Nurse Resumes that Work

Whether you’re a recent graduate entering the nursing field, or a veteran with years of experience, you’ll need a professional resume to give to potential employers. And yesterday’s resume styles just won’t cut it. In order to have the best chances at the jobs your apply for, your resume should be scannable, stand out among the crowd, and leave no doubt in the reviewer’s mind that you have the right skills needed to fill the position. Let’s take a look at what makes a nurse resume a winner.

The Basics

Begin by placing your name, address, phone number and email address at the top of the resume. Your name should be in larger, bold print with the other information on the next line. This will give the employer your contact information should they want to offer you an interview.

Objective Statement

This one to two sentence statement will tell the employer exactly who you are and what you want. Too many people make vague and overreaching statements, and the reader is generally left unaffected by them. Instead, make this a bold statement. For example, instead of stating that you want to work as a nurse and use your skills to help people, write that you want to work in a cancer ward and provide crucial care for people in medical distress. Be specific, and don’t forget to tailor it to the job you’re applying for.

Qualifications Summary

In this area of your resume, you should highlight the areas of expertise or experience that you have. You shouldn’t go into great detail in this area because you will cover each qualification more thoroughly in the professional experience section of your resume. Just give basic highlights – in a bullet list for example – with enough information to make the reviewer want to keep reading to find out more. Be sure to highlight those areas that will be of use to the employer reading your resume. For example, you wouldn’t want to emphasize your experience in a pediatric ward if you’re applying for a position in a nursing home. If you are a new graduate, you might think about skipping this section unless you’ve achieved some hands-on experience in your training or volunteer work that would be applicable to the position you’re applying for.

Professional Experience

The most common and effective way to approach this area of your resume is to list your most relevant jobs in a reverse chronological order. Starting with the last job you held, put your job title in bold, then list the organization that you worked for, and finally the years that you held the job.

Many people make the mistake of listing every job that they’ve ever held, but don’t. An employer is only interested in the jobs that show experience that can be used in the position they are trying to fill. Remember, the reviewer’s job is to look through the resumes and determine who has the skills needed to fill a position. By remaining focused on skills and jobs that will help fill the need, you’ll have a better chance of obtaining an interview.

Finally, list your experience by using bulleted lists. By doing this, you’ll automatically highlight the important facts, and readers find it easier to spot vital information this way. You can use bold letters to highlight important facts, but only if you use them sparingly and consistently. For instance, if you highlight a company’s name, then you’ll need to highlight every company name on that same bulleted list.


Here is where you should list all of the pertinent education that you’ve received for your nursing degree. Place the name of the educational institution first, followed by the degree you received, and finally the date. If you are just beginning your career or are looking to change jobs in the same field, then this area will follow “professional experience,” but if you have received additional education in an attempt to change career paths, then place emphasis on that fact by placing it in the section above.

Volunteer Experience

It’s good to show potential employees that you care enough about your chosen career to help in the community even when you’re not paid for it. If you have a lot of volunteer experience, be sure to limit the listings to those that are directly related to the position you’re applying for. In addition, if you don’t yet have job experience, volunteering is one way to get it, and will only serve to improve your resume – and your chances of getting hired.

Finally, since many companies now scan resumes looking for pertinent words, you should be very choosy about which words you use to describe yourself and your skills. Use action words instead of passive ones, and make sure that there are enough relevant words in your resume that a computer program will spot them, and then flag your resume as appropriate. By tailoring your resume to each position that you apply for, you should have no problem getting noticed.


Learn More: Cover Letters for Nursing Jobs