Resume Tips: Perfecting Nursing Resume, Cover Letter, Online Job Applications

  1. 42

    'Advice from a Nursing Manager with 10 years hiring experience on creating nursing resumes, cover letters and submitting online job applications that stand out from the crowd. New ways of networking highlighted.

    Resume Tips: Perfecting Nursing Resume, Cover Letter, Online Job Applications

    Wondering why you're not getting interviews or being hired?

    Look at your RESUME!!!

    I've been reviewing resumes this May 2012 for open positions in my department and can't believe the resumes I've received: misspelling, words crossed off, no cover letter, including personal information about family life. Please don't send a resume if you have NONE of the job qualifications, unless your cover letter has explanation e.g. enrolled in education program etc.

    Also, agree with our members that calling facility and finding out who is department manager, then forwarding your resume to them along with HR is great idea.

    Facility Telephone Operators on second shift are great at helping me spell the name of Manager of 2nd floor Med Surg ...Telemetry or ICU unit "so I can respond to their voice mail with a thank you card."

    I work in a smaller organization than a hospital, but it has taken me over two months to get open positions advertised and three weeks to get resumes sent to me...those that are sent to me directly have interview scheduled the same week. When 300+ persons responded to ONE position online, I can't possibly screen that many candidate. HR is always overwhelmed with applicants to our online Kenexa job application program so quicker for me to review those applying for my occasional 1-2 open positions.

    Some online application programs have the ability to screen for key job words based on application summary or position description built into it.

    Visit: Job-Seeker's Glossary of Key Job-Hunting, Career, Job-Search, and Employment Terms
    This glossary of job, career, and employment terms is designed to give job-seekers a quick definition -- and then provide links where you can find more details, samples, and much more information.
    Create your resume in a Word document using standard fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, with Century Old Style used most for business positions). PROOF READ two times before cut n' pasting material. Previous jobs should have language in past tense while current jobs have present tense used to describe work activities.

    If attaching a resume and cover letter, it is best to have file saved using your name and date so I can find it again if I download to my computer. Make sure your cover letter is for CORRECT FACILITY, not employer in the next state. (Yes, I received application for NJ hospital while I'm with a PA home care agency--quickest way to hit the recycle bin. Because I had an extra minute that day, I called RN and informed him of this error--before it hit deskside recycle bin.)

    Acceptable examples:

    Skywalker_Luke 5-20-12
    Skywalker, L 05-20-2012
    Skywalker, L Resume

    Not recommended:

    my resume; updated resume L; ?X old style; lukes bio;
    peters bio (yet first name listed as Luke ????)

    With focus on facilities going to electronic medical records (EMR), don't forget to list "Computer skills" as heading after work experiences. Under computer skills, list those you have experience with, especially if at intermediate or advanced proficiency. You might want to include any computer course work taken. List any experience moderating websites, etc. All these skills are what facilities need and looking for today.


    Computer Skills: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer-proficient; Access- intermediate); McKesson Horizon Homecare database administration. Privacy officer for 6 insurance websites including Navinet x 6 yrs utilized for healthcare eligibility and authorizations. 10 yrs experience as Administrator and moderator at worlds largest nursing website.

    As hiring manager, I look at length of time at positions and job progression along with experiences applicants state that would transfer to a healthcare environment. I'm always skeptical of someone changing jobs every 3-6 months without explanation in cover letter due to cost of hiring and training --need someone to be with me at least a year to recoup my investment in new employee. If job changes are due to working for temp agency, better to list temp agency as employer, then companies and skills obtained/utilized underneath that heading.

    Consider joining the most often used social media site for the business community: As of March 31, 2012, LinkedIn operates the world's largest professional network on the Internet with 161 million members in over 200 countries and territories.

    Members post professional bios and resumes online, can connect with persons in similar positions, or reconnect with lost colleagues creating networks -- recruiters often search this site. You can look to see if anyone in your network is connected to someone who works at the company you're applying to. Depending on who the connections are, you could possibly: ask for background information on the job, ask for a proactive referral or introduction, or ask directly for an interview.

    This advice also applies to job postings within your health system. A college acquaintance I kept in touch with over the years as they ascended the Nursing ranks, called me out of the blue one day to discuss the posting for our Education Director as they had no home care experience.

    I knew they had taught in a BSN program, served as editor for a nursing publication, worked as Nursing Supervisor and with 20+ years nursing experience, were vastly qualified. As we chatted, told them about online home care CEU articles one could read and what this new position entailed. Next day, as I passed VP Patient Services in the hallway, mentioned phone call and recommended person's resume be looked at IF they applied. Three years later, they have totally transformed our home care education, developing a department with 5 educators!

    Network freely as a student and later in your career with your instructors, unit Nurse Managers, Preceptor's, colleagues, nursing assistants, house keepers and security guards--anyone you might know that works within a facility; You may someday need to contact them for the scoop on unposted jobs, reference letters or advice on facility "politics" as one tries to climb the nursing ladder.

    May the force be with you in creating an individualized resume and cover letter highlighting your skills to land the position YOU desire.

    For advice on interview skills, visit Nursing Interview Help

    Nursing Resume | How to Create a Stunning Resume for Nurses, Doctors & Healthcare Workers

    Get Started

    RWJF New Careers in Nursing Career Central
    Career tools and advice, including resume samples, interviewing tips, job search engines, and mentorship opportunities.

