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Building Your Resume

Russell, Judith BSN, RN

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: January 2009 - Volume 109 - Issue - p 22
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000343104.46931.40
Article
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Find your dream job—help recruiters find you.

Judith Russell is vice president of client solutions in the health care division of the Bernard HODES Group in Lake Forest, CA.

Contact author: jrussell@hodes.com.

Because hospitals currently compete so fiercely to attract nurses, you may be asking yourself, “Do I really need to create a resume?” The answer is yes. Whether you're a student or an experienced nurse, you should start building or updating your resume now.

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WHAT SHOULD YOU INCLUDE?

Put yourself in the shoes of prospective employers and ask yourself what they would like to see in a resume. Your resume is a summary of your professional career. Here are some ideas for enhancing the standard list of positions and dates.

  • List your accomplishments in a bulleted list and try to quantify them. For example, if you worked in sales at a retail store while you were in school, consider how many repeat customers you had and estimate what percentage of increased business resulted from your excellent customer service. If you participated in a task force or committee at your facility, be sure to mention those assignments and their outcomes. Also, if you have done volunteer work at your church or in your community, include that information and be as specific as possible about what you did and the results of your service.
  • Elaborate on skills that you will bring to a new specialty area, such as critical thinking and communication. Include any relevant coursework you have completed.
  • Write a realistic, specific objective. State what you want to do in the future. Indicate that you want to pursue additional training for the new position. The recruiter will appreciate seeing the clear career path that you have articulated.
  • List any current or past memberships and awards. I recommend listing associations, sororities, fraternities, honor clubs, and even social networks if they are professionally relevant. You may want to list your blog or Web site. Again, only include these if they are linked to a professional purpose. Keep in mind how “public” the Internet is. If you have a blog or profile page on a social networking site, either make it private for your circle of friends and family or understand that recruiters may review it.
  • Remember that the days of a “pretty” resume are over. Virtually all applicant tracking systems (company Web site pages where you submit your resume) strip out most formatting. Bullets, underlining, and italics are fine. Too much formatting can actually lower your resume's chances of being found in recruiters' searches. A plain, professional-looking font will upload easily while still looking sharp.
  • Keywords are key! Imagine searching for a potential employee like yourself: how would you proceed? Use keywords in your resume that the recruiters will use. Some examples are nurse, RN, registered nurse, critical care, and ER or ED (emergency room or emergency department). You can list several keywords in a white font at the bottom of the resume as well; search engines will pick them up, but employers won't see the keywords on-screen or when they print the resume.
  • Include the number of years you held a position or assignment along with the dates. Recruiters like to see the number of years you have worked at a certain organization; that saves them from having to calculate it themselves.

Update your resume every six months to a year—and each time you start a new job—to ensure that you are ready for any opportunity that might arise.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.