The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the number of job openings will increase by 26 percent by 2020. Some of the reasons for the high demand for nurses include the influx of new patients due to the expansion of health insurance coverage by the Affordable Care Act, the high number of nurses retiring, and the aging Baby Boomer’s increased needs for healthcare. If you only look at these statistics, you would think that landing a high paying nursing job would be relatively easy, but the hard reality is the competition for the best nursing jobs is fierce.
Whether you’ve just completed your nursing degree to become a RN, LPN or CNA, or you are an experienced nurse who wants to change careers, you need to have a resume that catches the eye of both the human resources team and the hiring manager. Think of your resume as a 30-second elevator pitch to sell yourself as the best candidate for the position. A high-performance nursing resume describes your skills and experience in a manner that catches the interest of human resources staff and hiring managers so they extend an interview offer to you.
What you “Must Have” in your Resume
Make a Value Proposition:
Traditional resumes lead with a goal statement; a high performance resume builds upon the goal statement to include your specialty areas, experience, and unique skills that will benefit the employer. The key to a successful value proposition is to make every word count as you create interest in your resume.
Define Your Expertise:
Most nursing positions require highly specialized skills and hiring managers want to interview only the candidate whose skill set matches what is require for the position. The best way to present your skills is in the form of a bullet list that the human resource professional or hiring manage can easily scan. Define your skills using specific keywords because many human resource offices use computer algorithms to separate qualified applicants from those that do not have the required skills for the job. Remember to include your license and certification information.
Frame Your Experience in Terms of Return on Investment:
When you list your nursing experience, make sure you use an active voice with strong verbs that convey movement. This use of language not only keeps the reader engaged while reviewing your resume, but also helps the reviewer visualize you doing the work. Additionally, quantify the ways you benefited your employer. For example, instead of just writing, “Trained new staff,” you can state that you “Trained new staff using innovative strategies that cut onboarding time by 25 percent.” Remember to give just enough information to describe your work, but leaves the reader wanting to talk to you to learn more about your experience.
Describe Community Involvement:
Many employers are starting to consider a job candidate’s professional networks and community connections when they make employment decisions. Employees with broad professional networks are typically the first to know about new trends and are aware of the best practices in the profession. Additionally, employees with strong community networks act as informal outreach representatives for their workplace. They are often the source of new referrals and can recommended like-minded professionals for critical job openings. When describing you community involvement, include only those organization that are relevant to the position. For example, if you are applying for a pediatric nurse position, include both the professional organizations to which you belong and the ways they support the local children’s shelter or foster care. Avoid including your volunteer work that might be considered controversial, such as for a particular political group.
Tailor Your Resume to the Job:
The days of writing one resume to apply for many jobs is gone. Human resources staff and hiring managers often ignore generic resumes and focus on the ones targeted to the job opening, Additionally, when you customize the resume so it directly relates to the job opening, you communicate that you are genuinely interested in the position and you have a general understanding of the requirements of the job.
Format Your Resume So It is Scan-able:
Human resource personnel receive hundreds of resumes to review in a short amount of time. Chances are they are not going to take the time to read blocks of text, even if the information is well written and pertinent to a particular job opening. A resume that uses bullet lists, defined sections, and headers allow the reviewer to find the information they need quickly and easily. Additionally, an organized and well-formatted resume demonstrates your organizational abilities, which are critical in any nursing position.
Strategies for New Nursing Graduates
Many newly licensed nurses are surprised to discover that despite the shortage of nurses, they have difficulty getting interviews, no less a job. Just like other employers, health care administrators look for ways to cut costs, and one of the ways they do so is to hire experienced nurses to minimize their onboarding costs. This practice leaves new nurses in a catch 22 situation — they need experience to get a job, but they cannot get experience because they cannot get a job. The good news is that a high performance resume helps new nurses overcome this obstacle.
Unpaid Experience is Experience:
Many new nurses do not recognize that their clinical rotations count as work experience. Additionally, volunteer work in a hospital or other health care setting also has the potential to count as work experience. For example, if you took and recorded a person’s blood pressure or weight at a community health fair, this can serve as work experience on your resume.
Emphasize Skills with Technology:
From electronic health records to computerized diagnostic tools, the use of computers and digital technology is driving many aspects of the health care profession. New nurses can gain a competitive advantage by highlighting their experience with the new technology used in healthcare settings.
What to Omit from your Resume
While it is common sense to triple check your resume to ensure it is free of typos and grammatical errors, some applicants for nursing jobs include information on their resume that significantly reduce their chances for getting an interview. For example, do not include your marital status, number of children, height, and weight in your resume profile section, since federal law does not allow employers to make employment decision based on this type of information. Additionally, there is no reason to include hobbies or other personal interests on your resume.
A well-crafted, high-performance nursing resume is the key to opening the door to the top nursing positions.