Help wit resume and cover letter. critique please.
- 0Apr 11, '12 by NewgradRNMThi. i am a newly graduated rn-bsn and in need of figuring out how to make my resume look good so i can be hired for jobs and maybe a new grad residency program. i've sent it to various hospitals but not takers yet. i am not sure it stands out enough to interest any nurse recruiters out there. i would appreciate it if someone where to look at my resume and cover letters and give me any pointers. or any places that can help me make it better. i will attach a sample of my resume and cover letter. thank you very much. really appreciate it
to build upon the knowledge and skills gained during my years as a bsn nursing student to an entry-level rn position in the hospital unit.
california state university, los angeles (csula)
bachelor of science in nursing. graduation: december 2011
major gpa: 3.5
clinical rotations- student nurse june 2009- dec. 2011
senior practicum- emergency department- kp panorama city medical center 110 hours
- performed nursing responsibilities for 1-3 patients requiring acute/urgent care under the supervision of a preceptor.
- assisted rn with admittance and discharge of patients based on severity of illness.
- assisted with the role of a case manager that specialized in assisting vulnerable populations of geriatric patients by performing initial assessment and discharge planning.
- participated in the clinical nurse manager role of quality improvement, staff meetings, policy and procedure discussions and teaching/mentoring.
- developed the education/update for certified nursing assistant (cna) powerpoint.
- aided nurses in various aspects of public health which included giving immunizations and teaching prenatal health, communicable diseases, and environmental health.
- assessed a community to determine actual/potential problems and proposed a plan outlining intervention strategies, short-term and long-term to improve community.
- educated dozens of school-aged children regarding nutrition, exercise, hand washing, dental hygiene and sports safety.
- provided nursing care for patients in the telemetry and intensive care unit requiring nursing interventions under the supervision of a rn.
- performed duties such as feedings, medication administration, and dressing changes.
- contributed in care of clients with significant disorders of emotion, cognition, and behavior through group therapy and therapeutic communication.
- gave care for the pediatric population under direct supervision of a rn.
- presented information about asthma to a group for further learning of the signs and symptoms, prevention and treatment.
- provided care and assessment for newborns under the supervision of a rn.
- observed and provided care for mothers in antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum.
- created a breastfeeding brochure for mothers of newborns.
glendale memorial hospital 90 hours
lac/usc 90 hours
rancho los amigos rehabilitation 90 hours
- provided nursing care for patients in acute care settings with various medical conditions by having an active role in patient care.
- developed routine care plans for patients using the nursing process.
- registered nurse, california expires june 2013
- advance cardiac life support (acls) expires apr. 2014
- basic life support (bls) expires oct. 2012
- hospital fire and life safety expires apr. 2015
- electrocardiography and pharmacology expires feb. 2014
- highly motivated and capable of working as a team member.
- flexible, patient, organized and goal directed.
- semi-fluent in tagalog.
- computer proficient in microsoft word/excel/powerpoint. firefox/internet explorer. 75 wpm.
file clerk/data entry, dentist-on-call, van nuys, ca oct. 2009-present
- assemble documentation regarding patient care. search files, compute data, verify insurance.
- created a systematic way to write down billing information and organize files needed for the week’s assignments.
- responsible for serving customers, performing sales and processing payments.
alpha tau delta (atd), member june 2011-present
nightingale society, member mar. 2009-dec. 2011
- decoration and fundraising committee
march of dimes mar. 2011
§ cheered for the participants running for the cause. gave water to runners.
midnight mission of los angeles soup kitchen may 2011
§ prepared food and assisted in passing them out for the homeless.
clinical care extender- valley presbyterian hospital 2006-2007
§ shadow nurses in various hospital units (med-surg, telemetry, and labor & delivery).
