Your Nursing Resume: Professional Summary or Objective?

by: Keith Carlson

In 2016, resumes are still the norm in the nursing marketplace, and many applicants struggle with the summary or objective. Do you have an objective or summary on your resume? If not, do you need one?

Employers review hundreds of resumes; it’s likely that your resume will be quickly scanned by someone with tired eyes and a fatigued brain. How will you catch their eye and get placed in the interview pile?

The Objective

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Most current opinions frown upon the generic resume objective statement. The objective usually says something like, “Motivated nurse seeking MedSurg position where excellent communication skills and high-quality patient care are valued,” or, “Experienced critical care nurse seeking position in high-acuity setting.”

 

Don’t waste valuable resume real estate w/ vague statements that don’t say who you are. [icon name=”twitter” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

 

Doesn’t the reader already know that you’re looking for a job? Does your objective really tell them anything important about you?

Some experts recommend an objective for newer nurses with little experience, or nurses in the midst of a massive career change (like switching specialties). Even so, you have skills and experience that can be highlighted; why waste valuable real estate with vague statements that don’t say who you are and what you bring to the table?

The Summary

 

A professional summary gives the reader something to chew on; it draws attention to your special qualifications, experience, or skills, and if some of those can be quantified, all the better.

Rather than tell the employer what you want (an objective), tell the employer what you have to give. The employer knows you want a job; tell him or her why you’re the best candidate, and how you’ll meet their goals and exceed their expectations.

In creating your summary, pick out the key words that the employer has used to describe the position or the candidate they’re seeking; peruse their website for explanations of their mission or values. Use their language and reflect it back to them, filtered through your experience and accomplishments.

 

Rather than tell the employer what you want, tell the employer what you have to give [icon name=”twitter” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

 

Summary Examples

 

Let’s say you’re applying for a position in the ED; use your experience to your advantage, even if it reiterates some of the information in your resume or cover letter (which the aforementioned tired resume reviewer may not have time to thoroughly read):

1) Bilingual nurse with 10 years experience in the ED of a nationally recognized Level I trauma center treating an average of 50,000 patients annually. Participated in development of cutting-edge care model that decreased wait times by 33% and increased patient satisfaction by 50%. Earned hospital award for clinical excellence; member of elite intravenous access team.

2) Baccalaureate nurse with 5 years of acute care experience in well-known Magnet hospital. Two years as Charge Nurse/Supervisor on 25-bed telemetry unit. Served as Chair of Infection Control Committee, with 30% decrease in nosocomial urinary tract infections following implementation of new infection control program. Proven skills in leadership and quantifiable improved outcomes.

Do you see how these summaries use numbers and accomplishments to elucidate what’s special about these individuals? There are no platitudes, generalizations, or buzzwords. Facts and numbers speak volumes, and special keywords (bilingual, intravenous access team, nosocomial) add some spice.

Resume Real Estate

 

Every line of your resume is valuable real estate. Most every nurse will want a professional summary rather than an objective; the more your summary speaks to your specific skills and accomplishments, the more you’ll get noticed. When tired eyes scan a resume, it may be the summary that gets you the interview. Use your resume real estate intelligently, and make sure your summary highlights the value that you will deliver.

About The Author

Keith Carlson RN, BSN, NC-BC

You can read more from Keith on his award-winning blog, Digital Doorway and listen to him on RNFM Radio & on The Nurse Keith Show. 
As a Board Certified Nurse Coach, his passion is to help nurses & healthcare professionals create satisfaction in their personal & professional lives.

Author

Keith Carlson RN, BSN, NC-BC

Keith Carlson RN, BSN, NC-BC

StaffGarden Contributor

You can read more from Keith on his award-winning blog, Digital Doorway and listen to him on RNFM Radio & on The Nurse Keith Show. 
As a Board Certified Nurse Coach, his passion is to help nurses & healthcare professionals create satisfaction in their personal & professional lives.

 

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