To land a nursing job, your resume needs to include a list of the skills that make you good at patient care, as well as a list of the technical skills you possess. You have more than one option for listing that information on your resume, including listing your skills in a "Work Experience" section, or arranging them in a bullet-point list of skills in a less-traditional resume format. However you do it, including the right keywords will help your resume get noticed.
Every resume you create should be tailored to a specific job and that employer's needs. Before you create your resume for a job, look over the job posting and write down any keywords that are described as "essential" or "required" for the position. These are keywords you definitely want to include somewhere on your resume, so that those words get recognized by any resume sorting software the hospital or health care facility may be using to screen candidates.
General Nursing Skills
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, important qualities that registered nurses need to have to do their jobs well include critical thinking to assess the needs of patients and make decisions about their care. They also need compassion to care for patients, and emotional stability to be able to handle potentially-difficult situations. They should also be detail-oriented, physically strong, and have organizational skills that help them keep charts and patient information in order. If you're looking for keywords to describe yourself and the innate skills you'll bring to the job, these qualities can be a good place to start. (
Another important set of skills to include are the ones related to the specific duties you've done in the past. Avoid mentioning generic duties such as "caring for patients," suggests the health care professionals website Blue Pipes, and instead focus on specific skills. That could include administering specific medications, or using specific types of equipment related to the specialty. List the age ranges of your past patients, the number of beds in the health care facility, and the specialties you've worked in. If the job posting mentions the need to have a specific skill and you have that skill, definitely include it on your list.
Skills on a Traditional Resume
If you're a nurse with lots of work experience related to the job for which you're now applying, use the traditional reverse-chronological resume format to include your list of skills. With it, list your most recent jobs in reverse chronological order, with the most recent one at the top of the Work Experience section. Name the job title, the health care facility, and the years you worked there. Then move to the next line and create a bullet-point list of three to five skills that pertain to the current job, which also illustrate your past experience. Use a mix of the general nursing skills as well as the job-specific skills named above.
Skills on a Skills-Based Resume
Use a skills-based resume if you don't have work experience that's similar to the job for which you're now applying, or you've been out of the work world for a while. Under your contact information, create a section titled "Relevant Skills," and then create headings such as "Cardiovascular Care" or "Labor and Delivery." Under those headings, create a bullet-point list of specific skills you have that pertain to that field. Refer to the list of general nursing skills to fill in the gaps and provide more detail. For example, you might include "ability to make quick decisions under pressure" to illustrate the critical thinking skills you employ when working in the Intensive Care Unit.