OPTIMIZE: 5 TIPS TO BOLSTER YOUR TRAVEL NURSING RESUME
Your travel nursing resume is one of the first pieces you need to land the job of your dreams. Whether it’s your first time applying to become a traveling nurse or you’re looking for a new opportunity and want to highlight all that you accomplished during your travels, here are the top things you need to know to submit an A+ resume.
The must-haves: Typical format of a resume for travel nursing
There are a few ways to organize your resume, but we listed the most important information to include in the resume to provide a template for your resume:
Always include this information at the top of the page, however, do not include it in the header of a Word doc. In the case that your resume is sent through an Applicant Tracking System (more on that here), it will not be able to process your content info in the header.
Always put your name first followed by your highest credential, whether it’s a degree, licensure or certification. Also include your current location, phone number, email address and relevant link to online profiles you want to highlight your nursing expertise, such as a LinkedIn page (leave out your personal Facebook and Instagram!).
Career summary or objective
Travel nurses have the power to go anywhere, and because of this, employers are curious what makes their facility in their city stand out to you. Add a career summary (also called objective) — to address why you want to become a traveling nurse, why you want to work in a given location and what makes you perfect for the position.
If applicable, research the hospital or clinic or talk to someone that works there to discover a specific quality or trait about the facility that you are attracted to. Maybe it’s their mission statement or their reputable work. Maybe you can help them solve one of their challenges. Showing this level of specificity proves your interest in the position and knowledge of the industry that may set you apart from other candidates.
Credentials including degrees, licenses, certifications, awards and relevant training
In this section, nurse.org recommends listing every credential that you’ve earned in your career in the following order: “Highest degree earned, licensure, state designation and national certifications.” This section is also an ideal place to highlight other accolades earned through industry organizations. Also include additional training or volunteer work.
How to format credentials: List the full name of your credentials in addition to the acronym and location of where it was earned. For example, “Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN), University of Washington.” And if applicable, list your license or certification number, the certifying body, and expiration date or date that the certification was earned.
Professional work history and relevant experience
By listing the facilities where you worked, your titles, and highlighting key duties and achievements in each role, you’ll be able to show future employers proof of your work and qualities that make you a strong candidate as a traveling nurse.
Focus on highlighting achievements in your past that have prepared you to become a traveling nurse such as flexibility, adaptability, patience and strong communication skills.
Specifics to include: Facility name and type, level, total beds, unit, caseload and a summary of tasks, highlighting key achievements.
Computer and technical skills
As a traveling nurse, the technology you use will be as diverse as your patients. Use this section to list your experience with EMR or other systems you have used, how much time you spent with it, and the key duties you performed.
How long should your resume be?
Don’t worry about it. (For real!) Especially when you work with an agency to land a job as a traveling nurse, it’s best to include all the details of your career to provide a comprehensive story of your skills and who you are as a nurse. Plus, the longer you work as a traveling nurse, the longer your resume will become.
However, if you’re applying directly to an employer, keep in mind that they look through a lot of resumes just for one position. Only include the must-haves above and keep your sentences tight. If you are looking for a place to cut length, the career summary is a good place to start. Or if each of your work history entries contains a paragraph of information, cut it up into bullet points and only highlight the key pieces.
Another reason that you do not need to worry about the length of your resume is because many traveling nurse resumes are sent through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that tends to generate resumes as PDFs and uses large fonts and spacing, which creates more pages. There are a few other things to keep in mind about the ATS system, which is covered next.
How to make your resume stand out to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
We know, we know. It can feel disheartening that your rich history and hard work may be first scanned through a machine and not read and appreciated by actual humans. Unfortunately, that’s the reality for many positions.
If applying for a job without an agency, you can recognize an ATS if you have to enter information in addition to submitting a resume. However, when working with an agency, you won’t always know if your resume will be scanned by an ATS, so it needs to be readable for both humans and machines. Here are a few tips to help your resume appeal to ATS:
- Use keywords from the job description. This is why it’s important to include the full name and acronyms of terms because you won’t know what the ATS will be scanning for. However, only use them when appropriate because an abundance of keywords could lower your score.
- Keep headers simple so the ATS can recognize it. The resume is not a place to show personality, so do not use creative headers or career summaries/objectives.
- Use simple formatting. Round bullet points and line breaks are fine to use to help break up your resume and make it easy to read but avoid graphic elements like photos and images. Also avoid tables, colors and special fonts and characters.
- Include the most important information in the top third of your resume. Some ATS only scan a portion of the resume. Follow the order listed above to incorporate the most crucial info first.
Network, network, network
As your recruiter, we can help you take your resume to the next level, but don’t discount the opinions of your fellow travel nursing co-workers. If you work with others who have traveled before, ask them if they’ll review your resume. Their feedback can help you take it to the next level and make your resume everything you hoped it would be.
Of course, there are plenty of groups out there operated by travel nurses, for travel nurses, like TravelTalk.org or The Gypsy Nurse, so always leverage those when needed. The community for our industry is a valuable tool to the individual nurse looking for advice.
Utilize your recruiter
Another reliable place to go to for advice is a recruiter. This is what we do! At OneStaff, we help nurses create killer resumes for traveling positions and help them live out their traveling and career dreams. We can help you with suggestions for what employers are looking for and, in some cases, even what certain employers are looking for. We’ve seen it all, good and bad, and we’re ready to help you surge toward the good.
Hit us up for expert resume advice to begin your next adventure.
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