Knock It Out of the Park: How to Win the Nursing Resume Game

Knock It Out of the Park: How to Win the Nursing Resume Game

If you’re ready to resume working on your nursing resume, you know it has to shine just the way you will in your new job. Go forward with these expert tips you need to get the job you need. It might even be bigger and better than you expected.

While some things seem obvious, many nurses make unnecessary resume mistakes they simply shouldn’t. “Remember that you’re in the business of healthcare, first and foremost,” says Carmen Kosicek, MSN, RN, author of Nurses, Jobs and Resumes: Resume Revisions for RNs From the New Grad RN to the Experienced RN, as well as, Nurses, Jobs and Money: A Guide to Advancing Your Nursing Career and Salary. Here’s how she’d make your resume stand out.

Don’t just write “letters”

Put only your highest nursing degree next to your name, because online job application scanning programs don’t recognize all those other credentials. Save them for use later on the page.  

Privacy, please

Show only your cell phone and email. If you live in an adjacent town, recruiters may worry that you’ll be late for work—really.

Speak up about language

If you speak another language, even partially, that’s a plus, so state it at the bottom of the resume. Keep their attention down the page.

Sing your customer service praises

Even if you’re just out of school, and you worked at McDonald’s, make the most of it. “That business model taught you phenomenal customer service and hospitals want that,” says Kosicek. “Your skill set includes nursing education and you understand business. Then say, ‘I want to take my skill set to another facility.’”

Quantify to qualify

“No one will know exactly how many fries you sold at that job, but extrapolate a number this way: ‘I excelled at up-selling and usually sold an extra $100 a day because of it,’” says Kosicek.

Write Resumes that Rock

Thanks to Joshua Waldman for the following on-target nursing resume experts. He’s the author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies,recognized as a top authority on social media job search at his blog Career Enlightenment; Pay attention to these must-dos before submitting your resume, says his cohort Adrienne Tom at Career Impressions in Calgary, Canada.

Show supporting skills

“All nurses complete and perform the same education and practicum experience,” she says. “Set yourself apart from other competitors with your ability to translate and demonstrate skills outside the ‘norm,’ or those basic nursing tasks and knowledge.”


Show you can work with and impact other people, she says. Use phrases like “management and initiation of tasks, conflict resolution, and ability to prioritize distribution of care” to convey being well-rounded.

Convince with impact-based statements

Try “Improved ability and dexterity with IV initiation and catheterization,” or “Earned respect of the healthcare team through consistent and reliable performance.”

Keep learning to score better positions and salaries, says Stephanie Smith, owner of Artisan Custom Resumes in Simi Valley, Calif. “A bachelor’s degree has now trumped an associate’s degree. Hospitals want to achieve Magnet Recognition and 80 percent of the RN workforce must now have a BSN. Don’t forget to improve your software and computer skills for use with mandatory electronic health records or EHRs.”

Go lean, not mean

This affects everything from supply usage to getting patients in and out faster. Hiring managers want extremely organized RN’s to work fast on their feet and proactively streamline operations.

Survey says… 

A hot trend: Hospital and facility reimbursements tie to customer surveys. Being “patient-centric” also applies to handling of patients’ families, Smith says.

Make Yours Stand Out

Read carefully before you write, says Sharla Taylor, owner of, an online resume writing service in Richmond Hill, Ga.

Be wise and customize

“Ensure you meet all minimum required qualifications,” she says. “Know the difference between required skills and preferred skills. Educational requirements are non-negotiable.”

Divide and conquer

Consider the resume’s two parts: assertions and evidence. Strategically place assertions in the top half of the first page. Include a headline that announces the target job and a tagline that gives a personal statement of authenticity, purpose, and value. Include a section titled “Career Summary” or "Performance Highlights" with a brief synopsis of three-to-five of important career achievements. The assertion section evokes curiosity and entices the reader to continue reading your resume—just what you want, Taylor says.

Be human

Write your career story with a human voice to spark interest, she says.

Don’t limit yourself

One resume size does not fit all, says Marylane Wade Koch, MSN, RN and staff writer and editor at Written by a Pro. “Hospital nurses with experience in critical care may pursue work in a community setting such as a home care agency. Tailor your resume to the practice you seek and demonstrate specific transferable skills.”

Format that

Select the appropriate format, resume or curriculum vitae (CV), when applying for a specific position, Koch says. Jobs in nursing education, academia, and research typically require a CV, while a role in a clinical setting may warrant a resume. “Nurses targeting diverse job markets could need both a resume and a CV.”

Think bigger now

“First, know that the Affordable Care Act or ACA brings major new opportunities for nurses, says Koch. “With emphasis on prevention, the ACA supports advanced practice nurses as leaders in providing primary care, creating a need for nurses to pursue higher education to become Doctors in Nursing Practice or DNPs.”

For more details, visit the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing (OJIN) published by the American Nurses Association and read The Affordable Care Act: Primary Care and the Doctor of Nursing Practice Nurse

Now that you have a monster resume, check out the great nursing jobs on