Advice for RN Resume and Job Application
Once nursing school is complete and the graduate has passed the NCLEX-RN exam, he or she will receive a nursing license issued. This makes the graduate eligible for employment in that state.
So, now the fun really begins by building an amazing resume and a focused and purposeful job search.
The graduate can work on dazzling the interviewer in-person, during the RN interview, but first, he or she needs to get noticed by submitting an exceptional resume and perhaps recommendation letters.
Basics of a Resume
First and foremost an outstanding nursing resume is professional and concise. These are required and absolutely mandatory to apply for any nursing position, even though filling out an online application is also required. The key to a successful resume is to keep it simple yet persuasive while always remembering to create the best possible image of oneself on paper.
Many graduates choose to browse images of resumes online before committing to a resume style. The style will affect which sections and words are bolded, centered, underlined, and other formatting variations. Choosing a format that makes a strong impression is a good place to start.
Here are a few guidelines to follow, whichever format is chosen:
- Make your name stand out
- The top of the resume states name and contact information, this should be either bold, have a big font size, be underlined, or all three and if your middle name is unique it may be wise to add it as this may catch the attention of the HR Representative
- Be sure to list an email address as
well as phone number, address, and name
- Avoid listing any social media links for a nursing position
- It must be free of grammatical and spelling errors
- Have a friend proofread the resume and read it out loud more than once to yourself
- Hire a professional to proofread, usually for a nominal fee
- Keep it simple and concise
- Unless there are a lot of extras to list a new graduate nurse should not need more than one page
- Stick to basic fonts
- The preferred font is Times New Roman because it is easy to read and fits well on a page
The resume should be short and concise and portray the graduate’s attributes in a positive and professional manner. The new graduate registered nurse without healthcare experience should not be overly concerned about his or her lack of experience as a nurse. Employers are expecting this and look forward to teaching the new graduate nurse the policies and procedures of the organization. Many employers embrace new graduates and appreciate the opportunity to mentor.
The image portrayed should be that of an eager and humble new nurse who wants to learn from experienced nurses who are smarter and better at nursing he or she is. The arrogant new graduate does not get very far in nursing either during the resume and interview process nor on the job.
Sections of a Nursing Resume
The nursing resume usually consists of these sections
- Licensure and Certifications
- Technical Skills
- Optional sections may include:
- Honors and Awards
- Professional Memberships
- Volunteer Experiences
Finding an RN Job
Once the resume is perfected and has been proofread, either by a professional resume assistant or a grammatically-gifted friend, it is ready for submission.
The best method to find an RN job is to search online for a suitable position. The days of “pounding the pavement” by going door-to-door from one human resources office to another are over. Now the graduate can streamline the process by simply applying online. The only exception to this rule may be small non-hospital facilities.
It’s best for the graduate to find local facilities that he or she would love to work in and go down the list from there. Most graduates have an idea of what area of nursing they prefer from attending clinicals.
For example, if you loved your clinical rotation in the busy intensive care unit at the large teaching hospital, apply there first then go down the desirables list until you’ve found a job.
Search Terms for Hospitals
When searching hospital websites keywords to search for a new graduate registered nurse position include:
- Nurse Intern
- New Nurse Graduate
- Registered Nurse Intern
- Registered Nurse Graduate
- Critical Care Intern
- Medical-Surgical Intern
- Graduate Nurse
Remember that when using hospital search engines less is more. Simply searching, “intern” may list non-nursing positions along with nursing positions but having this broad scope to read through is better than a scope that is too narrow and missing a potential position. Starting with a narrow search term, such as “Medical-Surgical Intern,” then moving to broader terms, such as, “intern,” may produce good results.
Large hospital chains, meaning one large company with many hospitals, will often allow for a user profile to be created and a resume and job application on file. This profile can be used for multiple positions.
The most sought after new nurse graduate positions in hospitals include:
- emergency room
- intensive care unit
- operating room
- labor and delivery
Searching for Non-Hospital Jobs
The best way to find non-hospital jobs is to search online, however, small facilities may not have up-to-date websites. Begin by searching for facilities in the area and checking out their websites. Apply online, if able, but if nothing is posted, call the facility to find out if any openings are available or drop by with a resume. With hospitals, this usually won’t work because the busy human resources departments rarely return phone calls of this sort and seldom accept resumes for positions that are not posted online.
For the new graduate not seeking employment in a hospital highly desired positions include:
- skilled nursing facilities
- home health
- outpatient surgical centers
- physician’s office
- aesthetics offices, such as laser hair removal or Botox injections
- adult family homes
Like hospital positions for new graduate nurses, non-hospital jobs will also require and provide training programs. Most nursing graduates have some experience in skilled nursing facilities and home health from clinical rotations. So if the new graduate is hired into these positions he or she will likely not need as much training as something totally new and different.
Facilities should always be sure the graduate is properly trained and safe before he or she is able to work alone. And if, after orientation and training are over, the graduate does not feel ready, do not be shy about saying so. While it’s normal to feel nervous about starting as a new nurse the graduate should understand whom to go to with questions and have a basic understanding of how to work as a safe nurse in the chosen specialty.
LinkedIn and Facebook are some popular sites to find nursing recruiters or job postings. Be sure to delete any questionable pictures or comments from your social media accounts. Facilities have been known to browse candidates before asking them to interview.
Bring a Resume and Show up in Person
This can work for big facilities with Human Resources departments but also for small facilities where the hiring manager may be available to meet. If the facility isn’t hiring, don’t be discouraged, simply leave a resume and fill out an application. A position may open up the following day!
Keep in touch with fellow nursing students. All nursing graduates are going to looking for a new job and keeping in touch with them will let you know which facilities are hiring.