It is hard to summarize a lifetime of training and experiences in a single document, but when it comes to a job application, that is exactly what is being asked of candidates. Resumes give employers a quick glimpse into a lifetime of experiences, helping them to decide who to call in for an interview.
For nurses, a resume is an opportunity to put their best foot forward in both current and potential workplaces. Whether a person is a newly registered nurse or has been working in the field for years, keeping an up-to-date, well-tailored resume on hand is critical, especially if he or she has recently completed a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. To stand out from the competition, nurses should be sure that they do the following in creating the document:
1. Include an objective statement.
The purpose of a resume is to obtain an interview, so it is critical for candidates to provide employers with a clear picture of exactly what they wish to accomplish. An effective way to ensure that this information is communicated is to include an objective statement that succinctly summarizes the applicant and his or her goal. According to the American Nurses Association, this portion of the resume should be concise and clear, using action words and quantifiable statements. A potential employer likely already can guess that an applicant is a nurse seeking a position in nursing, so the details are the key.
For example, nursing professionals should consider something along the lines of “Emergency department nurse with 10 years of experience in triage and familiarity with EPIC looking for a position in ER management with opportunities for professional development.” The objective statement should then be supported by the work history and educational qualifications listed in the rest of the resume.
2. Communicate workplace value.
Describing workplace responsibilities is not always enough to impress hiring managers. Instead, resumes should give specific descriptions of accomplishments. While awards and honors are helpful, they are not the only way to express value. Nurses should look for chances to tangibly measure what they accomplish on the job and convey that in the resume. Quantifiable information is ideal, such as the number of employees supervised or the rate that the department’s productivity increased.
Even small details, like the number of patients seen each day, provide a clearer picture of what the nurse accomplished in that particular workplace.
3. Be specific and relevant.
There are a number of different schools of thought when it comes to resume length, but brevity is a good rule of thumb. According to Tony Beshara, author of Unbeatable Resumes, the document should not be more than two pages. One is usually enough for a recent graduate, though a candidate may need more space if the recently completed degree was an MSN pursued after working in the field for several years. However, that recommendation does not mean that an applicant simply can shrink the font size to make all the text fit. The information needs to be easily readable and not force readers to strain their eyes. The final product should be one to two pages of reasonably sized and spaced text.
Sticking with information that is relevant to the position is an important way to keep a resume succinct. Not every previous role is going to be applicable for every single application. Plus, potential employers can tell if the document is generic and has not been tailored to the job listing. While a new resume does not need to be created for each individual job application, the descriptions for work experience can be customized to emphasize the skills that are most relevant, and unnecessary information can be deleted.
4. Highlight clinical experience and areas of expertise.
Simply stating that a candidate has experience as a nurse is too vague to attract the attention of potential employers and earn an interview. The career and salary website Monster.com reported that listing areas of expertise helps to give potential employers an idea of the specific skills that the candidate is particularly adept in. While these specific skills usually will come out in an interview, highlighting them in the resume may be what it takes to earn a face-to-face meeting. Nurses should consider creating a separate section on the document, preferably near the top, where they can list skills such as blood draws, vitals taking, electronic medical record use, urgent care experience and more.
5. Earn an MSN.
To truly stand out from the competition, nurses should consider earning an MSN degree. While a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree was once enough to demonstrate advanced knowledge and dedication to the health care field, the growing number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees means that an undergraduate education increasingly is becoming the norm. An MSN on a resume communicates to potential employers that a professional has the advanced knowledge and training to not only provide exemplary patient care but also lead and train other staff members.
In the online MSN through Bradley University, nurses are able to pursue their education at the time and place of their choosing while continuing to work in the career that they love, gaining valuable on-the-job experience.