Close up of a woman in glasses holding her resume

How to Write a Nursing Resume

Highlight Your Qualifications and Skills to Potential Employers

Close up of a woman in glasses holding her resume

Nursing is one of the fastest-growing in the United States, but just because more career opportunities exist for nurses doesn’t mean that you get to skip all the fun of job hunting. You still need to locate the right position, fill out the application, and submit a sparkling resume. With considerable opportunities and varied requirements from numerous employers, every nurse should put their best foot forward so they can market themselves for the right positions.

However, the world of online job postings and robotic resume readers can make this process more complicated when it comes to passing the first round of interviews. Our blog post will help you by delving into the specifics of how to create the ideal nursing resume for you. We’ll provide you with tips, templates, and more.

It would be a shame for a great candidate to be passed over for a job because of a sub-par resume, so read our guide to get started and write an exemplary nursing resume.

(Click here to learn how to become a nurse or view some of the highest paying nursing jobs.)

Understanding the Purpose of Your Nursing Resume

A resume is your first (and sometimes only) chance to make a good impression. Think about it like this: Your resume is like a marketing campaign for yourself! The goal of any nursing resume is to captivate the interest of an employer and land a job interview. Not only do resumes showcase your qualifications and skills, but they essentially act as your brand. You want to demonstrate your professionalism as well as your personality.

Keep in mind that some employers use a resume-reading robot to screen applicants. Even then, resumes that pass this process may only last for 10-15 seconds in the hands of a hiring manager. We say this to prepare you, not to discourage you—we want you to gain a better understanding from this article.

Speaking of our guide’s purpose, we also want to go over the difference between a resume and a CV (curriculum vitae). These two documents serve different purposes in the job application process. A resume is a concise summary of a candidate’s professional background, focusing on relevant skills, work experiences, and achievements.

While a resume is often tailored for job applications in the private sector, a CV is a comprehensive document that provides a detailed overview of a candidate’s entire career. They are generally used in academic, research, or medical fields to showcase a range of accomplishments and qualifications over a long period of time.

Essential Components of a Nursing Resume

In your resume, you’ll want to include several main sections. These segments should contain contact information, a summary or objective statement of your career goals and intentions, a complete outline of your work experience, a thorough educational background, and a list of appropriate certifications or licenses. You should also include a section that highlights important skills of the nursing profession.

Together, these sections will provide potential employers with an overview of a candidate’s qualifications and professional history. They will use this snapshot to easily determine their suitability for a given position.

Crafting a Strong Summary or Objective Statement

Like a resume and a CV, there’s a difference between a summary and an objective statement. While a summary offers a speedy glimpse into your professional background, an objective statement focuses on your career goals from the desired position. Essentially, an objective statement outlines what you would like to accomplish in this role and how the position is a great fit for your overall career goals.

When it comes to crafting an objective statement, you really want to make your words count. Take this opportunity to put your best foot forward. Remember to include specific information that sets you apart as a candidate—don’t just drop in a paragraph of vague buzzwords.

For the professional summary, you’ll want to curate the wording for a specific role. We suggest that you incorporate information like the below:

  • Years of experience in a nursing specialty
  • Keywords you might find in job descriptions, such as excellent patient care, family education, etc.
  • Information about facilities you’ve worked in or facility designations
  • If applicable, supervisory experience as well as your total number of subordinates
  • Unique awards and certifications
  • Language skills
  • Soft skills, i.e., compassionate, diligent nature, collaborative, etc.

African-American nurse kneeling beside a patient in a wheelchair

Showcasing Work Experience

It’s crucial that you emphasize relevant work experience, such as clinical rotations, internships, and nursing positions. You must demonstrate your practical skills and competencies on your resume, not to mention your familiarity with various healthcare settings. It would be great to include exact numbers, such as how many patients you covered per shift, the exact responsibilities you carried, and any improvements you left behind. If you’re a newer nurse, share related experience to give the recruiter a better idea of your capabilities.

“I am attracted to new nurse resumes that have service industry experience,” says Keith Kaiser, nurse manager at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who frequently hires new nurses. “This means the applicant has patience, can deal with people, and is used to shift work.”

