Career Resources

How to Build a Winning Resume: A Webinar

Whether you’re looking for your next full-time job, first nursing position, or next travel job you need an updated and well-formatted resume. It’s your golden ticket to getting the hiring manager’s attention! It gives the hiring team a quick overview of who you are, what you have to offer and why they should hire you. Watch the video, or check out the full recap in the blog. 

Resume Formatting

You’ve got 5-10 seconds to capture the attention of the talent acquisition expert scanning your resume. Hiring teams want to see your name, where you are located and ensure they have contact information first. 

💡 Recruiter Tip: If you choose not to disclose your address, that’s ok! The best telephone number to reach you and a professional email address is acceptable. If your location is on there, keep it up to date. 

Following your name and information, comes a catching summary also sometimes called the “objective”. For your summary you need to include years of experience, most recent setting, and a couple of strong action verbs to qualify your experience and the position you are seeking. Tailor your summary to match the job you are applying for, it will stand out. The goal is to catch their attention and keep reading. Quantify yourself, qualify yourself and state what you’re seeking.

💡  Recruiter Tip: This is a perfect example of quantifying experience by using specific criteria for qualification with data from results. The objective for your employment should be clear so the guesswork is minimized from the recruiters perspective. As well as the ATS is more likely to match the resume to the attention of the recruiter.

 After your summary you would begin listing your employment history. Start with your most recent position and go back at least 7 years of positions held. List the Hospital and facility name, location, job title and dates of employment.

You want 3-6 bullet points under each job listing hard skills and soft skills that are relatable to the job opportunity you’re going for. Hard skills are acquired, learned and soft skills are what makes you a good individual to hire, your interpersonal talents.

💡 Recruiter Tip: Cater your resume for the job you are seeking. If it’s a non-clinical role, present a resume that reflects that; the opposite is true if you are seeking a clinical role. You can have your resume in one window and the job posting in another side by side. Use the same descriptive words in the posting on your resume and if you them, add the qualifications listed that they are seeking to your resume.

For example, if you are applying for a Cardiac Care Unit and you know how to manage a post CABG patient, list that in your bullet points!  This is a hard skill that is relevant to the job you are applying for.  If you are applying for an Oncology position and having experience in handling and administering chemotherapy, add it! You should include any skill you have from past positions held that will be used in the new role. Look at the job description for the role you’re applying for and add the skills they are looking for that you have.

Soft skills are who you are and what value you can bring to the role. In the healthcare world, being reliable and a team player is desired. Communication skills are valued in all positions. Effective time management in the busy healthcare environment is something to brag about. Don’t cut yourself short and find  powerful words to describe who you are!

💡 Recruiter Tip: Expand on vague statements such as “I am driven” or “I am a hard-worker” or “I’m a team-player.” Honestly, EVERY applicant says that. Recruiters like examples of this testament, such as, “ I would pick up additional shifts so that patient care wasn’t compromised at my last job,” or “I stayed out of drama, by being available and helpful for work, but not gossip,” etc. Many applicants throw out these flimsy statements, but when I press further, they often cannot provide specific instances or situations. In other words, they need to be able to give situational contexts to any “I” statements.

Harvard’s List of Action Verbs to assist in describing your skills, experience and accomplishments is a great resource for resume building. There are the ‘typical’ action verbs but if you want to get noticed, pick words that are meaningful and that standout. Hiring teams review hundreds of resumes daily, they will notice if you take the time to add extra descriptive words to your role!

The next sections should include your education, certifications, and the licenses you hold. For your education list the institution, the degree achieved, and date of achievement. Add your active license and certifications, and if applicable, add the expiration date as well. If you want to list additional skills, this is the spot to add those in.

Lastly, add your accomplishments, volunteer work, community involvement and achievements. Leave them with something to get to know you outside of your work life. This is an optional section.

Have you ever gotten a Daisy Award? Took classes to become a preceptor? Are you on a Unit Based Committee? Do you volunteer in your community? Go ahead and add on some compliments for yourself!

Application Tracking Systems

The Application Tracking System (ATS) is a robotic system that is designed to make the hiring process easier for the hiring teams. It is programmed specifically to the company and/or health system application process and key phrases. It is equipped with a parser that can rank candidates by how well they match the job in the pool of applicants received. 

The ATS is programmed to the mission and values of a company by a selection of keywords it wants and looks for on a resume. Each job listed has a job code and description. The ATS is programmed to pass the resumes that fit the description and rank the candidates. The fact the ATS can be specialized and highly specific, proves the importance of resume formatting and tailoring your resume to the job you’re looking to land.

You may think, “well they just have to read it and they’ll find what they’re looking for”. But in fact, the robotic system will reject 75% of qualified applicants and it will miss great candidates that simply do not have the formatting and layout to satisfy the system requirements.

Your resume needs to be saved as  a .pdf .docx or .doc file in order for the ATS to be able to read and scan it. Avoid adding large images or tables. The ATS can have a difficult time locating the text and could discard your resume if there are distracting factors. The tables can hide the text from the robotic system and all your hard work might get rejected by the ATS.

I can’t stress enough, optimize your resume to the job you are applying for. You will thank yourself later when you secure that perfect job opportunity you are in search of. 

What Do Hiring Managers Truly Want?

This is the main reason we make resumes right? To get hired by the managers. 

So what do they really want? They want someone who fits the bill. They want to add quality into their team as well as someone who works well with others and delivers high quality care. I’m sure you are that person described above! Your resume needs to show that. 

It can be challenging to adequately describe your interpersonal skills but it is necessary. If you have confidence in your resume, you will have confidence in your interview and secure that job.

I believe that as healthcare professionals we are accustomed to putting others first and this can pose a challenge when it comes to bragging on what value you bring forward. But  there are numerous ways to describe your compassion, kindness and those hard earned skill sets that you  possess. 

Are you entering a new setting that will require you to learn?  For each work history listed, describe what you learned, how you improved, and what you accomplished. Prove on paper that you are motivated to learn, motivated to excel, and possess a strong work ethic.

If you are  going to a new organization, check out the job description and add all the job qualifications you possess on your resume before submitting. You can help yourself get noticed quickly by matching your skills to what they want. 

If you are a travel nurse, fill those bullet points up with the hard skills and experience you can bring to the table. Cut to the chase and answer the questions they will ask already. As you list out your roles and go over your skills on your resume, this is a great way to refresh yourself on what all you bring to the table.

Be positive, show up and bring your best self forward. You got this! 

Audra Williams

Audra L. Williams CCRN, BSN, RN is a bachelors prepared nurse with 10 years of critical care perm and travel experience. She also has a background in legal nurse consulting, launching community events and creative writing. Audra is a Clinician Advocate at Vivian and is passionate about motivating and helping others become their best and reach their personal goals.

Comments (5)



Thank you so much for the tips! They are very helpful.


My name is Gilson, Brasilian, married have two sons, I’m nurse and my dream is work in the US, bat I need improve my English vocabulary. But in the future this dream will be realized. Hugs


Very useful direction…
Thank you so much



Excellent tips, thank you!


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