    AACN Brochure: What Nursing Grads Should Consider When Seeking Employment

    Resume Writing

    Mary Somers RN, John Hopkins SON: The Complete Guide to Resume Writing for Nursing Students and Alumni (pdf)

    Resume Writing and Interview Tips for Nurses from Univ. of Pennsylvania Career Services
    : Has extensive information geared to nurses --sample resumes + cover letters, interview techniques, job search strategies, Interview prep questions. Don't miss their Thank You letters and follow-up correspondence section.

    Resume Tips for Nurses
    Sample Resume for a Nurse
    Final Cut: Words to Strike from your Resume

    Cover Letters For The Resume

    The Basics of the Cover Letter: Vault Sample Cover Letters - a step-by-step guide of what goes on a cover letter done in the format of how the letter should appear.

    Tips For Submitting Online Applications

    Tips for Improving Online Job Searches and Applications

    How to Stand Out When Applying for Jobs Online

    Letters of

    Asking for a Letter of Recommendation
    Writing a Letter of Recommendation
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 25, '17
    Do you like this Article? Click Like?

  2. Visit NRSKarenRN profile page

    About NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN Moderator

    Home care guru / Clinical Manager with10 years experience hiring...and few firings. Attending BSN programs 30th yr Nursing Reunion October 2012. Time flies when your passionate about nursing and needlepoint to destress.

    Joined: Oct '00; Posts: 27,409; Likes: 13,622
    PI Compliance Specialist, prior Central Intake Mgr Home Care Agency; from PA , US
    35+ year(s) of experience in Home Care, VentsTelemetry, Home infusion

    Read My Articles


  3. by   Aongroup1990
    Thanks So Much great tips. now I don't have to have ten years of experience it's all coming to me in one day.... Great tips ,and i'm using all of them to help me get a job... Thank you, god bless
  4. by   mommyof2Tees
    Thank you for this information!
  5. by   That Guy
    Quote from NRSKarenRN
    Network freely as a student and later in your career with your instructors, unit Nurse Managers, Preceptor's, colleagues, nursing assistants, house keepers and security guards--anyone you might know that works within a facility; You may someday need to contact them for the scoop on unposted jobs, reference letters or advice on facility "politics" as one tries to climb the nursing ladder.
    This right here is so important. You never know where things will end up. When I was looking for a new job I applied to the hospital I currently work at and turns out one of my preceptors from an internship was now the manager of the ICU and offered me a job as well as the unit I am currently on. I had not seen this person in well over a year but they remembered who I was as a student. Get your name out there. Get known!
  6. by   LovedRN
    Thank You. That's helpful.

    My tip: Have more than 3 persons read your resume and cover letter. My 2 friends and I didn't catch my hypo until my 3rd friend pointed it out.
  7. by   lalopop86
    Wow! I am a nursing student currently trying to form my resume to apply for internships and this is super helpful.... thank you!!
  8. by   NRSKarenRN
    Quote from lalopop86
    Wow! I am a nursing student currently trying to form my resume to apply for internships and this is super helpful.... thank you!!
    Thanks for the comments and wishing the advice lands you an internship in this competitive environment.
  9. by   MKyungRN
    Thank you for the excellent advice. Given the topic matter, I cannot help but point out the mistakes in this article (not including the capitalization mistakes).

    Wondering why your not getting interviews or being hired? (not "your" - should be "you are" or "you're")
    worlds largest nursing website (should be "world's")
    Nurse Managers, Preceptor's, colleagues (preceptors)
  10. by   bdinga
    Great, excellent resources. Thank You!
    Last edit by bdinga on Mar 2, '13 : Reason: spelling
  11. by   redsky5
    I'm a newly licensed RN applying for my first job. Thx!!
  12. by   SE_BSN_RN
    My question is how do you get yourself to stand out with all the recruiting software? The most popular seems to be Taleo....I hate it! I am a RN, applying for a RN position.....yet qualified for nothing?? NONE of my qualifications match? New grads are hired in a few departments, so my 8 years of LPN experience doesn't count as nursing experience? I write specifically "registered nurse" on my resume and cover letter....

    There's got to be a better way. Seriously!

    And, why is it HR can't return a phone call or an email? I had to ask another employee to find something out and she says "HR probably isn't getting back to you because they don't know the answer to your question...." Really? SO......if I ignore someone when I get the job and say "I don't know" or "I don't have time" that is ok? Maybe expecting some professionalism is asking too much. They're busy, yeah, so am I. But they can't take 10 seconds and call or send an email? Ignore me and hope I'll go away and not bother to let me know you really have no job openings?

    I really wanted to work at this hospital, but if HR ignores me for something like this, what if I had a bigger issue?? Sorry, but busy is not a good excuse. It isn't for me, and shouldn't be for HR, either.
    Last edit by SE_BSN_RN on Feb 15, '14
  13. by   joanna73
    Thank you for the links Karen. I'm in the process of looking for a new position.

    You never know who you might meet, either. One day I was at a friend's outside and struck a conversation with the neighbour. He says, "Come inside and meet my wife. She's a nurse."

    I met his wife and after a few minutes, she informs me that she's the Director for a key organization where I live. Offered me a job, but I already had one.
  14. by   holinurse
    When referring to the job that I am interested in applying for, do I capitalize it's title? So if I am replying to the posting for "Emergency Department Nurse" position, should I write, "I am contacting you regarding the Emergency Department nursing position? I know that I could write "ED", but I feel that it is more formal and respectable to write the words out.