April 7

New Graduate Nurse Resume : 2019 Guide


Congratulations on graduating from Nursing School!

You survived all exams, labs, clinical placements, and perhaps even passed the N-CLEX RN/PN.

Now, your next important step is writing a resume that you can be proud to submit.

And that's where this article comes in. To help you craft your new graduate nursing resume.

Let's start...

Nursing New Grad Resume Basics

Every good resume needs to grab the readers attention within just a few seconds.

In fact, it's common knowledge among resume professionals that you need to stand out in only 8-seconds. 

The basics of creating a decent resume are:

  • the use of clean fonts no smaller than 10 point
  • organizing the information in a logical manner
  • consistent formatting
  • omitting tables
  • using only plain black bullets
  • utilizing perfect spelling and grammar
  • using the correct tenses
  • quantifying your achievements
  • saving your resume with your name and desired position
  • ensuring your email address portrays a professional image

However, in the highly competitive field of nursing, your new grad nurse resume needs to be much more than just 'decent' to stand out.

A fully personalized and key-word optimized resume is essential to get you past the robots and in front of the Human Resources team.

What are Keywords and Where are the Robots?

Any time you apply online that “apply now” button, it runs your resume through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Due to a large number of applications, many employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to check for keywords in your resume and rank you against both the job posting and other applicants.

Employers insert keywords detailing the required qualifications, hard skills (capabilities) and soft skills (traits)  into the job description and rank them according to priority. The ATS program then scans the resumes that are received and assigns a score to each. The top-ranking resumes are then reviewed by the Human Resources Manager.

Even if you successfully integrate keywords Applicant Tracking Systems can’t read text in tables, text boxes, headers, and footers. Unfortunately, that is exactly how most free templates are formatted.   A lot of highly qualified people never make it past ATS due to poorly written or outdated resume formats.

Fortunately, most ATS is intuitive and can extract key messages as well as keywords. However, some ATS software only scans the top third of your resume for keywords. Other ATS software will reject resumes that have obviously listed keywords. The key is a well-written resume that naturally integrates the keywords into your professional summary and job descriptions.

new nurse resume

Review the Job Posting Carefully (Example)

As you already know, there are all kinds of nursing jobs available including in a general hospital, community outpatient facility, rehabilitation center, long term care facility, cancer center, children’s hospital, government agency or non-profit organization.

 Research the facility that you are applying to and tailoring your resume to fit their needs is crucial.

Here’s a portion of a recent ad for a new RN graduate:

What we are looking for:

We are looking for energetic and compassionate new Registered Nurse graduates to join our growing team at PRHC. Our ideal candidates are strong team players who thrive in a fast-paced environment. We are looking for candidates ready to start their nursing career with a leading healthcare facility. If this sounds like you, we want to hear from you!

The Role:

The RN, as one of the providers of health care, has a unique role in promoting health, preventing illness, and helping clients attain and maintain the highest level of health possible. S/he is responsible for providing comprehensive care autonomously to patients, with predictable and unpredictable outcomes, who may or may not be clinically stable. The RN practices in accordance with the College of Nurses of Ontario Professional Standards.


  • Current Certificate of Competence from the College of Nurses of Ontario, or eligible to obtain a permanent or temporary certificate of competence
  • Current medical or surgical nursing experience preferred
  • Current BCLS
  • Excellent assessment skills
  • Excellent verbal communication and written documentation skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work well with patients, families, staff, physicians and the intra-professional care team
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team
  • Demonstrated commitment to continuing education
  • Demonstrated good attendance record and ability to maintain same
  • Basic computer skills and knowledge
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain a good attendance record and meet the performance standards of the Health Centre

Additional specialized unit-specific qualifications (not required):

Canadian Nurses Association – Medical/Surgical Certificate an asset

  • Coronary Care 1 an asset
  • Gerontology certificate an asset
  • Added Nursing Skills associated with Medical Units

What Makes You the Ideal Candidate?

The first category on your resume is a professional summary, where you briefly describe your professional skill set (your hard skills), reiterate that you can meet the challenges of the job and state what unique qualities (your soft skills) you bring to the prospective employer.

Applying for the above position modify your professional summary to read:

Enthusiastic and empathetic recent Registered Nurse graduate, seeking to become an integral member of a fast-paced healthcare facility, working both independently and collaboratively while employing excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills to provide the best comprehensive care to patients.  Recent experiences in a palliative care ward, as well as a surgical ward, evaluating and treating both clinically stable and unstable patients and compassionately explaining predicted outcomes to family members makes me an ideal candidate for this position.

Essential qualifications include:

Current Certificate of Competence from the College of Nurses of Ontario

Gerontology certificate  |  Coronary Care 1 | Current BCLS

Demonstrated Excellent Assessment, Communication, and Interpersonal Skills

The next step is to list your professional and other relevant work experiences.

As a New Grad, Maximize Clinical Experiences with Killer Job Descriptions

As a recent nursing school graduate, your most relevant hands-on experience will likely be your clinical experiences. Clinical experience can vary widely among students, so it is very important to clearly describe where you worked and what you accomplished.

