patients’ vital signs, intake and output and blood glucose
- Worked in the cardiatric and oncology wards of the hospital
- Used EHR software to record patient information
Now, if you really want to stand out, you should focus on talking about your achievements instead of responsibilities.
Instead of saying:
“Screen patients upon arrival at emergency ward.”
“Administered emergency ward intake evaluations for up to 25 patients each hour by measuring vital signs and prioritizing cases accordingly.”
So, what’s the difference between the two?
The second one is more specific. You know exactly what the person did, and you can say that he/she can work efficiently.
The first example, on the other hand, is too generic. Screening patients could be as basic as checking whether they have health insurance and entering their personal information into the hospital system. There is also no mention of how many patients this person is used to handling.
What if You Don’t Have Work Experience?
Maybe you’re a current student trying to land an internship or a recent graduate looking for your first full-time nursing job?
Fortunately, nursing students or graduates gain plenty of practical experience as they navigate their way through their studies. Only so much of the medical field can be taught in the classroom.
By the time you are in your second year of school, chances are high you’ve been in a health-care facility helping evaluate and treat patients. You may not be a registered nurse at this point, you can absolutely include the skills and procedures you’ve learned in school on your resume.
If you’re a recent graduate, you might want to check out our guide on how to make a student resume!
Use Action Words to Make Your Nurse Resume SHINE!
These are the most common words you’ll find on ANY resume.
And since you want YOURS to stand out, we’d recommend avoiding them as much as possible.
Instead, use some of these power words to make your responsibilities and achievements stand out:
How to List Education Right
The next section in any Nurse resume is the “Education.”
This one’s pretty straightforward. Simply list out your education entries, and you’re gold!
- Degree Type & Major
- University Name
- Years Studied
- GPA, Honours, Courses, and anything else you might want to add
MSc in Nursing
University of Southern California
- Relevant Courses: Radiological Nursing, Advanced Surgical Procedures, Oncological Diagnostics
- GPA: 3.6
Before we move on, here are some of the most frequent questions we get about education on a resume (and their answers!):
- What if I haven’t finished college?
Whether you’re still a student, or you dropped out, you should still mention your degree. All you have to do is include the years studied, and you’re good.
- Do I list my high school education?
Only if you don’t have a higher education. No one cares about your high school education if you have a B.A.
- What goes first, education or experience?
If you have any relevant work experience, then experiences go on top. If you don’t, though, then education.
Still have some questions? Check out our guide on how to list education on a resume.
Top 30 Skills for a Nurse Resume
When the HR manager is going through your resume, they’re looking to see if you have the right skills for the job.
Imagine this: you’re the best nurse in the world and your resume is impeccable. BUT, you still get rejected, because you didn’t mention that you know the exact procedures or techniques that the health centre needs.
Not sure which skills to pick?
Here are some of the most common nurse skills:
Hard Skills for Nurse Resume:
- Assisting in surgery
- Administration of medication
- Chemotherapy administration
- Bedside monitoring
- Bladder irrigation
- Blood administration
- Emergency room care
- Healthcare software
- Infection control
- Lab testing
- Intramuscularly injections or IV therapy
- Maternal care
- Pain management
- Physical assessments
- Psychiatric care
- Seizure precautions
- Surgery preparation
- Wound irrigation
- Withdrawal of blood samples
Soft Skills for Nurse Resume:
- Attention to detail
- Communication (verbal & written)
- Critical thinking
- Physical endurance (since you will work long hours and have to use sometimes heavy equipment or patients)
- Observation (since you need to track subtle and small changes such as a change in the color or odor)
- As a general rule, we’d recommend not to go overboard with “Soft Skills.” They are certainly important in the medical field, but they are also harder to back up. Doctors need people with hard skills standing next to them, so give these priority.
Looking for a more comprehensive list? Here’s a mega-list of 150+ must-have skills in 2023.
