The Nursing Student Resume: Don't Forget These 6 Things Employers Want to See

female handing resume to human resources

You’ve put in all the hard work and graduation’s quickly approaching. Bigger and better things are on the horizon. Chief among them is your first nursing job!

It can be intimidating to enter the job market for the first time. You don’t have much experience to leverage and you may not have many professional connections to help get your foot in the door. If you’re at a loss as to where to start, you’re not alone. And you definitely wouldn’t be the first to wonder what, exactly, healthcare facilities are looking for in nursing candidates.

“Hospitals want to hire nurses who can come in right away and fill a void; nurses with experience, valuable skill sets, good teamwork and communication, autonomy and critical thinking,” says Derek Florence RN, BSN, CCRN.

Translation: Market yourself in a way that catches the eye of the hiring manager through a cleverly crafted resume. Keep reading to discover what ultimately makes for a top-notch nursing student resume.

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6 Nursing student resume must-haves

1. A strong statement

Start your resume off with a professional statement. This should be a two or three sentence statement front and center on the resume, directly under your name and contact information. Use this to highlight why your unique skillset, experiences and education make you an ideal candidate for the position.

It’s important to tailor your professional statement to align with the precise position for which you’re applying, as each facility and job posting will call for different qualifications. Make a strong first impression by mentioning a few of your strengths and qualities while addressing why you’d be a great fit for the job.

2. Healthcare experience

Highlight any clinical experience you have under your belt, especially if you’re fairly new to the field. Be specific about the details of your clinical site – such as geriatrics or pediatrics – so employers will have a better idea of what you’ve been exposed to.

But what if you don’t have much direct experience to showcase? This is a common cause of concern for many new nurses. This is where it can be beneficial to have volunteer work or other healthcare-related jobs on your resume to show you’ve already started getting your feet wet in the field. Hospitals and community clinics often welcome volunteers in a variety of roles.

3. Examples of your teamwork

While a high GPA may look nice on paper, hospitals and clinics need their new hires to be able to work effectively with their coworkers in the healthcare setting. Interpersonal, leadership and teamwork skills are crucial to any nursing role, so it’s in your best interest to highlight examples of when you’ve excelled in these areas.

“Emphasize your past leadership experiences or ability to work well with others through extracurricular activities,” Florence suggests. “These show that the student nurse has gone above the status quo of simply going to class.”

4. Relevant soft skills

Soft skills aren’t things you can be tested on, and they’re not represented in your GPA. However, they are extremely important to those hiring new nurses.

“While a good GPA is obviously critical to a resume, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story,” Florence says. “A new nurse needs to be able to convey who he or she is outside of just a number.” Some soft skills can be introduced in your professional statement, but these should also be highlighted throughout your work experience on your resume.

Some other desirable soft skills to highlight are communication, critical thinking, problem solving, multitasking, communication and flexibility.

5. Hard skills from experience

While the soft skills are important to include throughout a nursing student resume, you should also showcase the technical skills you’ve acquired from hands-on experiences. Designating a section on your resume to highlight these hard skills can be helpful for employers.

These skills will vary depending on the type of program from which you’ve graduated, but it’s important to highlight your practical knowledge. Some examples might include patient evaluation, general patient monitoring, pain management and record keeping. Additionally, you should feature the different documentation software programs with which you have experience.

6. Awards & distinctions

If you’ve received any honors, awards or certifications that relate to the field in any way, be sure to feature them on your resume! These extra accolades can give an employer a good indication of your character and work ethic.

Set yourself apart from the crowd of applicants with any honors you’ve received. And they don’t only have to be related to nursing. Any accomplishment of this kind can tell a prospective employer a lot about you as a person and as a potential employee.

Nursing student resume no-no’s

While there are plenty of expert tips on things you should make sure to include in your resume, there are also a few things our experts say you should avoid at all costs. For example, don’t feel obligated to include relevant coursework on your resume. It’s unnecessary and can crowd the page with too much text.

You should also resist the urge to include basic technology skills like Microsoft Office, as most employers assume these skills are now universal in applicants.

And of course, never provide a resume with typos or grammatical errors. Don’t under-estimate the importance of proof-reading and asking for outside feedback. If you’re currently enrolled in a nursing program, take advantage of the expert insight you have available to you in your instructors.

Are you ready to land your first nursing job?

While crafting a nursing student resume may be intimidating, remember that it’s all about providing an honest representation of yourself while marketing your strengths and desirable qualities.

Once you catch the eye of your dream employer with your impressive resume, it’s time to make a lasting impression in your interview. Check out our article for advice: 12 Nursing Interview Tips that Might Surprise You.


About the author

Kristina Ericksen

Kristina is a Digital Writer at Collegis Education where she creates informative content on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about the power of education and enjoys connecting students to bright futures


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