Writing a new grad nursing resume is like trying to bake a cake without a recipe. You’re applying for a nursing job, you don’t have nursing experience, and they know you don’t have nursing experience. How do you bake this cake, I mean, write this resume?
Here’s how to write a new grad nursing resume when you lack experience. Also see Sample New Grad Resume
Your resume is the first impression your potential employer has of you. You have one shot, and there are no do-overs.
To land an interview, your resume must stand out from all the other resumes of equally qualified and inexperienced applicants. Here’s how:
Use a Functional Hybrid Format not a Traditional Chronological Format
Compelling resumes are skills based. A functional resume is a skills-based resume. This is especially useful when constructing a resume with lack of experience. You may not have relevant work experience, but you do have skills.
Use keywords from the job posting for your skills.
Contrary to what you may have been taught, a resume doesn’t have to be in any pre-ordained, chronological order. It can be in any order you like. Top load the items you want the employer to see first, as Education and NCLEX date because those are necessary qualifications.
(Graduation date and school are all you need under Education, not a list of clinical rotations unless one of the rotations was at the hospital you’re applying at or you did a senior practiccum in a specialty area or some other strategic reason)
List the skills-based section before the chronological work-based section.
Here’s one way:
- Qualifications, Certifications and Education
- Professional Skills
- Volunteer Experience
- Work Experience
If you have volunteer experience, this is worth putting in its own category. All things being equal, the candidate with volunteer experience may be the one to land the job.
Don’t include these in your New Grad nursing Resume
Don’t include Yawners, Sleepers and Snoozers.
Yawners are lengthy and wordy descriptions of your clinical hours. Painful to read, they do not set you apart.
Sleepers are clichés, over used terms and buzzwords. “Team-player, detail-oriented”. They will not help you get an interview.
Snoozers are skills such as “starts IVs, “passes meds”. These are a given.
Qualifications- RN license, date of graduation and/or NCLEX, BLS and other certifications. While these should be listed, they do not set you apart from other equally qualified candidates.
Hard skills only if they help you to stand out, such as experience with Cerner if they use Cerner, or Epic if you know they are migrating to Epic. Hard skills are teachable skills.
Soft skills: These are transferable skills you’ve gained during school, extra-curricular activities, volunteering or in previous non-nursing jobs.
Soft skills set you apart. Harder to quantify, soft skills are less tangible and are often interpersonal skills. Employers look for candidates with strong soft skills because these are indicators of success on the job.
What Nurse Managers Look For
Critical thinking/ you can prioritize what to do first and you have a rationale
Customer service/you understand patient satisfaction is tied to reimbursement
Safe Practice/you do not know everything and you are teachable and open to instruction
Delegation skills/you can work in a team environment as a leader
Loyalty/you have loyalty as a core value
A good fit/you understand the importance of a culturally good fit on the unit and in the organization
Interpersonal skills/you are a good listener, you are articulate and engaging
Give Examples in your Nursing Resume
Give examples of your great skills . Were you ever selected as Employee of the Month? (teamwork). Did you consistently earn high tips while waitressing? (customer service).
Did you study abroad? Do you know a second language? Have you supervised others? Are you composed under stress?
Working in retail doesn’t compare to working as a nurse, but if you were at a job a year or more, it shows reliability and loyalty. Did you tutor other students in school? (helpful).
Did you sell Mary Kay cosmetics? You may laugh, but working for yourself shows a lot of initiative .
Have you served in roles at church, taught in the nursery or led a group study? Helped plan a retreat? All of these experiences have garnered you transferable skills.
Finally, look over your nursing resume with a new eye. Imagine you are reading it for the first time-as a potential employer.
Every single thing included in your resume should answer the question “Why should we hire you?”
You are going for a nursing job that you believe you will be good at, so your job is to prove this to the employer.
Best of luck. Do you have tips that have helped you or other new grads write their resume that may help others? I’d love to hear them. Also check out bluepipes Resume Tips for New Grads. It’s a great all-around site.
Until next time friend,
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You can also come visit me at Ask Nurse Beth career column at allnurses.com for all kinds of entertaining and informative career questions and answers, and to submit your own question 🙂