What’s The Best Resume Format For Nurses?

Resume Writing






You know the saying, “Save the best for last!”

One of the last courses we did in nursing school was “Resume Writing.”


It was such an important course because it would open doors to our future – the icing on the cake.

This was one class everyone paid attention to, because if you didn’t know how to write a resume, then how could you to get a job? Nursing school would have been a wasted four years of hard work.

I can still hear the professor’s voice saying,” Write your name on the left corner of the page and the reference in the center…”

We faithfully memorized this format and used it to apply to every job, only changing the name of the employer.


A lot has changed since then, and you have to keep up with the best practices when it comes to resume writing.

One thing you need to remember is why you are writing the resume in the first place.

The purpose is to land an interview with the company and hopefully get the job.

So, what format should you use to write your resume?


Depending on your experience and what the employer is looking for, I’ll talk about four different formats. There are several types of formats, but these are the most common.


Chronological Resume Format:

The chronological format starts by listing your work history with the most recent position first.

The employer will find it easy to see what jobs you have had, how long you had them, what positions you held, and if you have the skills they are looking for.

If you have a work history, this format works best.

If you are a new nurse with no history, this may not be the best format to use.


Functional Resume Format:

Functional resumes focus on your skills and experience.

They tend not to have any dates.

They are best used by new nurse graduates who have no nursing experience, but can talk about skills they acquired while they volunteered or what activities they did in college.

Here they can talk about their leadership skills.

Functional resumes are also best used by nurses who have changed careers and are new grads, but can talk about their previous experiences.

If they managed a bank, for instance, they might use this to emphasize their team-building abilities.

Functional resumes can also be used by nurses who have had a long history of working in several different departments and units – those who, if they use the chronological format, may not get the job because they may appear overqualified.


Combination Resume Format:

This resume is a combination of the functional and chronological resume.

It starts by listing your experience and skills first, followed by your employment history.

This format allows you to target an advertised position as well as emphasizing your skills.


Targeted Resume Format:

Targeted resumes are tailored for specific jobs.

For example, an advertisement for a case manager position or a clinical instructor position.

They are good if you feel that you are a great fit for the position they are advertising.

It takes a lot of skill to format them well, but they can get you an interview quick.


Whatever format you decide to use, remember that the person reading your resume will scan it quickly to see if you fit what they need.

One thing you want to avoid is making your resume boring to read and off-putting to the prospective employer.


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  1. Wonderful site. Lots of helpful information here. I’m sending it to several buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks to your sweat!

    • Joyce says:

      Thanks for your gracious comment.
      I’m happy you find the information helpful.