Knowing the difference between a corporate résumé and a nursing résumé is crucial if you want to get hired for a nursing job.
Healthcare organizations are on the look-out for specific qualifications combined with practical experience. The ideal nursing résumé gives the reader concise yet detailed insight into your academic and professional skills, while ensuring that major keywords relevant to the types of nursing jobs you’re applying for are incorporated.
Our free nursing template résumé PDF and nursing résumé writing guide explain what healthcare organizations are looking for, and provide guidance on how to make your résumé shine.
Keep reading to learn more about how to write a great nursing résumé!
Just like in the corporate world, healthcare organizations are increasingly turning to applicant tracking system (ATS) technology to streamline the recruitment process. An ATS helps recruiters to more quickly and efficiently identify the most suitable applicants, without having to manually review every single résumé. An ATS is designed to parse – or scan – your résumé against specific keywords in the job description, and rate your application according to how closely it matches these keywords and any other objective criteria (e.g. length of experience). The ‘human’ recruiter then reviews résumés flagged as a potential fit. If a high number of applications is received, recruiters may only review the highest-ranking résumés. This makes it vital to check keywords in specific job descriptions carefully, and ensure that these are reflected in your nurse résumé if relevant. In an ATS-driven world, the onus is on the candidate to optimize their application. If you’re a perfect match but haven’t properly optimized your résumé, the recruiter may never know.
For a nurse résumé, emphasis should be placed on education and qualifications, skills, areas of specialization, and experience. To ATS-optimize your résumé, focus on including hard (objective) skills rather than soft (subjective) skills. If you’re a nurse, it’s a given that you’re detail-oriented and a team player - no need to take up space by telling the reader this.
While standard résumés are 1-2 pages in length, a nurse résumé can be slightly longer, depending on how far along you are in your career and your particular expertise and achievements. The most common nurse résumé sections are:
Name and contact information
Licences and Certifications
A short, snappy professional summary tells the reader who you are and persuades them to see you as a great fit for the job. It’s also an excellent way to incorporate the main keywords for that specific nursing position to boost ATS friendliness. Here’s an example:
I am a Nursing Consultant with over two decades of expertise in the field of perioperative nursing. I am highly familiar with providing clinical leadership in surgical services and nursing processes, caring for patients with multiple and complex problems, acting as a clinical resource and hospital-wide consultant to staff, teaching, and evaluating work performance. I excel at driving strategic and operational planning, and have achieved significant success in supporting ambitious training & development initiatives that have positively impacted perioperative nursing services.
In the work experience section, list each role you’ve held, in chronological order starting with the most recent. Bullet point specific tasks and responsibilities. Aim to keep each point to 1-2 lines maximum. If you’re fairly established in your career, there’s no need to include descriptions for earlier, more junior roles [if earlier experience is very specific/noteworthy, it’s fine to add a brief bullet point or two to describe this].
Recruiters don’t just want to know what you can do, they want to know what you have achieved. Be sure to include significant achievements and quantify these as much as possible (e.g. “How much?” or “How many?”).
Use action verbs to describe tasks and achievements (e.g. manage, lead, drive, provide, steer, handle, supervise, plan, oversee). Ensure each point focuses on hard skills and quantifiable achievements, and gives the reader a clear idea of what you did. For example, ‘Supervise all preop assessments of patients, procedures, both circulating and monitoring hemodynamics, and post op recovery’ is much clearer than ‘Supervise all pre-op and pro-op procedures’.
When you’ve added your responsibilities and achievements, double-check that current bullet points are written in present simple tense (‘manage’) and previous roles are in past simple tense (‘managed’).
Have you participated in any volunteer work, particularly anything related to healthcare? Highlighting your volunteer experience is a great way to demonstrate your interest in people and the community outside of work. List any volunteer roles in much the same way as professional experience - organization, role title, dates, and a short description of your work and any significant achievements.
If you have attended specialist conferences, these can also be listed under a separate heading called ‘Conferences Attended’. If you’ve written any professional articles or delivered professional presentations, you can list these under section headings such as ‘Publications’ and ‘Presentations Delivered’ with date, title, and publication/venue.
Now you’re ready to put it all together and create your own résumé! The sample résumé can be used as a template for structuring your own skills, education, and experience into a cohesive narrative.
- Have you included your name, contact information, and a short summary (with key skills)?
- Have you listed your relevant professional experience, in chronological order? Are current responsibilities in present simple tense, and previous jobs in past simple tense?
- Have you included (if relevant) separate sections for volunteer experience, conferences attended, professional memberships, publications, presentations, or languages?
- Last but very much not least: have you keyword optimized your résumé for the job you’re applying for?