How to Write the Perfect New Grad Resume

With only one page to highlight your achievements and qualifications, it is important to make sure your resume grants you with an awesome first impression.  This post will cover how to draft an impressive resume that will deem you a hire-worthy applicant with each and every application that you submit.

Click through to find out how to write the perfect new grad nursing resume and stand out among a sea of applicants!


 
The Basics

While some of the other sections may depend on the experiences that you've had, here are the essential items that should be on your resume:


Header

Your name should be the largest text on your entire resume and is typically listed in all caps. Underneath your name, you'll want to list a current address, telephone number, and e-mail address (and always be sure to double check these before you submit any application).


Education/Certifications

You'll definitely want to include your latest schooling along with your degree and your graduation date or anticipated graduation date.  I can practically hear the burning question for this section:  should I include my GPA?  A good rule of thumb is to add your GPA if it is a 3.5 or above.  Also, don't forget to include any honors you received/will receive at your graduation.  Any certifications such as BLS/ACLS or your nursing license (if you've already passed NCLEX) should be listed to show that you meet the minimum qualifications for the job.


Profile Summary (optional)

You can utilize this section to discuss the characteristics you possess that qualify you for the job in one or two sentences. Here’s an example:

Diligent and caring new-graduate nurse dedicated to providing patient-centered, innovative care.  Recognized as a competent member of the interdisciplinary team with a record of establishing rapport with patients, delivering safe and effective care, and quickly adapting to any clinical setting.

Power tip: Align your statements with the core values or vision statement of the organization to which you are applying.


Your Experiences
 
Work Experience

If you have work experience, you absolutely must include it on your resume.  For each position that you've had, you'll want to include the duration of time you worked, your title, and a brief summary (bullet points) of your duties/transferrable skills.  Please be selective about what work experience you include in this section.  Remember that you only have one page to present yourself as an all-star applicant, and that doesn't mean that you should list the basics we covered above and 10 prior jobs.  Only list jobs that are 1) the most current and 2) that you've obtained skills from that will aid you in the nursing position that you are applying for.  When you are listing transferrable skills, you'll want to utilize strong action verbs (ex: collaborated, demonstrated, intervened, provided, etc ).  Please don't feel like you don't have a chance if you don't have any work experience to list on your resume.  Kendra and I both did not have any work experience and we were both hired onto specialty units after graduation!


Activities/Extracurriculars

Not only will including extracurriculars market you as a well-rounded applicant, it is also important to keep in mind that you probably obtained marketable skills from these activities.  Don't forget to list any leadership positions that you held and a brief summary (action bullets) of what your responsibilities were.  Use the same judgment here as you will with work experience.  You don't want to include so much here that it takes up valuable space that you could use for other sections of your resume.  You'll want to list only the experiences that are the most current or that you participated in the longest, and from which you've gained skills that you can use in the nursing profession.  You can list your extracurriculars with the same format that you would for work experience.


Volunteer Experience

This is not as much as a necessity to list on your resume if you have work experience (work experience generally holds more weight and you can bring up any pertinent volunteer experiences during an interview or in a cover letter).  However, if you don't have work experience, you'll want to make up for it with this section.  Volunteer experiences that you list will speak to your character and present you as a qualified applicant if, just as with the above sections, you include current experiences that taught you marketable skills.  List these in the same format as your prior jobs and extracurriculars.


Clinical Experience

Some new-grads like to include each of their clinical experiences on their resume.  There is nothing wrong with adding these if you have the room.  But do not stress about making these fit, especially when you can discuss clinicals in a cover letter or an interview!  If you do have space for your clinical placements, include the name of the clinical, the location/clinical site, and the hours you logged (refer to your syllabi if you can't remember).  If you are dying to show off clinical placements but just can't sacrifice the room, a good compromise would be to only highlight your senior practicum.  You'll definitely want to include it if your work experience is lacking or if the practicum is closely related to the job to which you are applying.  List where you completed your practicum, the hours you logged, and all the skills you completed (see where that clinical journal comes in handy?).  Here’s an example:

Happy Healthy Hospital, Women's Services, Senior Practicum (180 hours)
* Collaborated with members of the healthcare team to provide individualized care to mother/baby couplets, gynecology surgery patients, laboring women, and infants in the nursery
* Communicated effectively and respectfully with patients and their families and members of the healthcare team
* Documented patient care services accurately and timely in patient medical records
* Consistently recognized for establishing rapport and delivering empathetic and compassionate care


What Will Truly Set You Apart

Now that you have an idea of what to include in each section of your resume, let's talk about the number one way you can make yourself stand out and appear as one of the most qualified applicants for the position (hint: I alluded to it in the profile summary section).  It is absolutely vital that you match your resume content with the requirements/responsibilities that are presented to you in the job posting.  Using the language of the institution shows that you are a qualified applicant because you are basically giving them what they are asking for!  And this can be done throughout your entire resume!  So this means that with each application you submit, you'll want to tweak your resume so that it aligns with what that particular institution is looking for in a nurse as well as its' core values.


References

Never submit a resume without a list of references who can vouch for you and validate your experiences.  Ideally, you'll want to have at least three people who would be delighted to speak to potential employers about you (make sure you ask them if it's ok for you to list them as a reference first). You don't have to make all three of your references nursing instructors or clinical instructors.  While one should definitely be a faculty member from your program, you could also list people such as your senior practicum preceptor, a manager from your latest job, or the volunteer coordinator of an organization you've worked with for a while.  If a person can speak to the transferrable skills you've obtained during your time with them, they would make an excellent reference.  Remember to list them in the order that you prefer that they be contacted.
 
So there you have it!  Those are our tips and tricks for crafting a competitive resume! Are you confident in your resume?  Or do you need more help?  Comment below and let us know!