The Nursing Resume and Cover Letter: Make a Statement When Applying for a Job

As your nursing career evolves — through different specialties, roles, skills, and achievements — so should your resume.

A strong resume tells the story of your path through the profession and showcases what you’ve learned and accomplished along the way. compiled the what, how, and why of putting together a resume and cover letter that are sure to wow nurse recruiters and hiring managers.

Top Tips and Best Practices for Nursing Resumes

Each nursing job you apply for is unique. Make sure your resume matches the particulars of each job.

Target your clinical experiences and achievements to that specific opportunity and highlight how you fit in that organization. Do your homework on a facility by examining its website for information about its mission and vision. This will show your interest in not just a job, but also in becoming part of a facility’s culture and goals.

In its resume writing guide, Yale University’s School of Nursing offers these best practices:

  • Limit your resume to one or two pages, depending on your experience level.
  • Avoid packing in too much text, which will make it appear cluttered.
  • Focus on your accomplishments in previous jobs and clinicals, rather than just listing the duties of each positions.
  • Use plenty of active words to describe how you analyzed, communicated, improved, collaborated, managed, assisted, created, etc., in your previous roles.
  • Share other skills and accomplishments that enhance your clinical knowledge such as different languages you speak, public speaking experiences, affiliations with professional or student organizations, knowledge of various software systems, etc.
  • As a last step, don’t forget to edit your resume, as well as asking a friend, colleague, mentor, or family member to look it over.

How to Structure Your Nursing Resume

When building a resume, start with who you are. List your contact information so a hiring manager can reach out directly for an interview. This also lets nurse recruiters know if you’re a local candidate.

The next sections include:

  • Introduction: This short section can include a career objective statement, no longer than three sentences, and a professional profile statement that describes what you offer.
  • Work experience: List all relevant jobs, even outside health care, that showcase skills such as communication, conflict resolution, educating the public and more. Do this in reverse chronological order.
  • Education: Explain your educational path and any unique career-focused experiences such as clinical rotations.
  • Certifications and associations: These will exhibit your interest in continuing education, along with a dedication to being part of professional nursing groups.
  • Volunteer work: Adding current and past volunteer experiences at a church or school or within your community shows your well-rounded interests in health care in and outside the workplace.

Are Cover Letters Still Relevant?

A cover letter might seem archaic to some nurses. In fact, a 2021 survey by found that less than 30% of job seekers still include a cover letter with their resume.

With that in mind, including a cover letter automatically puts you ahead of 70% of the field when seeking jobs.

Think of it as a complement to your resume that acts as a sales pitch …read more

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