Monday, May 30, 2016

Avoid Three Common Nursing Resume Mistakes

In 2016, resumes are still very important for nurses, whether you're just out of school or a fully seasoned nursing professional. Resumes aren't rocket science, but many a nurse feels confused and baffled by how to make their resume work. Why not avoid some common mistakes that will weaken your resume from the start?

1. Flaunt Your Credentials

You shed blood, sweat, and tears to earn your credentials, right? So, why do so many nurses fail to place their credentials after their name at the top of their resume? Don't make the reader search for the education section of your resume in order to discover what degree you have. If you're an RN, BSN, MSN, or DNP, place those credentials at the top of your resume, right after your name!

2. Have A Professional Summary

I've seen far too many nursing resumes wherein the resume begins with a list of the nurse's education, or jumps right into experience. Rather, begin your resume with a professional summary that elucidates and clarifies who you are, what you've accomplished, what makes you tick, and why you're amazing.

Your summary can be significantly longer than you think. Look at it this way, most resume readers' eyes will begin to glaze over as they scan down your resume, so why not hit them over the head with a well-written summary that gives them an instant snapshot of what makes you an amazing candidate. Here's an example:

Dedicated Masters-prepared Clinical Nurse Specialist with two decades of acute care experience. Successfully championed infection prevention and control initiative between 2013 and 2015, resulting in 40% overall facility-wide decrease in nosocomial infections.

Areas of clinical focus include infection prevention and control, cardiology, post-thoracic surgery management, pediatric cardiology.

Highly creative clinical leader. Designed and facilitated clinical skills-building activities for new nursing graduate onboarding program.
Excellent communication skills; adept at establishing relationships, building rapport, and facilitating communication between physicians, surgeons, and nursing staff. Created successful Grand Rounds program, resulting in ongoing collaboration between cardio-thoracic surgical team and nursing team.
This individual has painted an action-packed picture of her experiences, strengths, and quantifiable successes, all before the reader has even looked at her experience! Get the idea?

3. Leave Out Your References

It's very old school to have "references available on request" at the bottom of your resume. It's also not appropriate to include your managers' or supervisors' names for each position you've held; people leave workplace constantly. and you don't want to provide faulty information. When a potential employer wants references, they'll ask for them, perhaps on an online application.

Make It Count!

Make your resume count, nurses. If you worked long and hard for your degree, and if you've earned your stripes by digging deep into your professional nursing career and positions, why not invest time and energy in having the best resume you can possibly have? If you're moved to spend a few hundred dollars on having a professional resume written, or you want to hire a career coach to help you, it's an investment in finding the best job you possibly can.

This is your nursing career, folks. Invest in it, and avoid common mistakes that could make your resume less then stellar.


Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.

Keith is co-host of, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of "Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century." He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews News Service,, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.

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