§ assisted with patient care such as taking vitals, communicating with patients, feedings, and completing errands.
april 10, 2012
to whom it may concern,
i am responding to your recent job listing for uc irvine healthcare offering the opportunity to be a part of the hospital as a new graduate nurse. as a new graduate, i have the education to succeed in nursing but require additional experience with patient care.
i completed a bachelor of science degree in nursing on december 2011. my experience and education have provided me with the knowledge to be able to practice patient care and use relevant skills to be an effective team member. my goals are to obtain new nursing skills and increase my level of competence to achieve high-quality care for the patients. i have had clinical rotations in various hospital units teaching me various skills that i can offer if accepted. if given the chance, i would gladly work with staff members and willingly gain the required skills for further experience from them. i assure you that the experience attained would help me make a positive contribution to the patients and hospital.
i believe that i can help uc irvine healthcare achieve its commitment to delivering excellent compassionate care and conducting innovative research to benefits their patients i say this because i am highly motivated, responsible, flexible, organized, goal-directed and quick to learn new skills. i am dedicated to the field of nursing and to providing high quality care for uc irvine healthcare.
i welcome the opportunity to discuss with you personally more about the opportunity and how i can best serve your hospital. please contact me on the above mentioned phone number or email address as to your convenience.
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- 5Apr 11, '12 by AliakeyIn a not-so-long-ago past career, I spent a great deal of time sifting through resumes and cover letters to find those that stood out from the crowd. While it involved employment in the medical field for mid-level providers, my observations may only be worth just a grain of salt for the field of nursing... or not. Anyway, if you don't mind an honest, unsweetened response, I offer it to you below.
Overall, the content of the resume is... well, "dated". First of all, I would strongly suggest you remove the objective completely. It is a waste of reader time, the written word, and the evaluator already has a pretty good idea that you are applying for a particular job as an entry-level RN. No need to toot your horn about your lack of job experience right off the bat. Your resume and cover letter are supposed to sell you, and you’ve already walked off the market block with that objective. In fact, that weak objective on its own may be something that triggered the recruiters to toss the resume away without digging further into your hospital experience.
Next, your education is strong... a BSN with that solid GPA is going to grab some attention, particularly with the current emphasis to hire those with the undergraduate degree. Now, in my opinion, you should really bring your better certifications and licensure from the bottom of the resume to that section. Get the RN licensure, ACLS, and BLS up there with those positive aspects of that education. Do you have PALS or other nationally-recognized cards desired by the hospital environment? As for Hospital Fire and Safety and Electrocardiography and Pharmacology... I never heard of them, so need to assume they are some sort of local certification or class completions? Personally, I would not include those unknowns there, or anywhere. If it looks like "fluff", the evaluator may see it as "fluff", and there’s not a whole lot of time spent on each resume. Again, my hospital experience is limited, so I'm open to correction from others here.
As for your clinical experience… I hope the readers here can help out as this is unfamiliar territory in my evaluation of resumes. If this is an industry-standard, then I see quite a few strengths there that may have been unseen with the objective and cover letter (which I’ll get to here in a bit) weakening your qualities and experience. The only comment I can make here is to recheck your capitalization of key words (again, a dated and hated trend) and bring them back to proper use.
Moving down to the “skills” section, I would personally remove the motivation/teamwork/flexible/goal oriented/etc. attributes. Like before, it’s now considered as unnecessary fluff. Your personal and past employment references should substantiate your ability to play well with others and do the work expected of you. Now, I would keep the reference to Tagalog, but instead of stating, “semi-fluency”, I would replace that word with “fluency” and get more practice in speaking the language if needed. “Semi” usually irks the feeling of “not”. You’ll need to take an honest look at your ability to speak that language and determine whether it only needs to only be brushed-up on, or if you should not include it at all. For example, I am kind of fluent in Spanish, living in west Texas. However, can I hold a conversation that exists beyond, “point to your pain”, “how many beers did you drink”, and “did you save me a cold beer”? Nope. So, I don’t even mention it.
Computer skills are expected these days. I would consider rewording this statement to, “proficient in Microsoft Office applications” rather than listing all of them and the web browsers (which should not be listed at all).
