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Create a Winning Nursing Resume

By Kim Isaacs
Monster Resume Expert

The US Department of Labor projects faster-than-average job growth for nurses through 2012. That means as employers seek to recruit and retain talented nursing staff, nurses will enjoy improved salaries, benefits and working conditions.

You might be thinking: "Oh good, since employers will be clamoring to hire me, I don't have to worry about my resume."

Wrong.

A winning resume will get you noticed for the best positions and can facilitate a promotion from your current position. A strong resume can also help you command and negotiate a higher salary. Always put your best foot forward on your resume to attract the most desirable job offers. Follow these tips to make your nursing resume shine and see our sample nurse's resume.

Present Your Value Proposition in a Qualifications Summary

Lead your resume with a qualifications summary that provides an overview of the value you bring to the table. Paint a picture of what you have to offer by including a narrative statement of your goal, specialty area, level of experience and any other top credentials. In the Monster Resume Builder, use the Career Objective field to present your summary.

Add an Expertise Section

A bulleted list of your proficiency areas incorporates important keywords into your resume (so you're found in an electronic search) and gives hiring managers a snapshot of your capabilities. Your expertise (or Key Skills if you're an entry-level candidate and haven't yet developed expertise) could be nursing specialty areas (e.g., pediatrics, obstetrics) or skills (JCAHO standards/compliance, medication administration, case management). On your Monster resume, use the Skills section to present your areas of expertise.

Detail Your Nursing Experience

Hiring managers want to understand the scope of your experience so they can see if you're a good match for the job opening. When describing your nursing experience, write about the type of facility (such as acute care, outpatient, rehabilitation), your caseload and area of specialization. Entry-level nurses with limited work experience should provide details of their unpaid work/clinical rotations/practicums.

Demonstrate You're a Top Performer

Your experience will be stronger if you include your contributions to each of your employers. Think about how you went above and beyond your job duties to make a positive contribution to your employer, patients, families and the community. Did you serve on any boards or committees? Did you help reorganize or launch new facilities or services? Did you provide training for patients and their families? Did you promote health and well-being by providing free community healthcare seminars? Were you known for your strong patient-advocacy skills? Did you help your employer pass an audit or achieve accreditation? Did you train and orient new employees? By providing details about your accomplishments, you're showing potential employers that you would be a valuable asset to their team.

Focus on Your Related Experience If You're Returning to Nursing

If you are returning to the field after an absence, target your resume to nursing while deemphasizing unrelated work. One way to handle this dilemma is to divide your experience into two sections: the first called Nursing Experience and the second called Additional Work Experience. This strategy allows you to bring your older, related work to the forefront of your resume. In the Monster Resume Builder, use the regular Work Experience section for your nursing experience and the Additional Information section to briefly mention your other positions.

Pick the Right Format If You're Changing Careers

If you're a career changer and your previous experience is completely unrelated to nursing, you might require a functional resume format. This style allows you to emphasize your related skills and training, while downplaying your work history.

Highlight Academic Achievements and Nursing Licenses

In your Education section, mention any academic honors, scholarships and fellowships. New grads should consider including their GPA (if impressive) and related courses. Experienced nurses may decide to briefly mention their clinical rotations in the Education section. Licensure fits nicely in the Education section -- include the state where you are licensed and the date achieved. For privacy reasons, avoid including the actual number; employers will ask for a copy of your license later in the hiring process.

This article originally appeared on Monster Career Advice.

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