Creating a Resume with One Year Experience

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    Hello Nurse Beth, I am approaching one year of experience at my job and hoping to relocate back home. I am curious how you would format a resume as a semi-experienced nurse.

    Creating a Resume with One Year Experience

    Does one still include any clinical information? For instance, my capstone took place in my specialty. Is it worth it to keep that information on there? I know that when you've had multiple years of nursing experience that part of your resume drops off and isn't relevant, but what about those of us who only have the one year?

    Dear Making a Resume with One Year Experience,

    What a great question! And congrats on moving back home and having completed your first year.

    As a nurse with one year experience, you are pretty solid compared to new grads. Do not include information about your student clinical rotations but you can include your capstone specialty if you are applying to that specialty. However, If you are working in the specialty, your work experience trumps your capstone and you can leave it off.

    Year graduated and school is generally sufficient.

    Here are some general guidelines for a winning resume. I hope they help, and please feel free to submit another question.

    List Accomplishments

    You want to highlight your skills but avoid making your resume a list of duties.
    Avoid "responsible for.." and "duties included". It is better to list accomplishments over a list of duties. For example, "Administered medications" is a duty, and does not set you apart.
    • Voted Employee of the Month
    • Served on unit based council that reduced patient falls by 80%
    • Perfect attendance

    ....are all accomplishments. Include metrics when able. Internships, summer camp, and volunteering experience are all noteworthy and set you apart.

    No one wants to read a job description presented as a resume, but a skills-based resume will set you apart. "Speaks Spanish fluently" will set you apart.
    There are hard skills, such as "Experience with Cerner and Medi-Tech platforms", and soft skills, such as "customer service".

    Give examples of your abilities. "Consistently made highest tips" in a waitressing job speaks to your people skills.

    Avoid Typos and Grammatical Errors

    Typos and grammatical errors give employers reason to believe you'll be a careless employee and are reason to immediately discard your resume in favor of an error-free resume.

    Recruiters and resume readers, inundated with resumes, develop an eagle eye for editing, and are not forgiving of mistakes.

    Everyone makes mistakes because our eyes see what we intended to write and not what we wrote. Or maybe it's a matter of being tired, or in a rush.

    Have 3 other people proof your resume. Common errors include forgetting to update the submission date, providing a wrong phone number, and even listing the wrong potential employer.

    Microsoft Office and spell-check can actually create errors. You must read your resume over carefully before you hit "Send". Watch out for errors not caught by spellcheck such as "their" and "there" or certified nursing assistant (CNA) auto-changed to "CAN".
    Do not use the pronouns "I" and "me".

    Generic Resume and Keywords

    It is easy for a reader to spot a generic resume. Sending the exact same resume to every employer without customizing it to each company is a fatal error. Recruiters can recognize a resume that was blasted to 50 different employers. The market is competitive- if you don't submit a customized resume, someone else will.

    Target the keywords used by the employer in the job description. Identify keywords that appear early in an ad as they are likely the ones to be programmed into their keyword-searching software.

    Put yourself in the recruiter's shoes and visualize what they are looking for. Find out about their culture. What skills and attributes are they looking for? Highlight those skills and attributes in your resume.

    Hiring managers are looking for a good fit for their units and your resume must reflect the values that align with theirs. Winning resumes are customized to each job opportunity...and culture of the organization.

    Objective or Summary Statements

    "Seeking challenging position" or "Looking for opportunity to provide safe, compassionate, quality care" really says nothing and is a waste of real estate (unless you are keywording "compassionate). Better to simply forgo an objective statement or summary if it is dry, cliche-ridden, self-evident, and/or does not add value.

    Summary statements are more useful for applicants with experience, and if used, should pack a punch.

    Pleasing to the Eye

    Dense blocks of text, long paragraphs, confusing hierarchy, multiple fonts, and run-on sentences are a visual turn-off.
    Often these are due to:

    • Not knowing how to condense thoughts for the highest impact (get help from a friend)
    • A belief that creative formatting is preferable to traditional formatting (go with traditional)
    • Inability to view your resume from a recruiter's point of view (stuck in me-think)

    Multiple fonts are a visual distraction, not a creative artsy addition. Set yourself apart by substance and content, not by atypical formatting.