On to work experience, and again, I would trim this down a bit. The job title listed for each occupation pretty much sums up your responsibilities. Since both are not really related to your current employment prospect, I would save the space and eliminate your responsibilities for both. I was caught thinking you were a “Dentist-On-Call” and wondered where your education and such was for dentistry. I then realized that this was a business name. With that in mind, consider a separate line for the business name and one for the job title to make it crystal clear.
The “Activities/Volunteer” section needs some help. Personally, I would again remove your “responsibilities” for each opportunity since nothing stands out as extraordinary (like raising a million dollars at a fundraising event with the use of two banjos, a singing Chihuahua, and a lemonade stand). You were a volunteer, doing volunteer work like many others, and yes, these organizations should be included in your resume. The standard details of cheering, passing out water, and such… no. Also, I would remove the shadowing nurses portion; seems like fluff again since I’m assuming this is related to your clinicals?
Your cover letter will be covered next in a new post. I’m sure there’s a word limit here somewhere, lol!
- 1Apr 12, '12 by AliakeyNow on to the cover letter. Again, I’m going to be blunt and not sugarcoat a thing.
First of all, please take the time to learn the recruiter’s name, if at all possible. A “Dear Mr. Smith:” conveys so much respect in your cover letter versus “to whom it may concern”. Shoot, even my SPAM and junk mail is addressed to me by name, so the generic label is just not appropriate anymore (if it can be avoided).
The purpose of the cover letter is to SELL YOU. Period. It should point out your strengths. You may be a new graduate nurse, but I’d be willing to bet that through your clinical experience, you excelled in areas that should be made known to all. You need to do that… your cover letter simply does not in its current state!
Starting with the first paragraph… axe it! Ctrl-X. Delete key. Banish with the sacred blade of Oblivion, I don’t care. Whatever it takes, get rid of it. Again, you just showed a load of weakness with your statement that reads, “but require additional experience with patient care”. Yikes! You’re a new nurse… they know that. However, I thought there were hours upon hours of experience from your clinicals in the resume? Unfortunately, your cover letter won’t let your resume creep out from under it before all hits the trash can.
Second paragraph: Everything beyond the first sentence is again weak and washy. Your employer really doesn’t care about personal, rather short-sighted goals. You do not seem very self-confident in your own skills, which should be at entry-level nurse expectations. I read those sentences and was turned off immediately.
Take this paragraph and explain why YOU are what this employer wants versus any other new nurse. Don’t sound like a used-car salesman, but this is the perfect opportunity to emphasize a strength you can bring to the table. Briefly expand on what clinical experience or project you worked on that made the little world of that nursing unit or class a better place to be. I’m looking at the mention of a brochure you developed for breastfeeding mothers, your asthma education experience, and your public health community assessment experience right off the bat, and my curiosity is peaked. Did you have a leadership role in any of these? Can you bring some experience in educating these clients to the table? What do you have to offer the hospital that is either unique, or would strengthen the staff in areas where they may be a little weak?
Third paragraph also needs some work. It’s quite acceptable to mention the strengths of your future employer and flirt with them a bit in words, but it’s not acceptable to frame it in a run-on sentence. I say this, and Lord knows my grammar is atrocious at midnight right now, lol! But, you MUST check spelling, grammar, punctuation, or find someone to do it for you for a fee. Also, the whole teamwork, goal oriented, organized, etc. fluff has to go. No place for it here… this should have been supported in your revised second paragraph with no specific mention of these generic, overused words.
Fourth paragraph: first sentence is fine, but the second sentence is again… fluff. The recruiter is an intelligent individual who should know how to look at the top of the cover letter to find your contact information. No need to emphasize the obvious, as the recruiter is going to use the means of contact he or she wants to use. You prefer email? Oh well. The recruiter prefers phone.
The fifth (paragraph?)… er, I mean, the single line that reads, “thank you”? This should not stand alone. It conflicts with the other stand-alone line of “Sincerely,”, which is more appropriate. Personally, I would go back to the fourth paragraph and somewhere in there, thank the recruiter for his or her time in a sentence.
