Dear Nurse Beth,
I'm a nursing student and I'll be graduating this year. I need help with writing a resume and cover letter, please. Since I don't have nursing experience, besides clinical rotations, what can I write in my resume? I also work as a dental assistant, I'd like to mention this in my resume, but how can I relate my work to nursing?
Dear About to Graduate,
Congrats on being close to the end!
I wrote my book below for you
and new grads just like you who need to stand out in their cover letter and resume. One year I saw over 200 applicants turned away from my facility- all because they did not know how to compete. The competition can be fierce, depending on where you live.
So the challenge becomes how to land an interview from the paper presentation of you (cover letter and resume) when you are all equally qualified but inexperienced. Here's just a couple of points:
You have about 6 seconds to grab the recruiter's attention with your cover letter. Avoid cliches and "givens" which the recruiter sees daily ("passionate new grad seeks position"). It's a given you're applying for a job, and nothing about cliches sets you apart.
Personalize your application to each facility "I completed a rotation at your facility and felt at home with the team. The mission and values of sharing God's love fit perfectly with mine." Or a short story- stories are remembered: " I'm returning back to my hometown after graduation to be near my family, and especially my Grandma, who has health problems and has been in your facility".
- Use keywords from the individual job posting to get past Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).
- Your cover letter and resume must be error-free, spell checked and edited by another person with editing skills. Mistakes are reason enough to reject your application.
- Use short paragraphs, white space and bullet points (resume) for visual appeal.
- Make sure your contact info includes a professional email (not email@example.com). Use a gmail address with last name, first name.
As far as having worked as a dental assistant, highlight soft skills such as customer service- these are highly important in healthcare right now. Did you receive any extra training, such as AIDET? Were you reliable, as in very good or perfect attendance? Voted Employee of the Month? Were you selected for added responsibilities?
Likewise, during school, did you serve as an officer? Lead out on any class projects? All of these things help you to stand out from the others. Volunteer work, such as a mission trip, or community service, is highly regarded.
While you are still in school, approach your clinical instructors for reference letters. Reference letters from clinical instructors carry weight because clinical instructors are typically tied into the local hospitals.
I have so much more to tell you that simply won't fit here
My book includes Bold Moves Done Right (when the basic moves aren't landing you a job), what hiring nurse managers are looking for (you may be surprised), and how to absolutely nail an interview with answers to the top ten interview questions. Good luck and keep us posted.
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!