If you ask a group of managers what they recommend nurse applicants include on their resumes, they would agree on many common pieces of key information. However, there are always new opinions about 21st-century resumes, and nurses should keep updated on what’s hot and what’s not.
A professional summary — Many resume-watchers think having an objective on a resume is old school. Something like, “Skilled, compassionate nurse seeking challenging med/surg position,” is admittedly pretty generic and won’t get noticed. However, if you compose several paragraphs and bullet points detailing your real-world accomplishments (including those that are quantifiable), your summary will be more attractive, especially if you gear it toward the position for which you’re applying.
Keywords — Rather than buzzwords (i.e., team player, collaborative, compassionate), try using keywords directly related to the position in question. For example, if you’re applying for a job in quality improvement, use words that demonstrate related knowledge of quality improvement and quality assurance. Buzzwords can seem empty; keywords can catch the eye. Hint: Steal keywords directly from the ad for the position and the company’s mission statement. Hit them with their own language.
Buzzwords — Unlike keywords, buzzwords are the words you think they want to hear, such as team player, collaborative, efficient. Do these words really describe you or a generic nurse who is kind of like you? Be creative and thoughtful in your use of language; don’t waste precious real estate on lackluster vocabulary.
References — Please do not write “references available upon request” at the bottom of your resume. This is a given. You will be asked for references on the application; that’s the appropriate place for them.
Managers/supervisors — Do not list past or present managers and supervisors on your resume. Managers come and go, and putting someone’s name and phone number on your resume who may no longer be employed at that facility is bad form.
Invest in your resume
A resume needs to be well-written, neat, organized and grammatically flawless. Do you spend money having your hair cut? Do you get your suits dry-cleaned? Do you change the oil in your car? If so, spend money on having your resume edited by a professional; consider it an investment in your marketability.
Finally, review and update your resume every six months. When you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time (apologies to those in Arizona) and change the batteries in your smoke alarms, also review your resume. You never know when you’ll need it, and a solid, updated resume will serve you just like a well-maintained car, a nice haircut and a freshly cleaned suit.