Registered Nurse Resume Tips

A registered nurse resume can be a complex thing, and that’s not what you really need in a job application. Because RNs are often widely experienced, the resume can become like a book if you’re not careful.

Your goal with a registered nurse resume is to target a specific job. The “one size fits all” approach rarely works, and it definitely won’t work on a whole variety of different RN jobs for which you may be applying.

The Basic Registered Nurse Resume

The resume format may vary, but a registered nurse resume should include most or all of the following categories:

  • Objectives
  • Skills
  • Work history
  • Education/qualifications
  • Professional affiliations (may be relevant in some jobs)
  • Licenses
  • References.

The critical areas are skills, work history, education and licenses. These are formal requirements that must match the job criteria. Your application can’t pass screening without clearly matching the requirements of the open position. If you are applying for multiple jobs, you may need to rework or reword your resume's elements for each position to clearly indicate you meet the criteria. The objectives may also need to reflect career motives specific to different positions.

Please note: Many job applications are scanned by computer for matches with keywords. Therefore you should use the same terminology as job criteria in order to pass this screening. Consider this example: A job requiring supervisory experience naturally requires your work history, education/training and skills to show this supervisory experience. In a job not requiring this skill, but requiring critical care experience, you naturally emphasize the critical care skills, not the supervisory skills. To apply to both these positions, you need to revise your registered nurse resume to target the job criteria.

There is some benefit in “value adding” and showing additional skills, but remember you’ve usually only got one page or so for a resume. You may want to list any additional skills in a cover letter.

Make sure your license information is fully documented. This is a basic requirement, and any hiring professional will notice if the licensing requirement isn’t clearly indicated.

Specialist Registered Nurse Resumes

Of all registered nurse resumes, specialist resumes can be the most difficult.  If you’re a specialist, you’ll need to be careful about clearly displaying skills, education, qualifications and licenses. You’ll be competing against other specialists, some of whom may be highly qualified, so a strong resume emphasizing technical skills, education and experience is required.

This is also where professional affiliations may be important. Academic work in a specialist field often also provides strong resume material.

Again, targeting job criteria is extremely important. Check the resume to make sure all criteria are addressed, and make sure your resume is a perfect match for the job. This is absolutely necessary, because RN specialists are competitive positions. 

Format Tips

Because of the amount of information a registered nurse resume contains, it must be well-organized. Make the information easy for someone else to find.

  • Leave spaces between categories of information.
  • Use bullet points or lists if necessary, rather than large blocks of text.
  • When addressing work experience, make sure you have included all relevant information and removed any irrelevant material.

Check out Nursing Jobs for more resume tips and sample resumes. Please also note different levels of complexity for different classifications of jobs.