Certifications for a Nurse Resume
As we mentioned before, many nurses will attain special certifications as they progress in their careers. These should be highlighted in your resume. For example:
- CPR certified through the American Heart Association
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Advanced Holistic Nurse, Board Certified
Other Resume Sections You Can Include
At this point, you’re probably ready to wrap up your resume and call it a day.
After all, we’ve covered all the essential sections, right?
Well, not exactly. See, the #1 goal of your resume is to stand out.
And if your resume looks exactly the same as everyone else’s, that’s where you fail.
If you’re already a good match for the job in terms of skills and experiences, these sections could end up being the deciding factor that gets you hired (and makes you stand out from the rest).
Conferences & Courses
As part of their career development, many nurses will participate or even speak at nursing conferences. These are great to list on a resume because they highlight your dedication to the profession.
Meanwhile, nurses also participate in courses devoted to specialized topics in nursing or medicine. Perhaps these courses don’t involve formal certification in a specific area, but they do demonstrate certain career interests.
For example, maybe after five years of working in nursing, you decide to take a course in End-of-Life Care because it’s an area you may want to pursue future certification. Once you’ve taken the course, there’s no reason not to put it on your resume.
If you’ve got the space, try to include a Conferences & Courses section on your resume.
An extra language or two can always come in handy, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with the position you’re applying for. You never know when a foreign language might help save a life.
If you know any foreign language & have extra space in your resume, feel free to add a language section.
Make sure to split the languages by proficiency:
Interests & Hobbies
Now, you might be thinking, “what does my hiking hobby have to do with my profession as a nurse?”
Well, nothing, but it does have something to do with you as a person. Strong teamwork is essential in the health-care field, so doctors and administrators are looking for someone they’ll get along with.
And what’s something you can bond with potential employers about? Hobbies and interests, exactly!
Not sure which hobbies & interests you want to mention? We have a guide for that!
Match Your Cover Letter with Your Resume
Yep, that’s right.
You might be thinking, “A cover letter?! Surely the nursing skills on my resume speak for themselves!”
Well, here’s the thing: cover letters are still very important.
They show the recruiter that you’re passionate about working for THIS position in THIS company, and you aren’t just sending your resume all over the place.
Having a solid cover letter with your resume can significantly boost your chances of getting the job.
The first step to writing a convincing cover letter is to get the structure right. Here’s how to do that.
And here’s what you’d write in each section:
Your personal contact information, including full name, profession, email, phone number, location.
Hiring Manager’s Contact Information
Full name, position, location, email.
Your introduction should be very strong. If you don’t manage to hook the hiring manager here, chances are, they’re not going to read the rest of it. So, mention:
- Your name
- The position you’re applying for
- Your experience summary and top achievement
Once you’ve got the hiring manager hooked, you can go through the rest of your background. Some of the points you can mention here are:
- Why you want to work for this specific company.
- Anything you know about the company’s culture.
- What are your top skills and how are they relevant for the job.
- If you’ve worked in similar industries or positions.
This is where you:
- Wrap up any points you missed in the body paragraph
- Thank the hiring manager for their time
- End with a call to action. Something like, “I’d love to further discuss how my experience as an X can help the company with Y”
Use a formal closing, such as “best regards” or “Sincerely.”
Need more inspiration? We get it - creating a cover letter is very hard work. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with your step-by-step guide on how to write a cover letter.
Applying for a different position in the medical field? Our related resume examples can come in handy:
If you followed everything we just taught you to the T, you’re pretty much guaranteed to land the job.
Now, let’s go through everything we’ve learned real quick:
- Get the right formatting for your nurse resume. Use a reverse-chronological format, and follow the best practices we mentioned on getting the layout right.
- Use a resume summary or objective to catch the hiring manager’s attention.
- In your work experience section, try to talk more about your achievements than your responsibilities.
- Emphasize hard skills more than soft skills (both are important but hard skills save lives)
- Match your nurse resume with a convincing cover letter.