Just to review, I want to remind you to take those strengths and clinical experiences and use them to your advantage. You have some very good selling points there. Don’t forget to follow the format for a formal letter with all of the proper headings and address placements. Finally, and most importantly, please check spelling and grammar. You may be corresponding with them later by email, thank you letter, or other forms of correspondence, and need to demonstrate skill in this area. Think about it this way… how many nurse’s notes or MARs have you seen that were just loaded with spelling errors? Wouldn’t it be a shame to misspell diazepam, and have it look like diltiazem on a handwritten MAR? Your recruiter may think the same. Even though electronic patient care records are the norm, computers do go down and downtime procedures (in other words, paper charting) are implemented. Patient care can’t stop because the computer did, but medication or order errors are potentially expensive mistakes for the hospital.
Just my two pennies worth, if it helps any.
- 3Apr 12, '12 by inchRistIcaNI am a new grad in the same position, but I have gotten personal call backs and emails, and had my resume looked over by hiring managers (in other careers) and by two dons, so it's a little strong ... I guess it's just my over the phone and online interviews skills that suck. lol
But cutting right to the chase. I was bored to tears by the time I read the objective. I automatically skipped down to work experience to see something else, but that bored me too. Im sorry this sounds so harsh, but if I am reading it this way, chances are HR is too, w/o the skipping down part, because they go straight to tossing it since they have over 1000 new grads applying for just one job.
I really regret skimming down because I missed your strong education part. I really agree with almost every thing the 1st poster said. IE bring you skills up (right under your education), work experience to me is fluff, plus its not like you were there long enough anyways, so it tells HR you like to move around. Plus they really dont care you worked at frys and dentist on call, when the next applicant worked as a tech or lvn previously. Instead add a specific clinical experience that relates to the job. I would move your ED experience there and elaborate more.
Umm how long is this? It seems longer than one page so I would def. make it one page, not an inch longer. Also it's really nice of you to volunteer and give water to runners, but HR could care less. So take all of what you specifically did volunteering out.
Believe me I understand to whom it may concerns, it is extremely hard trying to get the name of a NR, you have better luck swimming through the bermuda triangle and coming out alive. But if you do know the name put that instead.
Don't sell yourself short, because thats what you are doing here. Ok honestly the only thing I would keep is the next to last paragraph and delete everything else. In your next cover letter include the mission of the hospital and how you embody that and make yourself seem like they would regret not hiring you. And if you are going to be applying multiple place, which you might, look at lots of missions and you'll see they are pretty much the same, so find something that's popular and put that in your cover letter. It requires a lot of research and time but you got this!!!!
- 2Apr 15, '12 by NewgradRNMTI have to say thank you very much for the critique. I have had many people look at my resume and cover letter and no one was ever honest enough like this. They mostly corrected my spelling and suggest a few pointers but this was very very helpful and straight to the point. I don't mind the pain of it all
I have pretty much followed a majority of the things many of you said, I mean I am still in the process of fixing it to be as perfect as it can be but so far this is what I have for both. I hope the cover letter is more appealing.
First, I pretty much just took out all the information regarding my clinical rotations and just listed it. I always thought it was pretty long anyways. I just left my senior practicum since that is one of the mains. Instead I added some of the things I did in my cover letter instead.
@Aliakey i know you were sayin to remove the objective from the resume. And I wouldnt mind doing that. but I also made up another one, hoping for it to be stronger and better than the first.
@inchRistIcaN I hope your job search will also pay off. There are times when I try and find a name for the letter and to no luck.
Anyway, so if you guys are willling to look at my corrected resume and cover letter again. I really very much appreciate it. And any new people who can give me more pointers. No harm in being honest with your opinion. While I perfect my resume. I am trying to get better at my interviewing skills also. Thank you guys again for you input.
So I pasted my resume and cover letter below
To build upon my knowledge and skills to develop into the best nurse I could become and gain new experiences in providing high quality care.
