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How to Write a Registered Nurse Resume

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If you want a registered nurse's resume that will stand out from the crowd, create a document that a recruiter can easily scan for the most important information. Your resume should be easy to read and formatted to make relevant skills and qualifications stand out.

Resume Prep

Before you create that "scannable document," as Johns Hopkins School of Nursing calls it, you have to understand what's important to the employer hiring for the job. Some employers might consider a certain number of years experience to be most important, while others will want an RN with experience in a certain specialty, such as dialysis or post-surgery step-down. Your resume should always be tailored to the job you're applying to, so before you write it, take a good look at the job posting to identify the top five skills, qualifications or experiences the employer wants you to have. Be ready to highlight those when you start writing.

The Career Summary

At the very top of the resume, write your name followed by your professional designation, such as "Jon Smith, R.N." Include contact information underneath your name. Following that, create a section titled "Career Summary." This is where you highlight the "top five" list you compiled. Create a series of five bullet points. After each bullet, write a concise description of the skill, qualification or other important detail that you possess that the employer wants, using the same keywords mentioned in the job posting. Think of it as a teaser to the rest of your resume, which helps a recruiter quickly see the most important information. For a community health job, for example, one bullet might say "Five years experience as a community health center nurse." Another bullet might say, "Health mentor to youth at an inner-city community center."

Experience Setting You Apart

Next comes the "Work Experience" section of your resume, where you'll list your previous jobs in reverse chronological order. Name the job title, the employer and the years worked, followed by a brief description of your duties at each job. Donna Cardillo, an RN who mentors nurses on career strategies, writes on her website that you shouldn't use valuable space writing about routine duties that any hiring manager will assume you know. For example, don't include "delivering patient care." Instead, mention specific experiences that will set you apart, such as serving on patient committees or having experience in a management role.

Easy-to-See Formatting

Follow the Work Experience section with an "Education" section that highlights where you earned your RN degree, as well as any other relevant education such as an LPN or APRN degree. If you're currently studying to become a Nurse Practitioner or to otherwise advance your nursing career, mention it and include "In Progress" after the school name and the dates attended. Also include a Volunteer or Awards section, if relevant to the job. To make relevant information stand out even more, add bold formatting to the most important words. If surgery experience is crucial, for example, include bold format on the words "three years in a surgery unit" in the Career Summary section, and then highlight the job title "Surgical Nurse" in your Work Experience section.


Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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