Resume - should I leave off my lousy work history?

Nurses General Nursing


I just got my RN license last week. :D I'm 36 yrs old, and before nursing school, I was a stay-at-home mom for almost 10 years. Before THAT, I was a military wife. My work history from that period was not very long, and I had most of my jobs for less than a year. I feel totally comfortable explaining this in an interview, but I think I'm getting skipped over when I apply for jobs, b/c I have my last 2 jobs (one was for a year, one for 10 months) on my resume. Neither of them was in the nursing field.

I've had one instructor tell me to leave off the job history, since it's not nursing-related anyway. Another instrutor told me to use it, to show that I've had jobs since I got my 1st degree (I got a BA in Psychology in 1997).

What do you think? My work history looks like crap on paper, but there's really not a way to explain that in a cover letter, IMO.

Please help a new grad get a j-o-b! (Or at least an interview!) :D

Specializes in acute care med/surg, LTC, orthopedics.

There's no reason you need to include your non-nursing related work history. Why would it matter if you were a secretary for 5 years prior to attending nursing school? It doesn't.

When I was a new grad, I filled up my resume with my clinical rotations, including how many hours logged, type of rotation ie) psych, obs, peds etc. As I gained my nursing experience, I gradually did away with those rotations so as only to include my nursing related work history and now have a neatly laid out one page resume summarizing my experience, goals, education and contact info.

The psychology part is related so, space permitting, I would include it.

You can include the work history, and then write each position description to focus on qualities that would be beneficial in the nursing field. For example, you can include information pertaining to your time management skills, customer service, and your ability to work as a member of a team. I have worked in slightly different fields after graduating with my first degree, and this method always seemed to work well for me.

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

I don't think your work history is lousy. I agree with the PP; highlight what you did that would be beneficial in the position you're applying for. No disrespect to the other poster, but I wouldn't list clinical rotations. Everyone knows you do clinical rotations in nursing school (I hope). To me, that's less relevant that your previous work experience.

Specializes in Hospice, ONC, Tele, Med Surg, Endo/Output.

If you leave off the non-nurse related history just fill those years in with other stuff--home-based business, college courses, nursing care of sick relatives etc... I know, all hospitals want long histories of employment where they can call human resources and verify everything, but they aren't going to get it from everyone, so if people embellish their work histories that is what they get for making it so hard for folks to get a job.

I would not necessarily leave out every thing that was not nursing related. I'm a new nurse and I landed my first nursing job over other new nurses specifically because the DON liked the fact that I was computer proficient and could type more then 50 wpm. Everyone and their grandmother has clinical experiences, decent GPAs and a nursing license in hand. What we new nurses don't have is 2 years of acute or trauma experience which is what most places desire. We have to stick out a little bit more then the traditional new nurse resumes in order to get the eye of HR.

The DON also chose another new nurses with a similar background because she thought we would be more organized to a degree then other new nurses with keeping up with paperwork and documentation because of the clerical backgrounds Turns out the facility has to go fully electronic by a certain date. She has plenty of nurses that are skilled on the floor but she wanted more variety into the mix. She figures all these different skills in the building will balance out in a year's time making the facility run more smoothly. I am not saying this will always be the case because there are plenty of nurses who are computer saavy, type quickly but you never know what HR or DONs are thinking about long term.

Specializes in Cardiology.

When I was forming my resume, my nursing instructor (who is an extremely intelligent woman and who I trust very much) advised me to remove my unrelated work history and add more of my nursing projects, organizations, conferences, and activities that I was proud of. I got an interview pretty much right away, so I don't think it hurt much to take it off, especially because most online applications have a designated section for entering your work history anyway. A couple years ago when I was interviewing for my internship, I omitted a couple jobs that I didn't think were all the important or impressive from the application, and after we discussed my work history the recruiter said that she would have liked to see my entire work history, even if I didn't think some jobs "counted", because any work experience at all is helpful. So I would say based on that encounter that if you are going to put it on there, put all of it. But recruiters have different preferences, so it's tough. I try to ask my friends (if there are any who work there) who may know the recruiter I will be interviewing with if they have any pet peeves I should know about before I apply. :)

Oh and just FYI I also participated in a nursing professional development webinar last week, and the presenter advised that putting job descriptions under those sections of the work history on your resume is outdated and unnecessary.

Good luck!

Specializes in Pediatrics.

I graduated in June and took advantage of my schools career center to help me write a resume. The woman who helped me basically re vamed my whole resume.

It has goals

then profile (team player.....)


along with total clinical hours ( she told me to leave off departments and hours for clinical rotations, but I left them on, because my preceptorship was in the ED and before that I spent 6 weeks in a childrens hospital with rotations in the NICU)

I then have Relevent employment; flu clinics, CNA work..

I do not have job discriptions, Just job title, department, company name and dates

I then list non relevent or Non Nursing Work history, where I list my jobs before I became a CNA and before nursing school.

I then have a place for Other where I put my awards and organizations.

Once I changed my resume, I got a couple of interviews, however I am still looking for a job, as the market is awful.

+ Add a Comment