There is no doubt about it. Nurses are in demand. According to the American Nursing Association, it is estimated that in 2022, there will be more open registered nurse jobs than any other profession. In Arizona, nurses are always in high demand, partially because Arizona has the 10th largest population of older adults. Current HRSA projections show Arizona will have a demand for 98,700 registered nurses by 2030.
Even with this unprecedented demand, employers are looking for dedicated professionals. The competition is still fierce. Good nurses are caring and compassionate. They are also organized, skilled at problem-solving and critical thinking, and intelligent communicators. Not everyone can or should be a nurse. So employers are scouring resumes to glean clues about which applicant to call for an interview. Your resume is your first impression. Are you putting your best foot forward? Here are six tips to maximize your resume to make a great first impression.
#1: Add Strategic Keywords
First and foremost, it is critical to remember that an applicant tracking system (ATS) will most likely read your resume before a human will. This computer software looks for important keywords or phrases that define the type of nurse the employer is looking for. You can find these keywords or phrases in the job post. They are used more than once and are specified as very important. You could also research the employer’s website and incorporate keywords and phrases from their mission statement, values, or company culture.
Choose keywords that describe your skills, experiences, certifications, goals, education, and other professional qualities. Use these keywords or phrases in your resume and cover letter, but don’t just list them in a bullet. Write them into descriptive sentences using active verbs and details about how you acted on those keywords.
The tracking software will rank your resume based on how many relevant keywords or phrases are found. This step is so critical for applicants to address. Do not skip it.
#2: Use Action Verbs
When describing your skills, always use action verbs. Action verbs can be keywords, but use them even if they are not. These verbs explain your experience and your work ethic. Action verbs are powerful and can set you apart from other applicants. They show experience, motivation, and commitment to the profession. Some action verbs to consider are:
Make sure to use these verbs in complete sentences that explain exactly what you did. Specificity is important, which is why it is our next tip.
#3: Be As Specific As Possible
It will be worth your time to customize your resume to the job you are applying for. If the job requires certain skills or education, highlight your experience there in a little more detail. The tracking software will not understand what you mean if you are unclear, and neither will a busy recruiter.
Also, don’t include information that is not relevant to the job. This could be personal health information, family information, hobbies, or volunteer work. Keep your resume relevant to the job you are applying for.
#4: Keep Your Resume Short
Being specific will help limit the length of your resume, which is our next tip. The general rule is to keep your resume to one page unless you have had a long career or a lot of highly applicable education or experience. If that is the case, two pages are acceptable. However, even if you have had an extensive career, it’s not always necessary to include every job on a resume. We recommend including relevant jobs from the past 10 years that best highlight your qualification for the job you are applying for. Your resume should be focused, clear, and concise.
#5: Hard versus Soft Skills
Most job postings will ask applicants to show both hard and soft skills. The primary difference between these skills is how you learn them and how you use them on the job. Hard skills are technical and are learned through education or training. Hard skills include clinical tasks like IV insertion, wound care, and medication administration. Hard skills also include patient and family medical education, training on medical devices, and training on how to transfer bed-ridden patients. Soft skills are personality traits that have been developed over our lifetime. These include communication, empathy, teamwork, and compassion. Both categories are crucial to the success of any nurse on the job. Your resume will stand out if it incorporates both soft and hard skills, because employers will see you as more well-rounded than other applicants.
#6: Include Accomplishment Statements
Your resume should not just be a list of jobs and education. Effective resumes offer information on how you can benefit the hiring organization. Recruiters are looking for prospective employees who have and will produce results.
Within each of your past and current job listings, add 2-4 bullet points highlighting your accomplishments at that job. Use actual quantifiable results as often as you can. For example, if you work in a hospital unit, write a bullet stating how many patients you care for every day or how many babies you’ve delivered. Using numbers tells an impactful story that a reader can easily understand.
You can also add qualified results, which are not numbers but can still be influential when talking about your soft skills. Here’s an example: “I developed a cross-functional team to better serve patients with several disparate diagnoses to streamline caregiver communications to family members. Family members report increased clarity in team communication and diagnosis education, which has increased their comfort level with the patient’s care plan.” Qualified results can also tell a memorable story if written in a way that delivers the result as a specific accomplishment.