I’ve been reviewing some people’s resumes and I figured we need a primer specifically for us advance practice nurses! So here are the basics, and some tips that I’ve learned along the way.
Resume vs. CV (curriculum vitae)
A resume is concise (approximately one page), adaptable and customizable, and targeted for the specific position you’re applying to. It includes your education and work experience.
A CV is detailed, can stretch well beyond two pages, and is a full record of your career history. It includes all your education, honors, awards, grants, publications, presentations, employment and experience, scholarly and professional memberships.
For most clinical nurse practitioner jobs, a resume will be sufficient. Sometimes certain jobs, especially academic or research based jobs, may ask for a CV so it’s good to have an updated version of both.
This primer is mainly for resumes, but CV’s could use a lot of the same tips.
Name and Contact Information
Make sure the initials behind your name are in the correct order. If you need a refresher, look here.
For your contact information you can write your home address, but if you live far away from the potential job you can leave that out. Always include a phone number and an email address. Double and triple check that this information is correct! It would be so embarrassing if the hiring manager was intrigued enough by your resume to contact you, but couldn’t because your contact information was a typo!
Start With Your Objective and/or Qualifications
People do not have time to read every word on your resume, so make it easy for them. You need to make it clear immediately as to why you’re applying to this certain job. List your most relevant qualifications to that job. For example, when I was making a resume for an occupational health and urgent care clinic, I emphasized the school and work physicals that I did at my previous job, and highlighted my experience as an ER nurse. When I’m applying to a more administrative position that includes program design then I list how I piloted the senior care improvement program at my clinic, and how I founded a community health organization. For clinical positions, I like to list my language skills first and foremost. You get the gist.
Of course you will list your grad school and undergrad. However, this is also a place where you can include a section on your continuing education. “What?!” you may ask. Seriously though – especially if you’re a pretty new nurse practitioner, your resume will look like everyone else’s if you don’t show a clear interest in whatever field that job is in. If you’re applying for a nurse practitioner position at a pain clinic, you need to show an interest in pain management. So take some extra training classes or even just some continuing education courses online that focus on pain management and list them here.
Certifications and Licenses
Here’s where you can list your licenses, your BLS and ACLS certifications, your DOT certifications. I list my license numbers and expiration dates, mainly for my own benefit so I can remind myself when to renew them, haha!
List your work experience starting with your most recent. You really should have a different resume for different types of jobs, and for each one of these I would highlight the aspects of that job that would be most relevant to the new one you’re applying for. I include my RN experience in this area as well. I would say that your high school job at Subway might not be the most relevant, so if you’re cramped on space, you don’t necessarily need to include this.
When You’re a New Grad
When you don’t have much to put under work experience, remember to list all your RN jobs, and then if it’s still really sparse, it doesn’t hurt to put your clinical rotations, especially the ones that are most relevant to that job you’re dreaming about.
I use this area to highlight the clinical skills I’ve mastered such as suturing, IUD placement, toenail removal, joint injections, etc. Don’t list skills you wouldn’t feel comfortable demonstrating to your new boss on the first day though. I also like to keep track of the EMR’s I’ve used in clinical (even if it’s just at your clinical rotation!) For example, I list E-Clinical Works, NextGen, Centricity, and Powerchart. I list languages under here as well. As with every other part of your resume, list the most relevant skills, not every skill you’ve ever acquired. Keep some things under the wraps for now– to be revealed randomly in lunchtime conversations six months down the line (like your expert perfect-chocolate-souffle-making or cute-mini-crochet-Amigurumi-animal-making skills).
Honors and Awards and Publications
If you still have room in your resume, you can include these, especially if you’re super proud of them. These should definitely be listed in your CV.
Storing, Updating, and Sending Your Resume
I have both my CV and resume in my Google Drive as Google Documents because they are constantly getting updated, and then you can access it anywhere. You never know when an exciting opportunity will drop into your lap, so it’s good to have them available at your fingertips. I also have multiple versions of my resume for different types of jobs and I name each file accordingly (ie. Resume_OccHealth). When sending them it’s more professional to send a PDF since it’s a finished document that no one can edit it. Tip: Google documents allows you to save your file as a PDF (File–>Download As–>PDF document).
Keep your formatting clean and simple.
Keep it concise.
Use active verbs when describing your previous work experience.
It doesn’t hurt to sprinkle in keywords that are in the job description if they apply to you.
In a New York Times Op-Ed interview of Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of hiring at Google, he explains how to write a good resume in a way that I thought was enlightening:
“The key,” he said, “is to frame your strengths as: ‘I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z.’ Most people would write a résumé like this: ‘Wrote editorials for The New York Times.’ Better would be to say: ‘Had 50 op-eds published compared to average of 6 by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years.’ Most people don’t put the right content on their résumés.”
Hope this helps! And as always, comment below and let me know if you have any other suggestions or tips on NP resumes.