Common Resume Mistakes for NursesDecember 7, 2020
In most areas of the United States, nurses are in high demand. It’s a difficult, demanding job, so it’s no surprise that nurses continue to be highly sought-after employees.
But not all nursing positions are created equal, and the best opportunities tend to be very competitive. These positions usually go to the nurses who do the best job selling their skills and experience, which is mainly accomplished with a well-crafted nursing resume.
If you can avoid some of the resume missteps being made by your peers, you’ll be one step ahead. Here are the most common nursing resume mistakes, as well as tips to help avoid them.
Being Too Vague
One of the most common nursing resume mistakes nurses make is being too modest and imprecise. Writing, “Managed patient care” is less impactful than “Coordinated care for 15 patients in the ICU.” When possible, use numbers and figures to paint a more concrete picture.
If possible, you should also show how you improved metrics in the workplace or launched new initiatives. This allows the person reviewing your application to imagine the specific impact you would have if hired.
Using the Same Resume for Multiple Applications
While it’s easier to use the same resume every time you apply for a job, you’ll find more success if you personalize it. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a pediatric nurse, be sure to mention any experiences working with children. Most recruiters only spend about 7 seconds looking at a resume, so you need to highlight all relevant expertise.
If you’re applying for multiple positions that have similarities, you can create a few versions of your resume with slight adjustments for each position. Examples include crafting a nursing administrator resume template if you’re applying for multiple jobs that fall into that category.
Not Tailoring Resume to Online Applications
Many large hospital corporations use software that filters out resumes without specific keywords. If your resume doesn’t have those keywords, it may be automatically discarded – even if you’re a perfect fit for the job.
Read through the job posting carefully and pick out some keywords to add to your nursing resume and cover letter. If the job is for a nurse in the hospice unit, the post may include words like hospice, palliative and geriatric – so add those to your resume and cover letter. Be especially careful of this if you’re using a generic nursing resume template, as you may need to add specific keywords.
If you’re applying to work in nursing homes and assisted living apartments, mention words like nursing home or assisted living in your resume.
Not Including a Cover Letter
You should still include a cover letter, even if the application states that they’re optional. A cover letter is your chance to demonstrate your knowledge and passion for nursing, and to explain what sets you apart from other applicants.
The ideal cover letter should be one page with three to four paragraphs. Don’t use the cover letter to regurgitate the information in your resume. Instead, the cover letter should expand on what your resume already says.
Not Checking for Errors or Typos
A basic typo can disqualify your application, even if you’re the ideal candidate. Use a service like Grammarly, which will point out typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. You should also double-check all the information on your resume and cover letter, even basic items like your mailing address, phone number and email address.
Being a nurse is all about having a detail-oriented mindset. Making a mistake on your nursing resume may show an employer that you’re more likely to make a mistake while taking care of a patient.
Ask a trusted coworker, mentor or supervisor to read through your resume and cover letter. If you’re creating multiple versions of the same resume, check each one for errors and mistakes. Also, if you’re using a generic nursing resume template, be sure to check that there aren’t any errors. There’s no reason to be penalized for a mistake that wasn’t yours to begin with.
When emailing or uploading the application, read everything aloud to double-check for errors before hitting send.
Not Explaining Employment Gaps
If you took time off work to raise a family or to care for a loved one, be sure to explain it in your resume. Don’t just hope that the employer won’t notice a year-long gap. It may even look suspicious if you don’t address it. The cover letter is the best place to do this because you’ll have more room to explain what you were doing during this time.
Not Including All Relevant Information
A nursing resume is the one place where it doesn’t pay to be humble. You should include all relevant attributes, like awards, degrees and certifications. Always mention any languages that you speak, no matter how obscure they are. Depending on what part of the country you live in, speaking a specific language could send your application to the top of the pile.
Volunteer positions can also be worthwhile to include, especially those related to nursing. You don’t have to write that you’re the president of your child’s PTA, but if you’re on the local cancer agency’s board, that’s worth mentioning.
Having trouble coming up with ideas? Talk to your spouse or best friend. Sometimes other people can remind you of the accomplishments that you’ve forgotten. They can also help frame things in a way that sounds impressive.
Incorrectly Using Credentials
Most nurses have a variety of educational and professional credentials, which must be spelled out in a specific way. If you use the wrong acronyms or the wrong order, it may take you out of the running for a job.
Your education should be the first credential mentioned, including:
- CNA: Certified Nursing Assistant
- LPN/LVN: Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse
- ADN: Associate Degree in Nursing
- BSN: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- MSN: Master of Science in Nursing
- DNP: Doctorate of Nursing Practice
Next, you’ll list the nursing license you have, either a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). After that, you’ll list any other specialty credentials you have, like if you’re a Nurse Practitioner (NP) or an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN). This website has a full list of credentials and the correct acronyms.
Discussing these extra credentials is also useful in your cover letter. This is especially true if you’re applying for a competitive position in a specific niche. You should also mention if you’re currently in the process of receiving another degree or certification.