Key Elements for Writing an Outstanding Nursing Resume

Debra Riley


A career in nursing offers numerous benefits. Nurses enjoy a steady income and a high salary, can work in a variety of settings, and have high job stability and satisfaction. Moreover, this profession is always in demand. According to the BLS, the employment of nurses will grow by 6 percent from 2022 to 2032.

To land a lucrative nursing position faster, you will need a resume that presents your skills effectively to employers. In this post, you will find tips to strengthen your nurse resume and make it a magnet for employers.

If you feel that the resume undersells you, consider working with a nurse resume writer. There are professional resume writing services for nurses that can compose your resume from scratch or improve the old one.

An experienced writer will outline your achievements and skills to employers and adapt your resume for a job description to help you land more interviews.

nursing resume

Nursing Resume Writing Tips

Choose the effective resume format

Before organizing your nursing resume, decide on the format you’ll use:

  • The chronological format is popular among experienced nurses. In this resume type, you list previous jobs, dates of employment, and your responsibilities in a reverse chronological format. Thus, the employer can see your sequence of jobs and what you achieved in each role.
  • The functional format emphasizes education and skills. It is suitable for new nurses and career switchers. In this resume, you put education, training, and specific skills at the top, and list your jobs briefly without detailed job descriptions.
  • The hybrid resume combines the features of the above two. It has a summary of qualifications and a list of skills at the top and also presents the chronology of jobs. This resume type is suitable for both entry-level and experienced nurses.

Add a catchy resume summary

The Summary section is an effective way to quickly introduce yourself to an employer. By adding it, you can quickly attract attention and stand out from the crowd of applicants.

Your summary should take between 3 and 5 sentences. Focus on specific achievements, competencies, and credentials that define you as a professional. Use figures and percentages whenever possible to quantify your impact.

  • Include your target job title, years of experience, and areas of specialization in the first sentence.
  • As a recent graduate, you can include your degree, clinical rotations, and new certifications to prove that you are perfectly qualified.
  • Add your most impressive accomplishments and awards (professional, academic, or else) to grasp the employer’s attention.

List your hard and soft skills

Add a dedicated Skills list after the Summary section. Thus, the employer will see your areas of expertise at a glance. Moreover, using skills from the job description will help you get a higher score from the ATS.

Use between 10 and 20 skills. If you’re an experienced nurse, break down your skills by categories to ease the reading. Here are the best nursing skills for a resume:

Hard skillsSoft skills
● Patient care
● EHR proficiency
● Intravenous therapy
● Medication Administration
● Vital signs monitoring
● Lab testing
● Physical assessments
● Blood administration
● Patient Education
● Healthcare software
● Communication skills
● Cultural sensitivity
● Empathy
● Physical stamina
● Continuous learning
● Patient observation
● Critical thinking
● Teamwork

Include your degree and certifications

Including relevant education is a must, as hospitals and outpatient settings look for nurses with specific degrees and certifications. As a new graduate, you can place the Education section at the top of the resume. If you have 2+ years of nursing experience, the professional history goes first.

Include your degree, school name, and academic achievements (such as a high GPA, awards, or else). In addition to a higher education degree, it is also important to list licenses and confiscations to show continuous learning.

Here are the best nursing certifications to add to your resume:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)
  • IV Therapy Certification
  • Holistic Nursing Certification
  • Nursing Informatics Certification
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC)
a nurse typing

Describe your experience persuasively

Your professional experience is the most important part of your resume. When listing your jobs, focus not on your daily duties, but on the results of your actions. Think about the contribution you’ve made.

Keep your job descriptions concise – 5-7 bullets per role are enough to give an idea of what you specialize in and whether your skills are relevant to a target employer. Add at least one achievement per job – thus, the hiring manager will see that you are a result-driven individual.

Here’s how you can describe your achievements and job duties:

  • Cooperated with interdisciplinary teams to modernize nursing protocols, resulting in a 20% reduction in patient readmission rates.
  • Trained new nursing staff, contributing to an 80% retention rate of newly hired nurses.

Optimize your resume with keywords

Nearly 99% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS software to screen incoming resumes. If your nursing resume doesn’t have relevant keywords, it might get tossed even if you are qualified.

To avoid this, tailor the resume for each job posting. Include the target job title and keywords from the job ad. Keywords are names of skills, qualifications, and credentials that appear frequently in the job posting.

  • Only apply if you meet 100% of the required qualifications. Otherwise, your application will be rejected.
  • Use keywords naturally in your resume. Avoid copying and pasting too many keywords, as ATS can lower your score.
  • Use ATS-friendly file formats, such as DOCX or PDF. Do not use tables, graphics, photos, or other visuals – most ATS don’t read them correctly.
  • Don’t put your skills at the bottom as ATS mostly scans keywords at the top of your resume.

Follow the best resume-writing practices

After completing your Experience, Education, and Skills sections, check if your resume meets the following criteria:

  • Keep it to 1-2 pages. Hiring managers are too busy to read multi-page resumes. Keep the document to one page as a recent graduate, and use two pages if you have 7+ years of experience.
  • Add a target job title as a headline so that the employer can instantly see what role you’re after.
  • Remove outdated skills and experience. If your resume takes too many pages, remove jobs and projects you had over 10 years ago. You can also delete skills you no longer use.
  • Do not write “References available upon request”. This phrase is obvious – if the employer needs your references, they will ask for them anyway.
nurse writing her resume

Proofread before sending

59% of recruiters can reject a resume with typos or poor grammar. As a nurse, you should demonstrate attention to detail, so resume mistakes are not acceptable.

Take the time to proofread the written resume to ensure it makes the right impression. Consider using an online spell-checking software – they’re usually good at finding minor mistakes.

Read the resume text aloud to make sure that each sentence is complete and makes sense. Show it to a hiring manager or a trusted friend – they will spot mistakes faster and will give recommendations about what to improve.

To Finish Off

The best nursing jobs are very competitive, so your resume should be perfect in every aspect. With the above tips, you’ll strengthen the resume content and make your document appealing to ATS robots and human hiring managers.

If you need extra help and guidance with updating your resume, do not hesitate to contact a professional resume consultant. Good luck with your job search!