    Use plenty of white space, brief paragraphs and bullets to help the reader see and process key chunks of information. Use a 10-12 point font, and a .8 margin. Use a sans-serif font throughout such as Arial.

    • Strive to be succinct
    • Words should WOW
    • Lead with strong action verbs

    When using bullets, keep the points short and use sentence fragments, not full sentences. Use bullets consistently throughout your resume. Bullets provide structure and give importance to material of equal weight in all sections.

    Dating Yourself

    Avoid dating yourself. Do not put "References Available on Request". Do not use double spaces after a period.

    Use a professional email address such as and not Include your LinkedIn url.

    Use a contact phone number that is answered by you alone. It is not necessary to include your home address if you're concerned that you won't land an interview because you live far away, although it's possible some ATS are set to give a lower score when the address is missing. It really depends on where you are applying, and the experience they've had hiring applicants from"away".

    Often you can use a cover letter to allay any possible concerns up front.


    Lose the cliches as they don’t add value.

    Edit your resume for clichés and fluffery such as "thinks outside the box" "team-player", "results-oriented". Everyone is a results-oriented, team-player who "thinks outside the box" and has "excellent communication skills". If you are just like everyone else, you have not set yourself apart.

    Use action verbs such as "resolved", "reduced", "directed", "handled", "managed", "organized".

    Use superlatives such as "only", "highest", "top", "first", "best".

    Making Your Resume Too Long

    It's not length so much as relevance.

    One to two pages is right for an entry level resume. Many nursing students and new nurses make the mistake of painstakingly listing every clinical rotation and taking up to a half of the first page (prime real estate) with wordy descriptions. "Passed meds" and "Inserted foleys" does not set you apart from other candidates. It's a given that you went to nursing school if you are an RN.

    For new grads) If your senior practicuum was in a prestigious facility or a specialty unit, it bears noting. Otherwise condense this portion.

    If done well, your resume will tell the story of you and capture the reader's interest. Sending a well crafted resume puts you ahead of the game, but don't overlook networking and don't believe the 5 Networking Myths. When your winning resume is ready, you can post it at allnurses Jobs.

    Remember to have a well-crafted Elevator Speech on hand and be ready to answer
    “What’s Your Greatest Weakness?” and other common interview questions.

    Best of luck,

    Nurse Beth

    Last edit by Joe V on Oct 20, '17
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  3. by   llg
    I think Nurse Beth gave some excellent advice on a resume in the post above. However, I would modify one little piece of it. It you have things from school that are outstanding or particularly relevant to your career path, leave them in your resume (maybe forever) to show your long-standing pattern of interest or a record of outstanding performance in that area.

    I am in my 60's and still keep a few things from school (from back in my 20's and 30's) on my resume. I don't use them on every version of my resume, but I use them on occasion when they are relevant. Things like ... academic honors, study abroad, merit-based scholarships, fellowships, president of the student government, etc.

    When I look at resumes to hire nurses, a long history of interest in the specialty (even if it is as far back as high school) can help a candidate stand out. I work in peds/NICU. When I see that an applicant has been a camp counselor, kids bible study leader, day care worker, baby-sitter, etc. I think, "She's worked with other people's children and knows how that is different from caring for kids in her own family ... and she has been working with kids for a long time." Recognize that for most nursing jobs, that type of information is the kind that might be excluded from the resume as being not very professional. But if you are trying to switch into the pediatric specialty, that's the type of information that might set you apart from the other applicants.

    Similarly, very high levels of achievement -- such as being an elite athlete or artist of some type -- might not seem relevant, but it can demonstrate the ability to work hard over time to achieve a lofty goal. Don't be afraid to include it briefly if it is truly at a high level. Lower level achievement such as these can seem out-of-place an inappropriate, but a history of really high level achievement can be an asset.

    Good luck!
  4. by   Shanua
    Good advice. Find what sets you apart. Do you have a certification? Did an internship? Took ACLS, PALS, etc. I put my capstone and internship experiences on my resume to show that I did have experience in the facility that I wanted to work in. One of my friends got hired at a peds hospital after a year because she took PALS even though she had only worked on a med/surg floor. Showing an interest and making an effort can set you apart.