Resume Guide for Nurses: How to Tailor Your Nursing Resume

If you’re a new nursing graduate, or a healthcare professional with years of experience, the first thing to do is write a resume for your nursing career that accurately and convincingly reflects your skills and qualifications.

This important document will be the first impression that you make to a hiring manager. You must create a resume which creatively addresses their requirements, and highlights all of your achievements.

Even personal qualities should be emphasized in a way that emphasizes their practical applications (e.g., how your compassionate nature enables you to connect with patients or your bilingualism helps you accommodate diverse populations as a nurse). Personal qualities can be used to highlight practical application (e.g. how compassion helps you connect with your patients, or your bilingualism allows you to accommodate different populations).

Specificity can help make your resume stand out. This guide will teach you how to customize your nursing resume according to the employer’s job description and mission.

What to Include in a Nursing CV

You must do extensive research to learn how to create a resume for a nurse. This will allow you to tailor the information that is presented to your prospective employer. In addition to carefully reading the job description and the social media pages of the company, you should also look at their website.

Other healthcare facilities are more interested in nurses who have clinical experience. Discover what the employer is looking for in a candidate and then tailor your resume accordingly. You should also consider whether the position will allow you to achieve your goals in terms of professional development and happiness.

When responding to the criteria of an employer, be sure to include education, certifications, and experience. Create an outline based on these points. Be sure to elaborate where needed and make your tone approachable. It is also important to admit your weaknesses. Employers want nurses who can admit their weaknesses and work to improve.

Expand your outline and organize it by using logical headings to group key sentences. The final product must be accessible and detailed. The hiring manager scans a resume in just a few seconds before making a decision on whether or not to accept the candidate for the next stage of the process. Don’t go crazy with color and font changes. Instead, use a visually appealing resume that is well formatted. Be concise and tidy.

Preferred Qualifications vs. Preferential Qualifications

Writing a resume for a nurse is all about addressing the specifications of a prospective employer. It’s crucial to determine the required and preferred qualifications for a job before you begin writing.

Job postings include a long list of requirements, either mandatory or preferable. This is because this career requires advanced training and education in addition to nursing licensure. The required criteria is the minimum qualifications that a candidate needs to meet in order for them to be considered. While preferred is a list of skills, experience, or character traits which are desirable but not necessary.

A resume that is effective will show how the applicant meets the required qualifications, and also as many preferred qualifications as they can without overwhelming the page or making the information unreadable. A cover letter can be used by nurses to fill out additional qualifications and provide anecdotal data and evidence.

Some healthcare establishments reject candidates who don’t meet all the requirements, but most view job listings as guidelines and not checklists. If a nurse is not able to meet the requirements, but can still impress in the interview, then they are encouraged to apply.

Find Online BSN to Rn Programs

There are many different types of nursing resumes.

A resume is a representation of the person. It shows their educational standing, achievements in professional life, personality traits, and potential career. What is the best way to write a resume for a nurse that includes all of these things? Format your resume correctly.

Three main formats exist, all with a unique format and purpose. These are the reverse chronological resume, the functional and the combination. The resume format that nurses use should be based on their skill sets and position.

Reverse Chronological

The most commonly used resume type, this form benefits nurses who possess extensive and relevant professional experience. Here, past employment is the most important element, with positions listed in reverse chronological order. However, this reliable resume structure comes with drawbacks, as it can highlight gaps in employment, frequent job changes, and the candidate’s age.


Also referred to as the skill-based resume, this format highlights awards, accomplishments, and training, making it preferable for recent college graduates and other professionals who lack relevant work history. One of the major drawbacks of the functional resume is that it can expose a candidate’s limited experience in the nursing field.


The most complex resume type, the combination format eschews the either-or structure of the previous forms, enabling professionals to showcase relevant professional experience and skills and training. Experienced nurses, especially those with clinical specializations, benefit most from this resume form. However, versatility also renders it more difficult to construct, as the large amount of information can confuse readers if not conveyed clearly.

What should I include on my nursing resume?

The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a standard way to list all of your credentials. Education, licensing, state designations and certifications are the preferred sections. Awards and honors and other certifications can be added at any time. Work backwards from your highest-level degree.

It is not necessary to list your high school or date of graduation. You can indicate that you’re currently working towards a degree by stating “Completion is Pending or In Progress”. You can choose to provide GPA data. It is generally only worth it if you have graduated within the past three years with a GPA of 3.5 and above.

Start by displaying your professional nursing experiences in reverse chronological sequence, beginning with the most recent or current position. Prepare to fill in any gaps. List facility and unit specific information such as total beds, trauma level, and demographics of patients. When writing your nursing resume, be specific.