Basically, potential employers want to know why they should hire you. Many recruiters will place a particular focus on this section in your resume. So, what do they want to see, specifically? Evidence and facts rather than vague work histories. To try and avoid these pitfalls, use the following tips for your resume:

  • Incorporate simple yet effective headers. Use titles like relevant experience and work history. You don’t want to say things like “What I’ve Accomplished.” The latter doesn’t sound as professional as our suggestions.
  • Use reverse chronological order when listing work experience. If you’re a candidate with an extensive employment history, you may want to limit your resume to the last decade or so. Not only do you want to avoid age discrimination, but your experience from decades past might not mean much when it comes to your current nursing skills. Remember: Employers want to know what you can do for them now.

Highlighting Education and Certifications

If you think about it, certifications and education are incredibly important in the field of healthcare. They demonstrate that a nurse is competent and credible. Essentially, they are often a source of safety and comfort for the public. Patients and employers are more likely to trust a healthcare professional if they understand their qualifications.

In addition, technology and the world of healthcare require that nurses stay up to date with the latest medical advancements. When presenting educational qualifications and certifications on a resume, we recommend that you place them at the top of your resume. If it’s buried at the bottom, there’s a chance the reader may not make it that far. So, any certifications, credentials, or other job-specific qualifications should be given the best resume real estate at the top of the page.

According to, it’s best to feature your relevant degrees in chronological order. They have stated that the degree or certification title should be listed first. This is because employers first want to see that you meet a certain education requirement. Where you obtained the requirement is secondary but still important. suggests the following format: Degree or Certification Title (acronym), Institution Name. 

Emphasizing Skills

Recruiters are looking for particular nursing skills that emphasize a candidate’s ability to provide their patients with fantastic patient care, great communication, critical thinking skills, and technical proficiency. To successfully integrate these skills into your resume, you will need to include specific situations where you demonstrated these skills.

To do this, try the following tips when you list your work experiences, clinical rotations, or education:

  • Use succinct bullet points to highlight achievements and responsibilities that demonstrate each skill.
  • Mention successful outcomes for patient care or specific initiatives that improved patient experiences.
  • Highlight your communication skills by emphasizing successful collaboration with multidisciplinary teams or instances where clear communication clearly impacted patient care.
  • Include concrete examples that show your critical thinking abilities, such as resolving a challenging patient or implementing an efficient healthcare process.
  • Demonstrate technical proficiency by detailing your experience with relevant medical equipment, electronic health record systems, or any certifications related to technical skills.

Incorporating Keywords

Keywords are absolutely vital when it comes to the modern resume screening process. Why? Many employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help them screen candidates. This means that resumes with relevant keywords are more likely to pass through the initial screening and reach human eyes. As you can see, appropriate keywords must be added to your resume to help ensure its success.

You can find relevant keywords in the job posting. Create a list of qualifications, skills, experiences, and industry terms that are mentioned. Prioritize recurring words or phrases that seem essential to the role. Once you have a completed list, naturally integrate these keywords into your resume. Add them to the professional summary, skills section, work experience descriptions, and any other appropriate sections.

How to Tailor Your Resume for Specific Nursing Roles

In this competitive job market, you must adapt your resume for each application. This is vital because it proves that you diligently reviewed the job application and will be a great fit for the role. In other words, it’ll help you stand out among the other applicants. Keep in mind that each nursing specialty requires unique skills, experiences, and qualifications. You must customize your resume to highlight the most relevant aspects of your background that align with the unique requirements of the position.

For instance, a pediatric nurse applicant should highlight their work history in pediatric care, their varied communication skills, and their ability to cooperate with distressed parents. In conclusion, adjusting your resume for individual nursing roles involves identifying the requirements of each role and emphasizing your applicable skills, experiences, and qualifications.

Young medical professional in glasses using a computer

Formatting and Design Tips for Your Nursing Resume

It’s best to create a resume that’s clean, professional, and easy to read. You want to appeal to potential employers with a visually pleasing design that also meets their needs. Below are some guidelines to help you craft a sophisticated resume:

