November 9, 2011

Nursing School Resume Tips

Updated: December 21, 2016

You've graduated, and congratulations are in order. Take a day or two to relax, reflect, and enjoy life. Days of long clinicals and you reading 50 chapters a week are behind you now. It's time to study for one last exam, that NCLEX-RN examination, and then you're on to bigger and better things. Yes, the NCLEX-RN exam is overwhelming and studying is imperative. But, often institutions hire nurse graduates, and the expectation is that you will pass the NCLEX-RN in the near future (usually within 15-60 days). If hired, the stipulation is that you will pass the exam. So, what does this mean? It means that you can go job hunting while technically NOT being a licensed registered nurse (yet). This recruitment technique isn't always utilized, but where I work (Central Florida region), many hospitals use this hiring strategy. The goal is to recruit nurses quickly before the competitor scoops them up. Obviously, if you don't pass the NCLEX-RN exam, the employment contract is rescinded. It's a gamble, but it's a weight off your shoulders, and you have a job in your pocket. You would be untethered and able to focus more on studying. The faster you procure a job, the less stress you will have going into that final exam, the NCLEX-RN exam.

For nursing graduates who have no bedside or hospital experience and are looking for a job, the key to job procurement is to highlight your clinical experience. I know it's not considered "hospital experience" in some circles, but it is in my eyes. You must display your clinical experience as job experience. In order to do this, you must be as detailed as possible. If you want your clinical experience to be taken seriously, you must be able to explain your clinical experience thoroughly and confidently. Here are some tips that will guide you in showing the human resource recruiter just how awesome you are.

1. Resume length - keep your resume 1-2 pages in length.

I've been on interview boards, I've conducted interviews (in-person, on the phone, and via Skype) and I've been on nursing hiring panels. It's tough in these streets! Lengthy resumes are often not read, and pages get lost in the shuffle. I heard one nurse manager state, "This is confusing. There are too many pages. Let me see the next applicant." Most managers don't need to hear about the babysitting job you had when you were 16 years old. Keep your resume healthcare focused and your thoughts organized. If you have more than one page, staple or use a paper clip to keep your pages together. Make this process seamless and simple to follow.

2. Clinical details - know floor specifics, patient population, etc.

As a student, you rotate to various nursing floors (medical-surgical, psychiatric, labor & delivery). No nursing program is the same, and no curriculum is identical. You have to display your talents and articulate the clinical picture for the hiring staff. If you had a 3-month clinical rotation on a cardiovascular intensive care unit, you have to explain what you did as a student there. Did you collect vital signs? Hemodynamics? Did you speak to providers regarding plans of care? What role did you serve? How did you contribute? This sounds wordy, but it isn't. State the facts and be honest. Listing these in bullet form is an excellent way to organize your thoughts clearly.

3. Volunteer work - show your passion for nursing.

This is the section where you wow the hiring staff with how dedicated you are to the nursing profession. In this area, you present any certifications or association memberships you currently have or hold. The goal is to show that you're in this profession for the long haul and that this employment opportunity isn't a whim. Examples of "passion" include first aid certification, nursing student association, Red Cross volunteer work, etc. I know, just because you have or perform these tasks doesn't guarantee a certain length of employment, but it does paint a picture of someone who loves helping people. You can't teach that.

Below is an example, good luck!

2010 - 2012  Southern Memorial Hospital
-   Clinical Rotations For Nursing Curriculum
-   University of Nursing - Bachelor of Nursing Program
-   Graduation Date: January 2017
-   Professor Recommendation:
  • Jane Johnson
  • Phone: (407) 222-5120
  • Email:

Southern Memorial Hospital - Medical-Surgical 
Rotation Time: Three Months (January - March 2016)
Clinical Location: Multisystem Medical-Surgical Floor
Patient Population: Chronic Renal Failure, COPD, HTN
Clinical Instructor: John Smith
Contact Information: (407) 222-5100
  • Obtained Vital Signs
  • Monitored For Change In Condition
  • Charted Head To Toe Assessment
  • Communicated With Physician 

Southern Memorial Hospital - Mental Health 
Rotation Time: Three Months (April - June 2016)
Clinical Location: Inpatient Psychiatric Floor
Patient Population: Bipolar, Suicidal Ideations, PTSD
Clinical Instructor: Samantha Smith
Contact Information: (407) 222-5106
  • Obtained Vital Signs
  • Monitored For Change In Condition
  • Performed Individual Interviews
  • Participated In Group Therapy

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