Make your Nursing Student Resume Stand Out

NursingFebruary 24, 2015

When you're put together your nursing student resume, make it stand out. Nursing schools want the best students for their programs. Since your resume is your own personal billboard, it is your best chance to prove that you are one of those students.

Getting Past the Screening Process

Busy admissions offices have standardized methods for sorting resumes. Larger schools receive hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of resumes. When yours is received, your information is entered into a database. There, it awaits matching keywords submitted by faculty. Other schools use screeners to scan resumes and other application materials. Using predefined criteria, the fate of some resumes can be decided in seconds. The best way to match your resume with keywords and criteria is to develop or borrow a resume template and form multiple applications to different schools. Within each template, target your information to that particular program and emphasize relevant information in your resume. To improve your odds with database selection methods, include a brief, noun-heavy summary of your qualifications for the job. Think keywords here, but don't go overboard. Avoid using italics, underlines and fancy fonts — eleven point Times New Roman is an excellent choice. As long as you don't overdo it, it's also good to use bullet lists and bold subheads.

Make Your Resume Look Professional

Your resume's overall appearance should be a direct reflection of how much you care about the nursing school you're applying to. No matter how well it meets keyword and screening criteria, a sloppy, incomplete or amateur resume reflects poorly on you. Whether you send a paper or electronic copy, avoid letting it exceed two pages and don't use gimmicky ideas. If it's a paper copy:
  • Don't use staples, only paper clips
  • Don't fold your resume
  • Use high-quality paper and properly sized envelopes
  • Unless requested, avoid sending additional material

Arrangement and Style Matter

The quality of writing and logical arrangement of your resume should display your best selling points first, make the reader's job easier and leave a good impression. The most effective nursing student resume is arranged in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent work experience and education and working backwards. Keep in mind that recent information is usually more important to interviewers. Here are some of the most important elements in your resume:
  • The caption should include your name first, followed by address and contact information
  • The use of headings
  • A qualifications summary of roughly 100 words — again, think keywords specific to that school
  • "Professional Experience" and "Education" sections, limited to the "where, when and what" of your experiences in each (only include experience related to the program you are applying for)
  • A "Volunteer Work" section and an "Awards or Honors" section, if applicable
  • Use of active language (verbs) and grammatical perfection (without spelling errors)
When applying to a nursing program, remember that entrance is highly competitive. Your resume is one of the most effective tools in your application toolbox when it comes to competitively presenting yourself. By designing it neatly and logically — along with targeting it to individual programs — your resume will stand out among the crowd. 

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