StaffGarden Blog Rock Your Resume Nurse Beth

What you really want is to get hired.

If only they could see you in person, they’d immediately realize what a great fit you are for the job. But first the resume.
You may be the best candidate in the world, but if your resume does not make you stand out, they will never know.

If you are not landing interviews, chances are the culprit is your resume. It must be relevant and up-to-date. Yesterday’s resumes are a simple list of previous jobs and responsibilities. Today’s resumes are a showcase of accomplishments, skills, and what you can do for the employer.

Let’s take a look at which resumes get tossed into the wastebasket & which ones #GetNoticed.

Imagine This…

First, picture Ashley, a human resources  (HR) assistant. Ashley’s boss says that today her assignment is to screen nursing applications. There are 325 resumes in the queue and Ashley must narrow them down to 50 to pass on to the hiring nursing managers.

Ashley’s been told to work fast because the hiring nurse managers need to schedule interviews for the upcoming Transition to Practice Program.

Ashley is not without experience in screening resumes, and can scan a resume in 6.25 seconds (the industry standard). While this is Ashley’s first time screening nursing resumes, she knows enough to identify candidates that stand out from the others.

Ashley  has developed an eagle eye for typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors.

She sets her coffee down, pulls her wastebasket closer, and settles in.

The Lesson:

As an applicant, you have SIX seconds for your resume to catch the reader’s eye. Your resume must stand out from the others.

Grammar Girl is Right.

Ashley knows that hiring managers assume that an applicant who submits a resume with typos will also be careless in their work.

Lucky for Ashley, many of the resumes this morning contain grammatical errors. This makes her job easier because she can toss them straight in the wastebasket. She’s pleased to see her pile of resumes is dwindling nicely.

At one point, Ashley laughs out loud and calls to her co-worker Tiffany. “Score! You have to see this one.” She holds up a resume professing “I would love the opportunity to work at Happy Hospital (name of a competitor hospital in town).” Ashley drops the resume in the wastebasket. “I’m going to grant her wish.”

The Lesson:

Savvy nurses have others proof their resume. Typically your own eyes do not see your own errors (until you hit “Send”). In some sectors of the print production industry, the standard is to have nine separate editors proof an article before it is published.


StaffGarden Blog Rock Your Resume Nurse Beth

Nix Non-essentials.

While speed-scanning resumes, Ashley notices that many applicants painstakingly spell out basic nursing skills. Even as  a non-nurse, she is puzzled. Don’t all nurses start  IVs, suction patients, develop care plans? Isn’t that like a teacher saying they can read? She shrugs and keep searching for resumes that set the applicant apart from others.

They are hard to find. After awhile, all the resumes are starting to look the same. At lunch, Ashley asks her boss why many nursing applicants use an entire page to describe their clinical school rotations in detail. She replies that many nurses don’t realize that attending school is a given and should not be included. The exception is a senior capstone clinical experience if they are applying to a specific area.

Back at her desk, Ashley nods approvingly at a resume where the applicant left off “References available on request”. She knows it’s outdated and unnecessary to include this, as employers will request references if needed. But then she sees that the same applicant included their GPA of 3.25.  Oops. Ashley knows that GPAs of less than 3.75 are better left out.

The Lesson:

Do not include basic skills that fail to set you apart from others. Hiring managers know you went to school, and that’s really all they need to know. A lengthy description of clinical rotations is off-putting. GPAs should only be included if your GPA is high and sets you apart.

StaffGarden Blog Rock Your Resume Nurse Beth

Professional and Relevant

Ashley tosses and resumes without a second glance. By contrast, she puts those resumes with along with StaffGarden profiles in the Consider Pile.


Put your best (well-shoed) foot forward in your resume and present a professional image. It is not a time to show your hip side or to reveal that you are out of touch.

Tired Terms and Mumbo-Jumbo

Still later, Ashley asks  Tiffany to help her screen the rest of the resumes.  Tiffany agrees but only if they can  play Resume Bingo. “Sure,” says Ashley breaking out the Bingo cards and handing some to Tiffany. “Winner buys coffee.” The Bingo cards include squares with “team-worker”, “good communication skills”, “detail-oriented”, and the instant winner spot “strong leadership and organizational skills”. Before long, Ashley and Tiffany have filled several cards and both have Bingo’d multiple times.


When an applicant places over-used terms on their resume, it diminishes their chance of standing out from the others. While tempting to use, fillers and vague cliches make for a cookie-cutter resume. Using examples will set your resume apart. Ashley takes a break, sips her coffee and daydreams.  She wonders if she should branch out and start her own resume consulting business.

StaffGarden Blog Rock Your Resume Nurse Beth


• Proof your resume to make sure there are no errors.
• Delete “fillers” and non-essentials such as descriptions of clinical rotations and GPA.
• Beware the mind-numbing and over-used terms.


You may say, “That’s all very well, but now my resume is blank. As a new grad with no experience, what should I include?”

Great Question! Now that you know what to avoid, it’s time to learn how to compose a winning resume.

Next time, we’ll show you how to make sure your resume stands out to help you land that all-important interview.

Best wishes,
Nurse Beth



Beth Hawkes

Beth Hawkes

StaffGarden Contributor

Author Nurse Beth, MSN, RN-BC,  is a Nursing Professional Development Specialist, and a well-known career advice columnist and writer. For more of Nurse Beth’s articles, visit