California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)
Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Graduation: December 2011
Major GPA: 3.5
Senior Practicum- Emergency Department KP Panorama City Medical Center 110 hours
- Performed nursing responsibilities for 1-3 patients requiring acute/urgent care
- Assisted RN with admittance and discharge of patients based on severity of illness.
Case Management KP Los Angeles Medical Center 60 hours
Leadership KP Panorama Medical Center 60 hours
Public Health Los Angeles County of DPH 60 hours
Community Health Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando 60 hours
Critical Care KP Los Angeles Medical Center 90 hours
Psychiatric Huntington Memorial Hospital 90 hours
Pediatric White Memorial Hospital 90 hours
Obstetrics Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center 90 hours
Medical/Surgical Nursing Glendale Memorial Hospital 90 hours
Medical/Surgical Nursing Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center 90 hours
Medical/Surgical Nursing Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation 90 hours
- Registered Nurse, California Expires June 2013
- Advance Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) Expires April 2014
- Basic Life Support (BLS) Expires October 2012
- Electrocardiography and Pharmacology Expires February 2014
- Fluent in Tagalog.
- Proficient in Microsoft Office applications. 75 WPM.
File Clerk/Data Entry Dentist-On-Call, Van Nuys, CA October 2009-present
- Created a systematic way to write down billing information and organize
Customer Service Associate Fry’s Electronics, Burbank, CA July 2007- January 2008
- Responsible for serving customers, performing sales and processing payments.
Alpha Tau Delta (ATD), member June 2011-present Nightingale Society, member March 2009-December 2011
- Decoration and fundraising committee
March of Dimes March 2011
Midnight Mission of Los Angeles Soup Kitchen May 2011
Clinical Care Extender- Valley Presbyterian Hospital 2006-2007
§ Assisted nurses with patient care such as taking vitals, communicating with
patients, feedings, and completing errands.
April 15, 2012
To Whom It May Concern,
I am responding to your recent job listing for Loma Linda University Medical Center offering the opportunity to be a part of the RN Residency in Pediatrics program.
I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing on December 2011. My experience and education have provided me with the knowledge to be able to practice patient care and use relevant skills to be an effective team member. I have had over 900 hours of clinical rotations in various hospital units which included Medical/Surgical, Critical Care, Obstetrics, and Pediatrics. Not only have I been taught various nursing skills such as medication administration, IV insertion, dressing changes and the nursing process, which I can offer if, accepted to the program. I have also listed a few accomplishments I have done during nursing school. These accomplishments illustrate my independence, also being a part of a team and determination to teach a subject which will prove to be a positive contribution to the patients and hospital.
- Developed an education/update for Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) PowerPoint.
- Assessed a community to determine actual/potential problems and proposed a plan outlining intervention strategies, short-term and long-term to improve community.
- Educated dozens of school-aged children regarding nutrition, exercise, hand washing, dental hygiene and sports safety.
- Presented information about Asthma to a group for further learning of the signs and symptoms, prevention and treatment.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss with you personally more about the opportunity and how I can best serve your hospital. Thank you for your consideration, time and patience.
- 6Apr 16, '12 by EvalinaGood morning! I looked over your old resume and letter, and your update. The update is much improved. Honestly, I'd trim it more. I used to participate in interviewing and hiring, and we looked at each resume for about 30 seconds. That's it. You need to grab attention quickly, and give them a reason to bring you in for an interview. Then you can give them the details.
This next section will sound like I'm picking you apart, and I hope you can overlook that. You have several things that jump out at me, but your resume doesn't highlight them in particular.I'd lose the objective completely. Your objective is to get a job. We know this. Much more interesting is a short (5, maybe 6 items) bulleted list of qualities. HR folks like bullets, they're easy and fast to read. Your bullets need to include your: GPA, Current Licensure, ACLS and BLS (in a single bullet), linguistic skills, and maybe one more, such as a statement on the breadth of your experience in clinicals. It should read like this:
This gives your resume punch, and immediately grabs attention. Use a strong, large graphic dot or square for your bullet to grab more attention.