When listing clinical experiences always include:

  • Work setting (what department or setting you worked in)
  • Type of patients (elderly, newborns, palliative, pre or post-surgery)
  • Types of Equipment you used (ventilator, multiple IVs, catheters)
  • Different therapies you performed (deep suctioning, pain management)
  • Any medications that you administered
  • What you achieved in the position

Integrate strong action verbs into your job descriptions

  • Completed head to toe assessments of elderly patients in respiratory distress, measured oxygenation, work of breathing (WOB), lung function, airway resistance, and air flow before applying ventilation mask.
  • Assisted preceptor with the care of 8 palliative patients each shift.
  • Managed post cardio surgery patients on mechanical ventilators, provided written reports on PEEP, PIP, Ftot, Fi02, VT, VE ventilator settings and learned to recognize what the numbers that went along with each meant in terms of the patient’s overall condition.
  • Administered CPR, performed intubations, and urinary catheterizations, assisted with a tracheotomy.
  • Observed and determin ed the correct procedures to administer and read lab tests, x-rays, MRIs, Ultrasounds, and EKGs.

Here’s a partial list of action verbs that can be easily incorporated into nursing job descriptions: assessed, evaluated, observed, measured, calculated, gauged, treated, administered, applied, executed, performed, explained, educated.

Should You List Every Job?

List only other job experiences that are relatable to a new grad nursing position. Do not mention working in a fast-food establishment while in high school. However, relevant jobs, such as patient transfer or working as an aide in a senior’s residence allow you to expand upon applicable soft skills as well as hard skills. We will cover soft skills in more depth below.

Highlight which part of your previous job relates to nursing.

Transferred over 120 patients, monitored vitals and general alertness while still creating a comfortable environment to ensure they felt at ease during the transfer.

Assisted 20 long term residents with daily personal care, including bathing, dressing and eating as well as taking vitals and recording them for the nursing staff. Advised nursing staff of any unusual changes in residents’ behavior or attitude.

Do Volunteer Experiences Count? 

Volunteering shows that you care about your community. While all volunteer experience should be listed on your resume ensure that you feature your volunteer roles that are relatable to nursing. For instance, if you help to organize fundraisers that involvement deserves a mention but if you have consistently volunteered with St. John’s ambulance include bullet points to expand on that experience.

Provide first aid and emergency response at the scene of community events such as 5k and 10k charity runs, weekly Old Timers soccer games, festivals and other sporting events.

Remain in a state of preparedness to assess sprains, strains, dislocated fingers and ACL injuries.

Treat and stabilize patients prior to transport, reporting patients base vital signs to EMS.

How Can I Use My Soft Skills Experience Towards a Professional Nursing Job?

As a recent nursing graduate, you have taken years to develop the hard skills required to pursue a nursing career. Intubation, inserting a catheter, reading an x-ray, inserting a PICC line, suctioning a patient on a ventilator are all hard skills.

Soft skills are your unique characteristics that enable you to be an outstanding nurse. You have likely heard about brilliant doctors that are not well liked by patients because they have a terrible bedside manner. They have all the knowledge and expertise yet are lacking in soft skills to make the patients feel comfortable.

Soft skills are basic personality traits or attributes.  When you can be counted on to maintain an above average attendance record while meeting all performance standards you have a strong work ethic. It is a habit that you will take with you from job to job.

Because soft skills are not as tangible as hard skills job postings for nursing roles may use a variety of keywords to describe each skill.

Top 7 soft skills, with examples of  relevant keywords

  1. communication skills (verbal communication, written documentation, assess, educate)
  2. enthusiasm/attitude (positive, professional, motivated)
  3. teamwork (works well with others, helpful, works co-operatively, collaborates)
  4. interpersonal skills (empathy, friendly, compassionate, supportive, accommodating, enthusiastic, respectful)
  5. problem-solving & analytical skills (decision making, creative thinking, critical thinking)
  6. accountable (decisive, responsible, liable)
  7. leadership (conflict resolution, educating others, mentoring, managing, coaching, supervising)

How to Integrate Soft Skills Naturally Into Job Descriptions

Listing your soft skills may meet keyword matching requirements for applicant tracking software, but it won’t make you stick out. Integrating soft skills into job descriptions naturally is difficult, but your resume is your first, and maybe only, chance to make a great impression.

Most resumes include excellent communication skills. Stand out by demonstrating your abilities by stating that you complete the patient assessment, develop a plan of care, educate the patient on expected outcomes and communicate the information during transfer of patient responsibilities to co-workers.

Similarly, instead of just saying that you have a great attitude explain that you develop a positive rapport with nursing facility residents by bringing humor to mundane daily support tasks.

Collaborating with a nutritionist, physical therapist and the post-surgery patient’s family to ensure the patient has a full recovery is a great way to incorporate the concept of teamwork.

To validate interpersonal skills, affirm that you formulated positive relationships with palliative care patients and their families by keeping them informed of changes in the patient’s condition, responding empathetically to tough end of life questions and remaining calm and confident during crisis situations.

Depict utilizing problem-solving & critical thinking skills by showing that you can assess and care for patients with increased acuity and multiple chronic illnesses while overcoming staffing shortages.

How Do You Stand Out?

Once you have finalized your resume, ensured the formatting is correct, spelling and grammar are perfect, and you have put in what you hope are the right keywords you are all set. Right?

A great resume should always be accompanied by an outstanding cover letter. The cover letter lets you explain why you are the ideal candidate in more detail.

Your cover letter is your elevator pitch. It must quickly point out two things.

Why YOU (what specific soft/hard skills do you have that will benefit them, and what value can you add to their service) and;

Why THEM (what do you know about their department; their special equipment or divisions)

Need Help?

Writing a professional, personalized and optimized resume is no easy task. That’s why Emergency Resumes is here to help. We have a team of writers who are passionate about crafting top-quality resumes, and we’re damn good at it!

Reach out to us to get your unique, personalized, and keyword optimized resume and get a hard start on your track to success.  


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