Musings of a Nightshift Nurse

How to Write a Kickass Nursing Resume (for new grads)

How to Write a Kickass Nursing Resume (for new grads)

How to build a nursing resume
Wow, it’s FINALLY time for you to start applying to actual nursing jobs. The years full of early mornings, clinical write-ups, and mental breakdowns are coming to an end. Now, you need to show off all your hard work. For whatever reason, I have a weird obsession with editing resumes and resume-building. I’ve edited a few senior nursing students’ resumes this week, and figured that now is a good time for this post, as lots of new-grad positions are opening up. For those of you who are already nurses, this post is specifically for the new grad nurse resume. Let’s get started.

  • Your header. First name, middle initial, and last name in bold.
  • Underneath, put your mailing address, city with state and zip code, and phone number.
  • Next, an objective. While this is not necessary, it does make your resume a little bit different from the others while making it personable. Put 2-3 sentences describing yourself and your skills, and finish with what your objective is. This is an example of what I put for mine:

OBJECTIVE: I am a dynamic leader and team builder, consistently motivating others. I have a unique combination of impeccable organizational, analytical, and communicative skills, in addition to a proven ability to work effectively, both independently and within a team. I am desiring a position as a new graduate RN in the ICU.

  • Below this, put your education. Clarify that you’re a current senior with your projected graduation month and year. Put the type of program you’re in (ex. BSN), and your school, the city, and state. Put your GPA. If you received any academic or sports scholarships, include that you’re a _____ scholarship recipient. If you were on the Dean’s List, put what years. If you were in a nursing honor society put that here. If you plan to graduate with Honors, put it down.
  • Certifications. Put your current certifications here. BLS/CPR. If you’re looking into a step-down unit, ICU, or emergency department, get ACLS certified your senior year. If you’re thinking about working in pediatrics, get your PALS before you apply. This is going to make you stand out against other applicants that didn’t do this. Also, if you’re in a BSN program, most programs automatically qualify you for your PHN certification post-graduation, due to your community health rotation. Under certifications, I also put: “Completed PHN Certificate requirements of 90 hours in community health nursing.”
  • Clinical Experience. This is where you list out all your clinicals: what hospital they were at, how many hours completed, what type of unit, and dates. If you completed extra clinicals/preceptorships/externships, put them here as well.

Desk with laptop

  • Leadership. Here’s another opportunity to make your resume stand out from the others. And this involves you doing more than just showing up to class and doing your homework. This is where you really need to get out there and sign up for everything possible to build your resume. For example, I was the president of our pinning committee. We planned our pinning ceremony. This shows leadership. I additionally was on the board for our student nurses association. More leadership. I mentored student nurses below me, and went to nursing student conferences. It’s easy to join clubs at school. Employers want to see that you’re passionate about your interests, and these don’t even have to be nursing related. Join a political, cultural, or artistic club on campus. They want to see if you’re going to be a leader and be involved on your unit once hired.
  • Work Experience. List all your prior work experience, even if not nursing related. This shows you have work ethic, and time management, if you held a job throughout nursing school.
  • Volunteer & Community Service. List these out with the location, year, and a brief description underneath each of the events. Sign up for a medical missions trip, volunteer for the homeless in your community, see if you can volunteer for some of the hospitals in your area. If you have any connections, see if you can shadow a nurse or doctor. Be a volunteer at a run that supports a good cause. See if you can participate in a flu shot clinic. Fundraise for a foundation in need. Just google search for volunteer opportunities in your area. There’s always plenty of options. You should have quite a few of these listed.

  • Scrubs & Beyond

  • Professional Organizations. This is another section not everyone includes but I think is important. List out the professional organizations you belong to, or join at least one related to the specialty you want to go into. For example, I wanted to work in the ICU. So I joined the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). Each specialty has their own professional organization, AND usually has a discounted student membership price. So what does membership get you? You’ll get emails and sometimes journal articles that keep you updated on the latest nursing practice in that specialty. What does that mean to employers? This shows that you genuinely care about that specialty and are up to date with current practice. Additionally, most of the managers that will interview you probably love that organization, considering they work in the specialty that you joined. They’ll love that you both are members and can give you something to talk about and bond over. Another plus is that you can bring this up in your interview, which I’ll discuss in another post on the nursing interview. But saying you’re a member of a professional nursing organization shows your devotion to the field and an appreciation of nursing research. If you don’t know what specialty you’re going for, you can join the American Nurses Association, or another more generic organization.
  • That’s it! Your resume should be kept under two pages, and be as simple as possible. Don’t use fluff words, be straight to the point. There’s been studies that show that employers take an average of 15 seconds max to review a resume. So make yours easy to read, emphasize your successes, and participate in extracurriculars that make you stand out! The hard work that went into my resume got me interviews and a job offer at my dream hospital before I graduated, with no personal connections. It’s possible, and you can do it too.

Questions for me?  Comment below!



7 thoughts on “How to Write a Kickass Nursing Resume (for new grads)”

  • Thanks for this post! I have a couple people who I’m going to share this with, particularly my sister who is working in the healthcare field and wants to be a PA!

  • Hey Marissa! Thanks for the helpful advice. I am a nursing student at SDSU also working at Sharp Memorial as a nursing assistant and just read your article posted on SharpNet! I was wondering if you could give me more information about how to obtain PHN certification after graduation in December or direct me to where I can find the requirements for it. Will the 90 hours of my community health course meet this?

    • Hey Hannah! Thanks so much for reading! Yes, if you’re getting your BSN, the 90 hours of community does count. So once you take nclex and get your RN, you can use the form below to submit your PHN application. You’ll have to request from SDSU your official transcripts to send to the BRN, and then pay the $150 fee (tax deductible). Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂

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