While both jobs require stamina and dedication, the responsibilities of a nurse in a nursing facility are different from those of an emergency care nurse. Your resume will stand out from the crowd if you frame your professional experiences through a unique personal perspective.

This section of the resume is the one that benefits the most from the use of keywords. By analyzing the description of the position, you can often determine what skills employers are looking for. This section should be tailored to fit those requirements. Sort your categories into basic care, computer and administrative skills, or technical.

List your goals and be specific. Instead of “defibrillation insertions,” list “automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator insertions.” Do not forget to include soft skills in the nursing curriculum

You’ve obtained a nursing license specific to your state as a registered nurse. You may also have completed certification exams or post-degree training, such as in gerontology and cardiac-vascular nursing. Avoid acronyms and list them as they are.

Use the following order for licenses: type of license, state/body that issues licenses, name and license number, compact nurse license, and date expiration. Start with the certification name and then add any applicable certification numbers, as well as the organization that issued it.

Do not be afraid to celebrate your achievements. But do so in an honest and sincere way, reflecting both your commitment to nursing as well as the ability for you perform at a high level in your new role. This may be academic recognition, official awards, competitive fellowships, grants and internships. Display memberships in professional associations, like the American Nurses Association and Sigma Theta Tau.

You may have a lot of achievements and awards as an experienced professional. If this is the case, you should narrow down your list to only the awards and accomplishments that are relevant to the position for which you’re applying.

Employers will know that you are committed to community outreach and education by your unpaid work. Include only volunteer positions that are related to the nursing field or health care. When writing a resume for a nurse, it is important to include specifics that show your abilities in action.

What should I include on my nursing resume if I don’t have any experience?

It can be overwhelming for recent graduates or professionals who are changing careers to learn how to create a resume. Use a hybrid functional resume that puts academic qualifications and skills ahead of the employment section to compensate for your lack of experience. You may have also completed extensive training while a student or as part of your continuing education. Highlight state licensing, optional certification and membership in an organization to bolster the resume.

Begin with a professional introduction, which goes beyond the obvious (that is you are looking for a job) and also includes your nursing values and training. Functional resumes can be prone to a lack of context. You can avoid this pitfall by applying your skills to real-life work situations that are related to the duties of a nurse.

Managers of hospitals are looking for employees with skills such as customer service and communication, critical thinking, safety, and safe practices. You have completed clinical hours as a student nurse. Employers will be impressed by your abilities when you can demonstrate them.

Give them their own section to demonstrate that not only do you have the qualifications needed for the position, but are also passionate about patient care and healthcare equity for all.

What is a resume-reading robot/ATS?

Many employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to deal with the flood of applicants. The ATS categorizes and ranks nursing resumes based on how many keywords are included. This is similar to a hiring manager scanning through the crowd for the standout candidates. The automated system reduces the manual work of an employer and identifies candidates with resumes that are filled out, indicating they may not be qualified.

The ATS can also reject nurses who are qualified as part of software automated processes. In order to avoid an unfair result, it is important that you learn how to create a resume for a nurse within the ATS framework.

    • Simple Headers: To accommodate the ATS, use header terms common enough to show up in keyword searches, such as “skills,” “professional experience,” and “education.” Do not neglect to include city, state, and, if living outside the U.S., country, because employers generally vet candidates by location.


    • Clean Format: Engaging visuals are useless if they make your resume difficult to read. Use a simple format that contains no graphics or unusual fonts because the standard ATS cannot process such information, resulting in an automatic rejection. In general, Verdana, Tahoma, and Arial fonts at the 10.5 point size or above are acceptable.


    • Keywords/Phrases: You can usually glean relevant keywords from the job description. If not, conduct some research into phrases commonly found in the nursing field, such as “patient care,” “clinical research,” and “community outreach.” Avoid abbreviations in all cases.


    • Industry-Specific Jargon: ATS keywords reveal a candidate’s relevant skills and experiences. The more specific a keyword is to the particular position you are applying for, the better. When in doubt, use the hiring employer’s phrases first, industry standards second, and your current or previous employer’s terminology third.



In Summary

    • Choose the nursing resume type that best highlights your experience, personality, and qualifications.
    • Be specific; specificity helps your resume stand out from the rest.
    • Format your resume using headers and keywords that make it easy to read — whether by a person or an applicant tracking system.

Nursing Scholarships and Grants – Best Nursing Scholarships

Survival Tips for Nurses Working the Night Shift

Men In Nursing Enter a Predominantly Female Career Field

The Impact of Sleep on Your Patients & You

Is an Online Nursing Degree Program Right for You?