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Why are my resumes ignored? For 2 Years?

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Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Nurse Beth,

I have been a Nurse for 5years. I have experience in telemetry, pre & post cath lab recovery, iv certified, bls, acls, and critical care bedside. I have been trying to breakout of bedside and get into the ED. I have been submitting resumes for the last couple of years but I don't even get picked for an interview. What am I doing wrong? Is there something I can do to stand out? ED was always my end goal in nursing but I can't seem to get there. Can you help?

Dear Needs Help,

You are a nurse with 5 years of solid experience, and you never get a response to resumes.

Here is where nurses who are golden, like yourself, either fail to stand out or shoot themselves in the foot by not understanding what recruiters look for.

I get that.

Nurses are not trained to interview successfully or compose winning resumes. That is why I wrote my book, below, because I saw so many nurses like you who can't get noticed.

Your resume must be pristine in all ways. You should have 2-3 people with good editing skills look at it for spelling, grammar and syntax. In your letter above, you do not capitalize BLS, ACLS or IV. There should be a space between 5 and years. As a nurse manager, and having no other frame of reference, I may assume you are careless in your nursing practice. Unfair? Maybe. But true.

But think about it- your resume is the ONLY picture they have of you. And you have approximately 6 seconds to grab their attention.

As a hiring nurse manager, the most appalling mistakes I saw were resumes sent to my hospital with the name of another hospital in the cover letter or resume. This happens when people are sending out mass applications.

Another red flag is the person whose dates of employment don't match or don't make sense. In that case I would assume they were careless or hiding something. I would wonder if they could do medication calculations correctly when they couldn't add up dates of employment correctly.

Visual Appeal

If another equally qualified applicant submitted a grammatically correct resume, I would call that person.

Let's say that's not the case, your punctuation was perfect, and you are still getting rejected. It has to be visually appealing.

Overall length should be 1-2 pages, tops, with smart use of white space to make the information pop. Notice how in my response to you I include white space because it helps the brain read and process.

Use one standard font, such as Arial or New Times Roman. No serif (tails) font, nothing artsy and font size 12- nothing smaller than 10.5


Do not put "references on request", it is outdated and unneccessary.

Likewise, if your objective statement is "seeks employment as a dedicated professional" or anything close to that, leave it off. It is wordy, redundant, and self-evident. Read

Make sure your email contact info is professional, for example, JonesA@gmail.com and not Blinglover@Hotmail.com.

I have so much more to help you in my book and in articles here at allnurses. To stand out, you need to learn how to tell a short story in your resume and cover letter. You need to be the solution to an employer's problem.

You need to target each market hospital differently and individually. I guarantee you, with your work history and a stellar cover letter and resume, you will absolutely get noticed.

Best wishes, my friend

Nurse Beth

Start your job search today!

I have a bit of a different perspective. I notice that ED nurses come into the department two different ways. New hires are either coming in from other EDs or else as a beginner typically straight out of nursing school. Obviously one is cheaper than the other. ED needs a mix of both kinds. However, I would often volunteer to float to the dept when needs were high. I have always been a hard worker and I don’t complain to others about much. I would offer to cover shifts for them when a regular ED nurse needed off. I was very visible on nursing councils. Eventually, after making friends on that unit as well as with the manager during all those council meetings, I asked for more official training So I could do a better job. Because I ended up there so much anyway, I knew when an opening was available. I asked to be hired and has been great ever since. I did this at 50 years old. You can bet your last resume that there is no way I could have sent an application in to become an ED nurse at age and had a chance. I am still there as well as another part time ED job at another facility. It’s pretty easy for me to find a job now. If you really want to work in the emergency department (although I am sure this would work for any goal)... you may have to get creative. When other nurses know you, your work ethic and team work skills...it helps. Don’t give up. You don’t sound like a quitter to me🤗

catsmeow1972, BSN, RN

Specializes in OR. Has 15 years experience.

Given the robotic, computer driven application process that many larger facilities use these days, you know darn well that human eyes do not see every application that is filed. Even if your application lands on a recruiter’s desk and makes it through the HR gauntlet to a hiring manager, there are some things that you would not think would matter but do indeed throw up flags.
My example...I thought I was a perfect candidate, in terms of background and qualifications for this position (and actually I was) but what ruined it for me was the questions on wether they could contact my previous employers. I had indicated no on more than one. Keeping in mind I’ve had a long career but still, that implies I left under bad terms. The ones I had answered no to, the terms I left under, good or bad, were for safety reasons or debatable. Nonetheless, it raises the concern that I may not be able to, shall we say ‘work and play well with others.’

To begin with, the likelihood of them calling any previous nurse manager for a reference (unless you listed them as a specific reference) is low. If a prospective employer is going to check with previous jobs, generally all they are asking and all most will disclose is ‘yes they worked here and verify dates.’ I have heard that many will not even admit to Re hire status anymore. Something to do with liability, I suppose.

It comes back around to this being your 6 second commercial. I would not have thought that that simple question could sink an opportunity for me. I found out about this from calling the HR department and the recruiter point blank told me that was the nurse manager’s concern. Valid point. I guess. I did appreciate the honesty.

I read once that one should answer yes to the contact previous employers question because if they are going to call, they call anyway, no matter what you say. So take the chance that they might not call. Don’t draw attention to a previous employer.

Sage advice.

LMAO @ Blinglover@Hotmail.com 😂

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

1 hour ago, caliotter3 said:

I read once that one should answer yes to the contact previous employers question because if they are going to call, they call anyway, no matter what you say. So take the chance that they might not call. Don’t draw attention to a previous employer.

Such a good point and that is a tough one. I think recruiters do understand if you don't want potential employers to contact your current employer bc then they'll know you are looking for a job.