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Four Tips for Crafting Your First Nursing Resume

If you're preparing for the NCLEX® exam and gearing up to begin your career in nursing, it's important to start thinking about crafting your resume. This can feel somewhat overwhelming for many nursing students. After all, becoming a certified nurse requires an abundance of academic and clinical work that may seem impossible to fit onto a piece of paper. Moreover, since nursing is such a specialized career, your resume will look very different from the standard used across other industries. There's no need to fret though, your academic and professional experiences can speak for themselves - it's just a matter of presenting the information articulately. Here are four tips for crafting your first nursing resume:

Summarize your credentials 
While traditional resumes may include an objective near the top of the page, this section has grown somewhat outdated.1 That's because an objective focuses on what you broadly hope to accomplish rather than what you bring to the table. Instead, create a professional summary that showcases your skills, qualifications, and experiences in a format that is to the point. This also gives you an opportunity to tailor your resume to the position by highlighting experiences that are relevant to that role. 

Clinical experiences 
Provide information regarding your clinical experiences in much detail, including dates and locations. Make sure to emphasize clinical roles that are related to the job for which you are applying. For nursing students looking to enter the job market, this is a crucial section since it likely includes many of your professional experiences outside of the classroom.2

Be direct 
Remember that hiring managers in hospitals and practices are likely already extremely busy. Odds are they'll have a lot of resumes to sift through, so it's important to make sure your resume directly showcases why you're the right candidate for the job.3 Language that is wishy-washy or longwinded will make you seem less confident. Furthermore, direct language will allow you to keep your resume concise, organized and well formatted. 

Volunteer work 
Don't be shy about including volunteer work that is related to your field. Volunteer experiences demonstrate initiative and work ethic, two very important qualities for good nurses. If you have extensively worked with specific volunteer organizations, go into more detail and list how you contributed.

Lastly, remember to edit and re-edit your resume on a regular basis. Then ask a peer or mentor to proofread and provide commentary on your resume to ensure it looks its best before submitting it for a position. 



1 "5 Essential Tips on How to Craft Your Nursing Resume" by Michelle Wong. December 14, 2011.

2 "FAQs about Student Nurse Résumés" by Donna Cardillo, RN. June 1, 2012.

3 "Nursing Resumes: 3 Tips to Make Yours Stand Out" Career Cast Nursing Network.


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