Nursing assistants are in demand nationwide, but that doesn't mean just any candidate will fill the bill. Recruiters look for caring, dependable applicants with good communication skills to assist RNs and LPNs with the less-glamorous, yet absolutely vital, aspects of nursing.
Unfortunately, a simple application won't do you justice when applying for a nursing-assistant job. Sure, you can list work history and some references, but a full-fledged resume will help you stand out, recruiting experts say.
"Having a resume is a bonus for nursing assistants," says Mary-Anne Benedict, MSN, RN, an education consultant and member of the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation. "Resumes can help the nursing assistant list all her work experience, demonstrate communications skills and career goals and much more."
Review this sample resume for a nursing assistant and follow these recruiter tips to make your resume shine:
Show a Stable Work History
You don't need healthcare experience to land a nursing-assistant position, recruiters say. The proper attitude, willingness to learn and a stable work history are considered more desirable attributes for these job candidates -- qualities you can convey on a resume.
"Too many people these days jump from job to job," says Susan Rayner, a nurse recruiter at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. "A stable work history says something about an applicant's loyalty and character."
Be Specific -- Very Specific
Detail all your work experience and be specific about any that's healthcare-related, recruiters say.
For example, instead of merely stating that you worked at ABC Nursing Home, list your daily responsibilities to paint a clearer picture of your skill set, says Josh Sturgill, vice president of client services with the medical division of @Work Personnel Services, a full-service staffing agency based in Knoxville.
"You can use more specific terms that would highlight the areas of specialty, like dealing with long-term-care patients," he says. "Describe the medical conditions and ages of patients you've cared for."
Watch Your Language
Few things bother Rayner more than nursing-assistant applicants who use the wrong terminology. "You can show a commitment to quality by submitting a clean resume that is computer-generated," she says. "But that won't make much difference if you call Alzheimer's disease 'Old Timer's disease' under your job responsibilities."
Include Certifications and Screenings
Not all nursing assistants are certified nursing assistants, who have completed a six- to 12-week program at a community college or medical facility.
If you have this special designation or any other certifications, such as CPR, these are valuable assets to list on a resume. Likewise, if you have any letters of reference, employment awards or other documents that demonstrate exceptional work, attach them to or incorporate the information into your resume.
Also, specify your own health screenings. "You should list on your resume that you are up-to-date on tuberculosis shots and hepatitis B shots, because this is very important to a potential employer," Sturgill says.
Highlight Other Desirable Skills
Are you bilingual? Speaking more than one language is a highly coveted skill in nursing today. Do you have experience in taking vital signs? Not every facility requires this skill, but it's one that can help you stand out.
Advice for First-Time Nursing Assistants
What if you've never worked as a nursing assistant? Besides listing your stable work history, use your resume to express why you want to become one and why you believe you would be good at the job, recruiters say. For instance, your objective statement could read:
To obtain a position as a nursing assistant to fulfill my desire to help people and as a first step in pursuit of a long-term career in healthcare. Future goals include education leading to an RN license.
If you are coming right from school into nursing with no practical experience, focus on your nursing classes, Sturgill says. "Highlight each class and any clinical environment [exposure] you received during school so that it can be included as part of your skill set," he suggests.
Even if you've never taken nursing classes, don't be intimidated by nursing-assistant opportunities, Sturgill advises. Becoming a nursing assistant, he says, is a wonderful opportunity to transition from another career into nursing without investing a lot of time and money in additional education.