Is It Time to Update Your Outdated Nursing Resume?

Melissa Mills
by Melissa Mills   Career Advice Contributor 

Has it been a while since you applied for a new nursing job? It may be time to freshen up your outdated nursing resume with the skills and accomplishments that are most relevant to today’s hiring managers.

It’s important to update your experienced nurse resume frequently to highlight your most current clinical skills, personal characteristics and continued training. Those updates will act as a reminder of new skills, awards and experiences without digging through reviews and paperwork. They also make you more agile should the time come to apply for a new position, either inside or outside of your current facility.

As you review your resume, a lot of questions are sure to come up. What details should I keep? Which ones should I remove? How can I highlight my current experience to land a new role?

There are no hard-and-fast rules on what information to include when revising a resume format for experienced staff nurses. However, if you want advice on how to update a nursing resume (especially if you are prepping to look for a new job), these strategies can help you accurately reflect your current nursing experience:

1. You’ve got skills: Update them

A current list of your clinical skills is an essential part of every experienced RN resume. Include any new nursing skills or training, and details about clinical skills you’ve acquired over the years.

Review the skills on your resume and remove any that are no longer current (such as expired certifications) or aren’t relevant to new roles you want to explore. This step is essential if you’re planning to change specialties.

The resume format for an experienced staff nurse should include more than just clinical skills. Soft skills are personal attributes or traits that are vital to being successful as a nursing professional. These skills affect how you interact with patients, family, nursing leadership and coworkers. The hiring nurse manager or nurse recruiter will review your resume for both clinical nursing skills and soft skills that align with the potential position.

Examples of soft skills you may want to include are:

  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Teamwork skills
  • Social skills
  • Organizational skills

2. Out with the old: Remove non-relevant positions

Many nurses include all past nursing roles when updating their experienced RN resume, but they may not be needed. If you’ve been a nursing professional for more than ten years, you can probably remove your first entry-level position after nursing school. You should also delete all non-nursing roles unless they showcase transferable skills that relate to the job to which you’re applying.

Give your nursing resume a close look. Identify positions that no longer relate to your current nursing career goals and remove them. Make a note of the dates and other pertinent information you’ve deleted for later reference.

Smiling group of doctors and nurses


3. Words matter: Include relevant keywords

Many healthcare employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to review nursing resumes. These systems automatically scan resumes to find relevant keywords. When updating your nursing resume and cover letter, include these keywords whenever possible. This will likely grab the attention of the hiring manager or nurse recruiter. Choose a resume format for an experienced staff nurse that allows you to showcase the keywords most relevant to your job history, skills and professional overview.

Study the job description of the position you’re interested in carefully. Highlight keywords pertaining to clinical nursing skills and personal attributes. Include as many of these keywords as possible, as they apply, to your experienced nurse resume.

4. Command attention: updated resume format for nurses

Knowing how to update a nursing resume begins with choosing the right resume format. If you’re an experienced nurse, you should opt for a chronological resume format, which focuses on your impressive work history and related skills. Once you’ve decided on a resume format, choose a resume template that’s attractive and appropriate for your industry.

The template you select should highlight your skills, past positions and nursing education. The type needs to be legible and visually pleasing so as not to deter from the details of your experienced RN resume. A dynamic resume template will bring your skills and experience to life, which may edge out your competition.

Before you send off your experienced nurse resume, review it for any formatting issues and spelling or grammatical errors. Common issues with resume formats include:

  • Inconsistencies in type size and font usage
  • Improper indenting throughout the document
  • Margins that are too wide or too narrow

Finding the ideal nursing opportunity can be challenging but taking the proper steps can make it less daunting. One of the most important first steps is to create a compelling experienced nurse resume and cover letter. Use our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder to create an initial impression that recruiters and hiring managers will notice.

About the Author

Career Advice Contributor

Melissa Mills Career Advice Contributor

Melissa is a nurse with over 21 years of experience, ranging from bedside to executive level leadership. Her writing has appeared in Oncology Nursing News, AllNurses, and MindBodyGreen. She enjoys helping nurses explore their careers to get the most out of the profession. She worked as a hiring manager for over a decade, and understands the importance of networking, creating a stellar resume, and writing a cover letter that tells your story as a nursing professional.


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