New Grad Tip: What Nurse Recruiters are Looking for In a Potential Candidate

  1. In today’s competitive healthcare marketplace, a strong nursing candidate understands that it takes more than graduating nursing school to land the job they want. In fact, it takes excellent resume and cover letter writing skills, computer proficiency to complete online applications, confident interviewing skills, and a keen ability to leave a positive impression from the first letter typed to the last handshake upon exiting your interview.

    New Grad Tip: What Nurse Recruiters are Looking for In a Potential Candidate

    As you begin to put together your cover letter and resume, it is important to understand what nurse recruiters are looking for in a potential candidate. Here are five essential components to make your nursing resume stand out from the rest of the competition:

    Make it concise and professional

    The first thing recruiters look for in a nursing resume is exceptional writing skills. In fact, if your writing skills are not exceptional, you may not even get past the automated screening software that many healthcare facilities use to weed through applications. Since communication is an imperative part of a nurse's role, facilities invest in programs that toss out hundreds of applications that are incorrect and/or incomplete. Be sure to keep your resume professional by avoiding specialized fonts, colors and images, and sticking to a maximum of two pages in length.

    Emphasize your skills and strengths

    Including job-specific skills and strengths is a sure way to help a nurse recruiter easily determine if you meet the desired skill set of the position that they are looking to fill. Remember those automated software programs I mentioned above? - They also look for these keywords! Hint: things such as Effective Communication, Strong Work Ethics, Teamwork, Safe and Effective Patient Care, Bilingualism, Computerized EHR Documentation Systems Experience, Quality Assurance Knowledge, Leadership Experience, and Ability to ArticulateCritical Thinking Skills are some of the most desired attributes of a nursing applicant. Don't be afraid to highlight your skills and strengths - these are what makes you stand out above the rest!

    Highlight your accomplishments

    Be sure to Include all academic and nursing related achievements. These can include: awards, honors, internships, and academic or professional works that you have received recognition for. These items will provide the nurse recruiter with a sense of your personal drive, and will certainly catch their attention. If you are a member of a professional nursing organization such as the American Nurses Association or the National Student Nurses Association - be sure to include that information as well.

    Provide a recent and relevant employment history

    Since recruiters sift through hundreds of resumes while searching for a qualified applicant, make sure you provide a concise employment history that directly relates to the position for which you are applying. This helps the recruiter quickly determine your experience level. For example, if you have previously worked in a doctor's office as a secretary, and at a fast food restaurant as a line cook, you should list the doctor's office experience first. Be sure to include the dates of each position held, and provide a brief detail of your job roles and responsibilities.

    Include three professional references with recommendation letters

    Professional references are essential for the nurse recruiter to obtain information regarding your character and performance ability. There is a lot of controversial discussion about whether or not you should list professional references on your resume, however, I've always done so. In fact, when I've been in positions of interviewing potential candidates, I've always looked to see who their references were. Sometimes having really great references previously listed sends a clear message to the nurse recruiter that you are confident in your ability and that you are ready for immediate employment. Remember that professional references include professors, clinical instructors and direct supervisors only. Be sure to ask for letters of recommendation that you can submit to the nurse recruiter or nurse manager upon their request.

    Do you have any tips that you'd like to share for new grad resume building? What's your experience with completing online nursing applications? Have you learned any additional information from another source regarding cover letters and resumes? Please share by leaving a comment below!

    Best Wishes!

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    Hi! I am Damion - a Registered Nurse, Educator, Tutor and Writer! I am the owner and operator of - a nursing education and consulting company & blog. I love to help nursing students, new graduates and nursing professionals alike to develop strategies for success!

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  3. by   Jendes1979
    Thank you for your article. As a new nurse I've been thinking of how I should build my portfolio and you've given me some great suggestions!
  4. by   tonyl1234
    And most schools have a resource for writing a resume and improving on it, and classes on how to write an effective cover letter for a job, and they're typically free for the general public too. Get a schedule of these things from your school, and go to the ones you can. It's an hour of life maybe once every 1 or 2 months. If you start early, by the time you graduate, you'll have your resume ready to start sending out.
  5. by   Kristy96
    Thanks for the post! I am about to enter my final year of nursing school, and I must say I am ALREADY stressing over job hunting!
  6. by   Damion Jenkins
    Thank you Jendes1979 for your feedback! I am so happy that you found this article helpful!


  7. by   Damion Jenkins
    Thank you tonyl1234 for adding to this discussion! Your tips are very much helpful and appreciated!


  8. by   Damion Jenkins
    You are very welcome Kristy96 - Don't stress too much, just take it one day at a time. TRUST ME - you'll have plenty time to get out there and work hard as a nurse! YOU CAN DO IT!