How To Make Your Nursing Resumé Look Impressive

Did you know that passing all your nursing tests and gaining your nursing DNP degree aren’t the only tasks you need to complete in order to find your dream job? Just like any other job, you need to have a full resumé, detailing your experience and your qualifications, as well as more information that you might not even have considered. Nursing jobs are competitive, so if you want the one you’ve been hoping for—perhaps because it is close to home, or because the hospital is a particularly well-regarded one—then you’ll need to have a resumé that is going to impress anyone who reads it.

When you write your resumé you should ask yourself a number of questions. These include:

  • How can I make my resumé stronger?
  • How can I make my resumé stand out?
  • What are employers looking for when they read nursing resumés?

When you know the answers to these questions, it will be easier to put together a resumé that will help you get an interview; the rest is down to you. Here are some useful tips on how to make your nursing resumé look impressive, no matter how much (or how little) experience you have.

Why Have A Resumé?

To begin with, why should a nurse need to write a resumé? If they have the relevant qualifications and they have trained for their DNP, wouldn’t that be enough? In the past, this was true. A nurse wouldn’t necessarily need a resumé, and instead they would simply show their qualifications. Today it is different. Nursing is a highly complex, difficult job, and although some positions are entry level and are ideal for those just starting out (and therefore a resumé may not be required or even possible to write), there are other positions that require much more skill and experience. This is where a resumé will be useful.

When you apply for a position in a hospital, a clinic, or even a private medical setting, having a well-thought-out, well-set-out resumé detailing every qualification you have and every place in which you have worked—as well as what you did in those positions—is going to help you achieve your goals much more quickly. There are some important points to note when you are writing your resumé that will help it gain more attention, which are outlined in the following sections:

Make It Easy For The Reader

The worst-case scenario after working so hard for your DNP and then having had a variety of successful positions in different hospitals and clinical workplaces is for no one to want to read your resumé. Although it might sound strange, this is actually what can happen if your resumé is not an easy read.

This would, of course, negate all your hard work and ensure that someone else, perhaps someone less qualified, got the job you were applying for instead of you. Thankfully, this is easy to fix; once you have completed your resumé and before you send it anywhere, you must ensure it is easy to read.

When you read through your resumé, put yourself in the shoes of an employer. They need the very best nurse they can find, but they are also extremely busy with many pressures on them. So, make sure the most important information about your successes at work, the prestigious places in which you have nursed, and your DNP and other qualifications stand out. Simply by adding these titles to each section in bold or changing the font may well be enough to catch the employer’s eye, especially if they are time-limited and have to scan each resumé rather than read it fully.

Having a logical order to your resumé is also crucial, and making it look neat with good spelling will help to increase your chances, too.

Make It Look Attractive

If you’re not sure what an attractive resumé looks like, perhaps because you’ve never seen one or written one before (or because it’s been a long time since you have), then take a look online at some examples. You’ll soon get a good idea of the kind of features an employer will appreciate, as well as the kind of resumé that is going to be ignored, more than anything else.

It’s true that there will be a current resumé style, which is why, even if you have a resumé that has helped you in the past, you will need to update it before applying for a job now. All the information should stay the same, including your DNP and other qualifications and your work experience, but the way it is set out and how it is included might be different now from when you wrote your resumé two, five, ten, or more years ago.

Some points to try include:

  • Using just one font throughout (not one that is too ‘fancy’ or difficult to read, although to make your resumé look different use an alternative to Times New Roman or Arial, which are the most popular and what most other people will be using)
  • Using bullet points to focus the employer
  • Using keywords (this is more important if you intend to post your resumé online for employers to find you)

Although the majority of resumés will be written in Microsoft Word, you can be creative and write one using PowerPoint or Canva, for example. Always it’s always a good idea to include a Word version, just in case there is a problem opening the other—employers won’t have time to contact you to get a different resumé, so include it from the start to save them the trouble.

Include Relevant And Accurate Content

Your resumé must, if nothing else, contain the most accurate and up-to-date content about yourself, your experience, and your qualifications such as your DNP. However, sending over a standard resumé for every job you apply for may not be the best way to engage the employer and help you to stand out.

