People shouldn't judge a book by its cover. It's the age-old cliche. Unfortunately though, humans have a tendency to rely heavily on first impressions and gut instincts. We also live in a world of instant information, where if we don't capture our audience in the first ten seconds, they've probably moved on to something or someone else.
So why are you applying for a job without a resume?
Less than five percent of the nursing applicants that come into our facility leave a resume. Those that do have a far better chance of capturing the attention of our Director of Nursing and scheduling that first interview. A resume not only highlights your clinical skills and experience, it also shows that you are organized, you possess important technical/computer skills, and that you have a higher degree of professionalism than your competition.
Most of the professionals that do leave a resume have written a respectable document. Just having one is half the battle. But occasionally I receive a resume that is so poorly constructed it speaks more about the applicant than if they had merely filled out our five-page application and left. Misspelled words, incomplete information, poor formatting, and a disheveled presentation can be a buzz-kill on what should be a glowing advertisement of you, the healthcare professional.
Below are some beginner's tips for preparing your nursing resume. These are only beginner's tips, and there is a wealth of information on the web. There is no need to get fancy. Your goal is to organize the information in a professional manner; you are already speaking volumes about yourself just by taking the time to create this document. Good luck, and feel free to ask me directly if you would like any assistance.
1. Employers already understand your basic job duties as a Nursing Assistant or a Charge Nurse. Don't use valuable space listing daily job tasks such as passing medications, assisting with ADLs, or communicating with physicians and families. Instead, list individual accomplishments, committee participation, and newly acquired skills gained from each position you have held. Items such as "Participated in Safety Committee", "Attended CNA Day at 2005 IHCA Convention", and "Received Perfect Attendance Award Three Years in a Row" have a much larger impact than listing daily job duties. Honesty is key.
2. Don't be cute. Fancy fonts, colored paper, and other gimmicks may differentiate you from the next applicant, but remember, your goal is to be professional, not tacky. I suggest sticking to one of four fonts: Times New Roman, Tahoma, Arial, or Verdana. These fonts are easy to read and professional. Comic Sans is an attractive but extremely over-used font; I highly recommend not formatting your resume with it.
3. Provide accurate contact information. If you can't remember the name of the facility you worked at in 1988, don't include it on your resume. Nursing Facilities really do check references, and there's nothing worse than calling the names and numbers provided by an applicant only to find that the information is incorrect. If a reference is worth using, then contact them ahead of time and let them know to expect a reference call. You will get a much better reference this way than if the person is caught off-guard.
4. Follow an excepted format. Most resumes follow reverse-chronological order, meaning your most recent position is listed at the top and latter positions further down. Professional advice says keep the resume to one page; anything more won't be read anyways, and don't use staples. Here is a sample RN resume template from microsoft.com.
5. Don't make your name the largest words on the page. If you do, it speaks volumes about the type of person you are.
6. Have someone else proofread your resume. The last thing you want to do is hand me a one-page advertisement of your skills that contains spelling errors. Don't rely on spellcheck either, because it won't always catch grammatical errors. I can't tell you how important it is to have other people review your resume before you distribute it.
7. Only hand out crisp, clean copies. This may sound petty, but once again, your goal is to be professional. There is nothing professional about a resume that has been folded in half, stuffed in a coat pocket, soaked in coffee at a diner, and slobbered on by your nephew. If you hand me a mess, that's exactly what I'll think of you.
These are very basic tips for creating your CNA or Charge Nurse resume. Your resume is a living, breathing advertisement that tells the healthcare world how great you are at taking care of people. Remember, when you submit a resume, you are still required in most states to complete a formal application. Most employers will allow you to write "SEE RESUME" on the experience page if you bring one. Ask whoever takes your application to attach your resume to the TOP of the application; The great thing about your resume is that it literally stands out in a pile of 50 pre-printed facility applications, so you don't want it stapled underneath your formal app.