Revamp your Resume

If you are not landing interviews, the problem may be your resume. Your resume is so much more than a laundry list of previous jobs and responsibilities. An effective resume is a showcase of your accomplishments and skills and shows what you can do for the employer. It's also the key to landing interviews, so if you are not landing interviews, chances are the problem could be your resume. Nurses Career Support Article


Revamp your Resume

No matter what a fantastic employee you would make, if your resume does not immediately impress, you may never get the chance to show them.

An ineffective resume gets tossed in under ten seconds in a competitive environment. Along with your chance of an interview. So how do you make sure you impress in such a short time?


Here's a number one problem with resumes. Verbosity. Read the following two versions of the same message below and vote in the comments below for your favorite version. Number one? or number two?

1. "Many, and some would say most, employment resumes are detailed, lengthy renditions and descriptions of the applicant's prior and previous responsibilities, accomplishments and endeavors designed to impress the reader with the use of designated trendy words and terms commonly used by many other similar applicants in their industry in addition to the use of extensive and complex sentence structures for the purpose of making the applicant sound smart."

2. "Most resumes are too wordy." Simple, right?

Beware verbosity. Lose the cliches, buzzwords and fillers. They do not add value or meaning.

The average length of a resume must be no more than one page, two pages, tops. That one page should succinctly show your skills and strengths.

Visually appealing

Avoid dense blocks of text with balanced use of white space to make it easy on the eye.

Your resume must be visually restful, not too loud on the eyes. Loud meaning the use of italics AND bold AND underlines AND font mix AND CAPS. Use standard fonts such as Tahoma or Arial- they translate on all computers.

Use bullet points judiciously for emphasis and to draw the eye.

Headers should be consistent in boldness, use of capitalization, and level of importance.

Headers, bullet points and indentations need to be precisely aligned throughout.


There must be zero typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Your potential employer may see errors as an indicator of future careless performance. Have two or three people with eagle eyes review your resume.

Watch out for "their" and "there" and other spelling mistakes spell check may not catch.

Cut and Delete

Skip lengthy descriptions of your clinical rotations if you are a new grad. It's a given that you attended school, and in so doing, met your clinical hours requirement. An exception is if you did a senior practicum in the speciality area you are applying for, or at the targeted facility.

By the same token, skip long descriptions of duties if you are an RN. Skills such as "starts IV" and "completes care plans" do not set you apart. Do not include your GPA unless it sets you apart (3.75 or above).

You can skip the "Objectives" statement or "Summary" statement unless it's something other than "seeks job" (see "verbosity" above) or variation thereof, because it's self-evident.

A Performance Summary or Qualifications Summary is best used by an experienced nurse.


Including "References on Request" is outdated. The employer already knows they can request references and doesn't need a prompt to do so.

If your email address is, change it to

Include your LinkedIn url. Go back 10 years max in your work history. If you wish to conceal your age, do not put college graduation dates. Of course your age can be discovered, but you do not have to make it prominent.

You may also want to read Age Discrimination in nursing.

Keywords and Customize

Use keywords from the job posting to match keyword scanning software and to show that your skills match their needs. It's all about you meeting their needs. Tailor the resume to the employer. Do not blast the identical resume out to 100 different employers.

What are their mission and values, the major service lines?

Every and by that I mean, every, employer is looking for employees who will be a good fit.

Find out if they are for-profit, or are they community or faith-based ? Are they actively expanding service lines, certified in disease-specific care (stroke, chest pain)? Are they seeking magnet status?

Magnet hospitals in particular value advanced nursing degrees, speciality certifications, and Shared Governance. Were you a unit based council member or leader?

A hospital applying for Oncology Program accreditation needs oncology certified nurses.

Hospitals with an accredited Primary Stroke Center need nurses with NIH Stroke certifications.

Faith-based organizations seek nurses with the same values. Were you ever a Prayer Partner? Active in your church?


Top load the most important information, such as your qualifications: RN license, BLS, ACLS, to make it easy to spot.

Consider a functional/skills based or combination format rather than a reverse chronological format if your work history is sporifice. Many recruiters agree that these are easier to scan and provide information that is needed instantly. Functional/skills based resumes highlight the skills that they are looking for.

The format could look something like this:

  • Qualifications, Certifications and Education
  • Skills
  • Volunteer Experience
  • Work experience

Past Work Experience

Make past work experience relevant by including desired skill sets. Working as a waitress shows your experience in customer service and more so if you were voted Best Waitress or always got the most tips. Include it.

Patient satisfaction is highly important to all Medicare reimbursed employers. Show how you can help them with that.

Give Examples

Examples are really stories, and stories are remembered and powerful. For example, rather than saying "reliable" say "worked 2 years with no call-offs"- that will get their attention and speaks to your work ethic.

I hope these tips help make your resume relevant and most of all, I hope you land your dream job!

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Career Columnist / Author

Hi! Nice to meet you! I especially love helping new nurses. I am currently a nurse writer with a background in Staff Development, Telemetry and ICU.

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@NurseBeth, does this apply to scholarship application resumes too? Should I take out clinical rotations?

Specializes in Progressive Care.

Great suggestions. I'm bookmarking for when I update my resume. I find it's much harder to write descriptions of nursing positions than it was to write them for my previous non-nursing jobs since one can just look at your job title (Telemetry RN, PACU RN, etc.) and know what you do. Especially if you have not yet gotten to the point where you have earned additional certifications or recognitions.

It's also a shame that new grads often cannot get their resume even looked at, even if it's stellar. I remember when I was a new grad, I would get auto rejections 5 mins after applying and I knew I had been sifted out by a computer because I didn't have experience at the time.

Specializes in Progressive Care.
@NurseBeth, does this apply to scholarship application resumes too? Should I take out clinical rotations?

I know this was directed at OP but as a fairly recent grad here was my experience. When I was interviewed for a new grad program, I had not put my clinicals in my resume because I had a lot of previous work experience, but I discussed some of my clinical experiences in my cover letter. I was interviewing for a suburban hospital but I had done clinicals in the large city hospitals, and they were very impressed with this and talked about how excited they were about my clinical experiences. The other grads had gone to school in the area and had never been to the large city hospitals so it set me apart. I think if I had listed them in my resume under my nursing education I would have had a similar positive response.

I have classmates who had hardly any work experience who devoted more of their resumes to their clinical experiences and they ultimately landed jobs.

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.
RNtobe2016_CA said:
@NurseBeth, does this apply to scholarship application resumes too? Should I take out clinical rotations?

I don't have any special expertise around scholarship applications but I would say it's always good to be succinct.

More important than clinical rotations. I would try and find out who the scholarships were awarded to in the past, and on what basis. GPA? Community involvement? Volunteer work?

Best wishes

Specializes in Pediatrics and Women's Health.

Do you have suggestions for new grad LPNs with healthcare experience? I've worked in doctor's offices, clinics, care coordination for insurance, and as a CNA. My work history goes beyond 10 years and I didn't want to put so much on the resume with the fear of it going beyond two pages. I've recently revamped my resume again in hopes of hearing something. I'm still working for a clinic as an Medical Records Specialist that unfortunately doesn't hire LPNs and have had a lot of difficulty landing a job. I've only been there for a few months and I'm pretty sure this is counting against me for my Job Search. Thank you.

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Hi there Nathifair26, What's probably going to help you most is finding out who is hiring LPNs in your area. Doctor's offices, skilled nursing, rehab? Also network- contact your classmates and see if they have any leads. Talk to your former nursing instructors and ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything.

Best wishes