How to Nail Your Nursing Resume and Interview
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.
For your contact info, make sure it’s correct and always double check.
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.
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)!
- 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.
Here’s a useful narrative template broken down into two examples: new graduate nurse and experienced nurse.
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.
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.
- 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?
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
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 creating a free Trusted profile!