As a recent graduate, your new graduate nursing resume should exhibit how and why you are the best candidate for the position you want. But how? When you have little or no practical experience, demonstrating your job readiness can feel impossible.
The good news is that many nurses have been in your position before they found rewarding jobs in the field.
Here are five sections your resume should include, and suggestions on how to fill each section with information that will help you write a good nursing resume.
1. Summary statement: Your resume's introduction
Your summary statement will likely be the recruiter or hiring manager's first impression of you. Therefore, use your summary section to set an eager, professional tone.
Emily McSpadden MSN, RN, is a clinical manager at Dell Children's Hospital in Austin, TX. She hosts open house events to meet promising candidates.
"I mostly interview new graduates based on their open house experience," McSpadden says.
Even if you attend an in-person meeting, here are a few ways you can ensure that your resume features a strong summary section:
Introduce yourself. Provide a short, informative introduction to your experience and skills. The main goal of your summary is to use one to three sentences ― or bulleted points ― to state your goals as an applicant and several assets that set you apart.
Tailor your summary to each position. Use specific keywords from the job posting in your summary to show the hiring manager that you're specifically interested in working for their department.
Figure out how the position fits into your goals. Every nurse will understand your desire to learn and grow, and most know that your first job may not be your dream position. However, you shouldn't apply to a job if you wouldn't like to work there. If you want to use the position as a career stepping stone, emphasize your desire to get involved, help institute change and pursue management responsibilities.
2. Relevant skills: What you can offer
As a new grad, you may not yet feel confident applying the skills you've practiced in nursing school.
Rest easy. Hiring managers aren't searching for entry-level candidates who can already demonstrate impeccable skills. Rather, they're looking for candidates who exhibit drive, ambition and eagerness to grow. Here are four dos (and one don't) for identifying relevant and transferable skills to include in your nursing resume skills section:
- DO emphasize the assessment skills you honed during your clinical assignments.
- DO mention the time you realized a patient's labs were trending downward, and you've either suggested a new treatment plan, or pointed out the need for a new plan.
- DO mention the medication knowledge you've obtained, as well as the interpersonal skills you developed in your clinical development.
- DON'T fudge the truth. Only list skills you're ready to back up on the job.
- DO remember that no one expects entry-level employees to know everything. You'll expand your skills on the job.
Consider pulling one or two of your most valuable skills to use in your cover letter.
3. Education: Classroom and practical preparation
Luckily, this section doesn't take much creative thinking. But because nurses need specific credentials, you'll need to display that information clearly and logically in your education section. Here's what to include:
- Name of your college or university
- Degree that you earned
- Any academic distinctions (such as magna cum laude)
- An impressive GPA. If you're proud of your 3.9 GPA, go ahead and include it. But your GPA doesn't tell employers much about what you can do, so don't worry if you'd rather leave it out.
- Specialty classes that are relevant to the position, especially if you performed well in them
- Volunteer experience. If you can't claim professional experience, volunteer hours and experiences are a great way to exhibit your motivation and dedication.
4. Work experience: From summer jobs to leadership roles
Recent graduates: Don't be afraid to get creative when it comes to work experience. Were you the president of a club? Or did you head up an innovative research initiative in your program? Did you teach reproductive health to teenagers at a non-profit? Highlight any relevant leadership roles that will exhibit your desire and ability to take charge and display leadership qualities.
If you were able to serve an internship during your nursing education, note it prominently in your work experience section, along with your specific responsibilities and accomplishments.
5. Language skills: A valuable addition
If you're fluent in another language, especially Spanish, your language proficiency can help you stand out as a desirable candidate, so be sure to highlight this skill at the bottom of your resume. As with any other skills, be honest about your skill level. "Basic" or "conversational" skills aren't the same as fluency, so only claim the language skills you can easily back up.
Composing a resume as a new nursing graduate can feel overwhelming, but these tips should provide some inspiration for what to share in each section. For more inspiration before you start building your own, check out our Registered Nurse Resume Examples. When you're ready, take the guesswork out of resume writing by using our online Resume Builder to find the right nursing resume format, including all standard resume sections.