  • Clean Design: Your resume should have a polished and uncluttered design. Use a professional font and maintain consistent spacing and margins throughout the document.
  • Suitable Font: Choose a readable font, such as Times New Roman, in a size between 10 to 12 points for the main body text. Headings should be a little larger to create structure and a visually appealing design.
  • Consistent Formatting: Maintain consistency in font styles, bullet points, headings, and subheadings. Use the same bullet point style throughout the document to organize information.
  • Bold Headings: Use clear and bold headings to categorize sections (e.g., Contact Information, Summary, Education, Work Experience, Skills). This helps recruiters quickly navigate and locate key information.
  • Deliberate Use of White Space: Utilize white space to give your resume a clean and organized look. Avoid cramming too much information into a small space.
  • Add Bullet Points: Present information using bullet points to ensure conciseness and improve readability. Each bullet point should be a brief, impactful statement highlighting an achievement, responsibility, or skill.
  • Alignment and Indentation: Maintain consistent alignment and indentation to create a professional and structured appearance. Keep all text left-aligned for easy reading.
  • Include Subheadings: Incorporate subheadings under each section to further organize and categorize content, aiding in readability and quick information retrieval.

The Importance of Proofreading and Editing Your Resume

This might seem like a common-sense point to include, but you would be surprised how many resumes and cover letters arrive on recruiters’ desks with errors in spelling and grammar. Think about it from their perspective: If you aren’t detail-oriented enough to spell-check your resume, are you detail-oriented enough to keep a patient alive?

Give your resume and cover letter a second (or a third) look, then ask a friend or family member to take a look as well. This may seem like a lot of redundant work, but if it ends with you landing that new job, it will have been well worth it. To ensure error-free content, use grammar and spell-check tools, read your resume aloud, and pay close attention to formatting consistency. In addition, remember to check dates, names, certifications, and contact information. You might want to ask a trusted friend or colleague to proofread your resume as well.

How to Add a Professional Touch to Your Resume

If you want your application to stand out, you should include more than a polished resume. Consider adding a cover letter, references, and a LinkedIn profile to boost your chances. A cover letter allows you to introduce yourself, express your interest in the position, and provide more context about your qualifications and experiences. References are another valuable addition that can validate the information in your resume. Try to include references from previous supervisors or colleagues who can vouch for your work ethic, skills, and character.

Last but certainly not least is a well-curated LinkedIn profile. It’s an exceptional platform to showcase your professional network, join relevant nursing groups, share industry-related articles, and engage in discussions. Before you apply for jobs, ensure that your LinkedIn profile is active and up to date. You want to demonstrate your networking abilities and ongoing engagement with the healthcare community.

Aerial view of medical professionals sitting around a table that says JOBS

Sample Nursing Resume Templates

There are a number of resume templates that you can find online. If you’d like more help, you can also find templates on websites like Top Resume or They will provide you with guidance on how to create a resume that’s right for you.

Use your chosen template as a jumping-off point for creating your own resume. Change the content so that it matches your qualifications and experiences, not to mention the specific nursing position you’d like to acquire. To help you get started, we’ve summarized some types of nursing resumes from You can also directly access their resume templates here.

  1. Reverse Chronological Nursing Resume: This type of resume places an emphasis on career history and lists your jobs in reverse chronological order. This layout is great for most healthcare professionals.
  2. Functional Nursing Resume: While this resume highlights skills, it downplays work history and does not pass the ATS test well. Some hiring managers do not prefer it for this very reason. The functional nursing resume can be good for career changers or those who have large gaps in employment.
  3. Combination Nursing Resume: This resume is a mix of the two types that we just discussed. It emphasizes skills, abilities, accomplishments, and applicable work history. In general, this resume type can benefit nurses with experience in several specialties, travel nurses with more than 10 completed assignments, nurses who have various small gaps in their employment history, and nurses who would like to change specialties or careers.

Start Your Educational Journey to Become a Nurse

Although it can be daunting to create your resume, we hope you’ve come away from this article with a better understanding of how to craft the ideal nursing resume. Start by analyzing each job role before you customize your resume to highlight specific skills, experiences, and qualifications. Remember to demonstrate essential skills like patient care and technical proficiency. Use keywords from the job description in your resume. Don’t forget to proofread and edit!

We encourage nurses to use these insights and strategies when constructing their resumes. Think about it like this: Your resume is both a tool and a pitch that can greatly impact your professional opportunities. If you incorporate relevant skills, keywords, and content, you will improve your chances of acquiring interviews and job prospects.

At Unitek College, we offer dynamic nursing programs that are designed to prepare aspiring healthcare professionals for success. Learn about our specialized curriculums for the Vocational Nursing program, the LVN-to-BSN advanced placement option, and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Our goal is to equip you with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful nursing career.

Best of luck on your journey!