Your resumé must also be relevant for each position. If all the jobs you are applying for are in the same vein (that is, if you are only applying for one type of nursing role in one type of clinical setting), the one resumé is not going to be an issue as long as everything written in that resumé is relevant to the type of role you are applying for.

If, however, you are applying for multiple roles because you want to give yourself the best chance of working in a specific hospital, or if you’re not sure what type of nursing your DNP is going to be best used for, then you should tailor your resumé each time. This will, of course, be time-consuming, but it is worth doing if you are keen to impress. A resumé for a nurse applying for a position in an ER will be slightly different to that of a nurse applying for a position in elderly care, and so on. The information will be the same of course; you’ve still got your DNP and the same experience, but the way it is presented may differ. Depending on what role you are applying for, different elements might come first in your resumé.

Remember never to exaggerate or lie on your resumé either. Your role as a nurse involves treating patients and carrying out important procedures. If you exaggerate on your resumé because you desperately want a particular job, the truth will always come out when someone realizes you don’t have the skills or experience you said you did. This will make it hard to find another job, and your nursing career might be over before it has had much of a chance to start. Always tell the truth, even if it means applying for lower-level jobs to begin with in order to gain the experience you’ll need to further your career later. If you need additional qualifications, go back to school (online or offline) to gain your DNP or whatever else you need that is missing from your skillset.

Include Contact Information

You might think it goes without saying, but many resumés are sent off without the correct contact information included, or even without any contact information at all. If you make it hard for a hiring manager to get in touch with you, unless your resumé truly is stunning and completely different to anyone else’s, they aren’t going to. Instead they will move on to the next potential employee on the list. They are busy and under pressure to fill the vacant positions they have quickly, so having to take the time to find your information is not a task they are going to want to do.

A phone number and email address is enough contact information and you shouldn’t need to include your physical address at all. However, if you’re applying for a local role and you want to impress with the fact that you live close by because it might give you an edge, then certainly include your address if you want to. If, however, you’re applying for somewhere out of town or even out of state, you might prefer to leave your physical address off your resumé. The employer won’t know that you’re planning to relocate, they won’t know that you have connections in the area (hence the reason for applying); they will look at your address and wonder why you’re applying—it might be enough, despite your excellent DNP qualifications, to put you to the bottom of the pile.

You should also consider your email address. Is it appropriate? Often when we create email addresses we use funny terms or nicknames, which is fine for casual use, but when you are applying for a job it might not be seen as quite so amusing. If you aren’t sure that your email address will be taken seriously, or if you simply want to create one that is just used for your job search, create a professional-sounding one. This could include your first and last name and the term “RN” or “DNP,” for example. This will show you are serious about applying for a job as a nurse. Don’t put any numbers; although there should never be any age bias when looking through a resumé, a number that is clearly a year of birth might be taken into account, even if it is only done subconsciously.

How To Organize The Content

Now you know what your resumé should look like and how to format it, you will need to consider the content included. There are four main features to include. These are:

If you include them in the order stated above, the hiring manager will have a much easier time when they begin to read through your resumé. They will see the most relevant information first, and if they are interested they will continue reading. They will know that, if they read the entire resumé, they have found someone they might like to put forward for an interview. It makes their job much easier, and it gives you much more potential for getting the job you want.

You might also want to include information about your past achievements, your specific skills, volunteer activities you undertake, and any professional affiliations you have or associations you are part of. These are not always necessary, but many people find they are more comfortable putting additional information on their resumé than leaving it out, just in case it is of interest. If you ensure every section has a relevant heading, the hiring manager can make their own choice as to what they want to know more about.

Make The Time

Finally, no matter whether you have many years of experience to put into your resumé or you have only just completed your DNP, you should always set aside a good amount of time to write your resumé up. Rushing through and missing out important information, or only writing a first draft and not checking through to ensure the spelling, grammar, and format is good, will result in you being beaten to many jobs.

If you want your resumé to work for you, you need to work on it first, and that means setting aside the time you need to do so. If it takes many days until you know you’ve got it right, then this is what you’ll need to do. It will be worth it when you have the nursing job of your dreams.