- Achieved BSN with GPA of 3.5
- Certified in ACLS and BLS
- Licensed RN in California
- Experienced in broad range of patient care
I'd suggest you keep your current format, but trim all unneccesary words. List jobs and clinical rotations next. Keep it short, and I wouldn't mention how long the clinicals were. You can discuss that in an interview, but it just isn't necessary. I'd just say clinicals here, this department. Then move on to education. Keep it brief, reiterate your high GPA and that you graduated. After education, move into your certifications. In certifications, don't mention the expiration dates. That's just a distraction. If they're current, you're good. Skills looks pretty good.
I wouldn't even bother with previous work experience. Not that it wasn't important to you, but nursing work is so different from other types of work that it doesn't help you much. If it's necessary to you, only mention skills you acquired that will help you as a RN, such as customer service and organization. Honestly, you could skip over this and only bring it up in an interview.
Memberships are good, and can surprisingly help you get jobs. You never know where a sorority sister might pop up. I'd drop the committee member bullet, though. It takes up space, and won't help. Again, you can talk about it in the interview.Volunteerism looks good. I'd just drop the details.
The point of a resume is to give them a snapshot of you and want to know more, not to share all of your details. You have good stuff to work with, but it needs to be trimmed up so an HR person will pick out your great qualities during a quick glance.
Your new cover letter is much better, but still needs a little oomph. It's too long, and it soft sells you and your resume. You need to puff up your self esteem, then write the cover letter. Think about how awesome you are, what you excel at (difficult IV starts, foreign languages, admits and discharges) and highlight those in your cover letter. Own your strengths. I suggest you look online for strong vs weak verbs, and focus on using stronger verbs, both in your resume and cover letter. A cover letter is also a good place to display your passion for nursing, especially if there is a specialty you are interested in. A statement like "I have a passion for helping mothers give birth, and I plan to eventually become a charge nurse in Labor and Delivery." Oh, and I wouldn't thank them for their patience. It sounds like you're apologizing for applying.In resume writing, I think of it as "Thinking Like A Man". Men generally are much more comfortable talking about their accomplishments, and some of the ones I know are very proud of everything they do (even the questionable things). But I believe that it's that pride in accomplishment that puts more men than women in management. So claim your accomplishments.
Although I'm terribly blunt at times, I hope I've given you some advice you can use. I've been able to resume and interview my way into jobs I shouldn't have (on paper) even been interviewed for, and have been able to push my career plan ahead 5 years as a consequence. A strong resume and cover letter make a huge difference. By the way, slight exaggeration is good. Lying doesn't work well in nursing.
- 1Apr 19, '12 by Bob_N_VAGood advice so far. One of the things you want to add to your resume would be an objective or "branding statement" at the top that essentially sells you to the new employer. It has to summarize you as a nurse in 2 or 3 sentences. You can follow it with 2-3 bulletized Hard skills such as proficiency on a certain piece of equipment or system and soft skills as working with seniors or kids, time management, etc. The rest of the resume can be chronological or functional or a hybrid. Should be 2 pages or less and not chock full (think white space). Cut out all the clinical rotations stuff, that is school, not work. List only work or volunteer gigs that have support your nursing skills as mentioned above. Under each job, the bullets or entries should take the format of challenge -action-result. If you have worked a job for 4 years and showed up for work every day on time while going to school, sell that, many of your contemporaries have only had summer jobs or gone to college. You worked with customers, solved problems and solutions, stuff nurses do every day and you demonstrated responsibility.
- 1Aug 16, '12 by SENSUALBLISSINFLWow, I learned from this post. I am just beginning to look for posts on the subject of resume writing for ideas on how to do my resume.
I feel a bit insecure as my accomplishments have not been as great as the O/P. Working full time and going to nursing school did not leave me with a lot of time to participate in activities or volunteer; which I plan to do now as I look for a job. Plus the same job for over 20 years. I worry how I will stand out.