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How to Nail Your Nursing Resume and Interview

Jun 18, 2020
The Trusted Team

Recently, we hosted an event focused on the nursing narrative—specifically, how to make a resume that hospitals and other facilities can’t walk away from and how to translate that story from resume to interview. 

In case you missed it, we wanted to cover our best tips and advice here. Whether you’re a new grad nurse, a new nurse with less than a year of work experience, or an experienced nurse looking to refresh your resume and story, this guide is for you.

What are the basics we’ll cover here?

  • First, how to write a standout nursing resume.
  • Second, how to convey a clear, compelling, and customized narrative.
  • Third, how to prepare to confidently ace any nursing interview

Let’s get to it!

Part 1: The Essentials to Writing a Nursing Resume

When writing a nursing resume, there are a few basics that really matter: your contact info, formatting, and education and work history.

Contact Information

For your contact info, make sure it’s correct and always double check.

Format

Regarding formatting, size matters. Don’t make your headings HUGE, but definitely large enough to draw your eye to the top of the resume, specifically to your name. If it’s too small or a weird font, be mindful of the perception. Also, look at the separation and create space for ease of the eye (no one wants to read lines or words that are too close to separate visually). Otherwise, follow a typical resume format by having your most recent experience at the top. 

School and Work History

For school and work history, make sure to follow chronological order and have your most current work experience and licensure information at the top. Make sure the dates are clear and accurate. It might make sense to separate school and work experience, allowing one to take precedence over the other toward the top of the page.

Now, let’s get into some details.

DON’T Overshare

Long paragraphs and full sentences are a no-go, and don’t bury the most important elements of your experience, highlight them. Please get to the point (reviewers only have 5-10 minutes, at maximum, to view your resume, so make their lives easier)!

DO Be Professional

Of course we Google you and look you up! What does your social media look like? (Hint: It’s part of your resume too!) It’s ok to have fun, but reviewers might think, will this person cause havoc or bring joy to our team? Please use a professional email and photo. You can’t imagine what reviewers have witnessed; they do not want to email sexybunnyRN2020@gmail.com to tell them they got the job.

DON’T Downplay Your Skills and Experience

Don’t underestimate the impact of jobs you’ve held outside of nursing, but also don’t use acronyms that are not common knowledge, don’t give wordy examples, and don’t copy and paste past job descriptions.

DO Set Yourself Apart

Make sure you frame your work experience, your interests, any pre-nursing roles that may add value—there’s great value in customer service and the service industry if you have prior work experience in those areas—and school history. Hiring managers love to know what type of capstone, projects, or passions about improving care that you know a little about!

You should also use buzzwords like consistent, time management (give examples), and improvement. Lastly, don’t forget to brag about yourself! If you’ve made it this far, you’ve likely accomplished a lot in your life so far, so don’t be afraid to say it (just don’t be arrogant)!

Additional Nice-to-Haves:

  • Add a photo to your cover letter! It might help reviewers better remember you!
  • Add a personal “why” statement that drives you; it does not need to be a sad story.

Part 2: Getting Your Nursing Resume “Why” Down

Once you’ve got your nursing resume basics down, it’s important to begin thinking more deeply about your “why” statement mentioned above. This is your chance to really set yourself apart from other applications and peers. In addition to the resume, your why statement translates to your cover letter, if you’re writing one, and the story you tell in your interview. 

Your why statement is often the first impression a hiring manager has of you, and serves as a quick snapshot of who you are, what you’ve accomplished, what drives you, and how you serve others.

title image with section introduction and new grad quote on how to nail your nurse resume and interviews


Here’s a useful narrative template broken down into two examples: new graduate nurse and experienced nurse.

two-sided example slide of nurse narratives showing new graduate nurse and more experienced nurse example


Next step, preparing for the interview.

Part 3: Preparing for your Nursing Interviews

Preparing for nursing interviews entails two major components. First, there is the Research and Introspection portion, then there is the Preparation and Practice one.

introduction slide to interview preparation highlighting the specific bullets of research and preparation


Research and Introspection 

  • Reflect - think deeply about your past life and work experience; is there anything you can use to deepen your narrative?
  • Research - know the who’s, what’s, and where’s of the hospital you’re applying to (don’t be caught not knowing something obvious the facility's history or specialties)
  • Connect - reach out to current or past peers or professional connections at the place you’re applying to; you can seek advice, anecdotes of their experiences there, or anything else that might help you paint a better picture of the space

Preparation and Practice

  • Recall specific scenarios - any particularly relevant work experiences or situations come to mind that might help better express yourself?
  • Do mock interviews - practice with peers, friends, or family members (here are some common questions you're likely to be asked)
  • Prepare questions for your interviewer - know what you are going to ask your nursing interviewer
  • Plan for logistics - make sure you know the location of the interview, how to get there, how long it will take, etc.

There are also some details and considerations you should keep in mind.

introductory slide highlighting the importance of logistics, topics, and tips when preparing for your nursing interview


Logistics

  • Interview type - one-on-one, group panel, video, phone call, etc.
  • Interviewers - one, two, more than two?
  • Length - one 30-minutes session or more broke up throughout the day?

Topics

  • Goals - have an idea your work goals while at your new job
  • Experience - summarize the experience you’re looking to have
  • Compensation - have a clear idea of what you’re expecting in terms of compensation

Tips

  • Be yourself - no one likes a faker
  • Take your time - be there early and be as prepared, logistically, as possible 
  • Be curious - be open, write down questions, and show your inquisitive side 

Keeping all of the above in mind, you should be in tip-top shape for your next nursing interview!

Prepare for Your Next Role and Interview With Trusted’s Resume Builder and Salary Tools

Now that you’ve got the dos and don’ts, it’s important to have the right tools to put those tips into action. Here are some free tools that we think will help you feel even more confident about your next interview.

Nurse Resume Builder

Our nursing resume builder helps outline all of the above and more to ensure that your resume looks as professionally put together as possible.

visual example of the nurse resume building on the trusted health platform fill out your profile and download your resume


Salary and Facility Explorer

We take care of the research for you and outline everything you know about any facility you’re applying to as well as where you should even begin your search given your specific interests and experience. 

visual example of trusted health's nursing salary and facility explorer on the trusted health platform


Residency Program Search (Coming Soon!)

Finding a consolidated database of nursing residencies is hard, if not impossible. We’ve made it easy by consolidating them all in one place. 

slide previewing the nursing residency program search soon to be added to the trusted health platform for new grads


You can do all of this and more—build your resume, discover nurse salary insights, search for residency programs, find & save new facilities, and nursing guides from A to Z—by simply signing up for a free Trusted Profile today!