5 tips for creating a winning resume

A resume is your first and sometimes only chance to make a positive impression on a potential employer. As manager of nurse recruitment at UCLA Health in Los Angeles, Sheri Monsein, MN, RN, receives an abundance of resumes. But in order to make your resume stand out, Monsein said follow these guidelines.

Target a specific employer

Great resumes demonstrate the candidates have conducted due diligence and researched information about the hospital where they are applying. “I want to have a candidate show how their experience, skills and personality are a good fit for UCLA Health,” Monsein said. “I’m aware they want a job, but why do they want to work here specifically? Are they interested in working at a research hospital? Do they share our vision and mission? I encourage applicants to tell me what appeals to them about the particular job and working here as opposed to another healthcare setting.”

List the proper contact information

When she’s calling to schedule an interview or make an offer, Monsein wants to reach candidates in a timely manner. “List a cell phone number and make sure you have a professional outgoing message,” she said. “Also list an email address that you check frequently.” While some people advise not listing a full street address to prevent identity theft, Monsein wants candidates to at least list a city and state, so she can determine whether she needs to factor in relocation costs when making an offer.

Make sure it’s well-written – and spell-checked

Monsein looks for resumes that are well-crafted and that highlight the candidate’s skills and experience. This doesn’t necessarily mean paying someone to write your resume, but Monsein said it does involve searching for templates online and asking for a colleague or mentor to critique your resume. “Grammar and spelling errors can automatically disqualify candidates,” she said. Cover letters addressed to the wrong person or hospital are often not considered.

Don’t omit job experience

Monsein said she often sees new graduates who neglect to list their job experiences outside of nursing thinking they will not be relevant to the employer. She disagreed. “Seeing that a candidate has worked at McDonald’s or Abercrombie shows they have learned customer service and time-management skills,” Monsein said. “And if they worked while attending school, it typically eases their transition from student to full-time employee.”

List prior volunteer experience

If candidates have volunteered through their church or within their community, nurse recruiters want to hear about it. “I don’t look for a one-time volunteer stint, but if someone has shown the initiative to go on a medical mission or to work at a nonprofit, it supplements their work experience and can demonstrate both leadership and compassion,” Monsein said.

An extra nugget of advice

For nurses who have been out of the job force for longer than five years, Monsein recommended enrolling in a re-entry program before sending out resumes. “Treatments, medications and technology can change quickly in healthcare,” she said. “If you’ve been unemployed while you raise a family, a re-entry course can bring you up to speed.”

For nurses who are considering taking a leave from nursing, Monsein encouraged them to continue working on a per diem basis, rather than completely leaving the profession. “It’s easier to stay current with your skills by working one weekend a month,” she said. •

Linda Childers, a freelance writer, contributed to the writing and research of this article.

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About the author
Sallie Jimenez

Sallie Jimenez 

Senior Nursing Editor Sallie Jimenez develops and edits content for OnCourse Learning’s Nurse.com blog, which covers industry news and trends in the nursing profession and healthcare. She has more than 22 years of healthcare journalism, content marketing and editing experience.

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