Have you been applying for nursing jobs and instead of getting invited for interviews, you’re only hearing crickets? In today’s competitive job market, how you market your education, skills and experience in writing can make or break your job application. Gone are the days of simply writing a long list of job duties and a chronological list of past jobs.

Today’s hiring managers are looking for your personal career story – what makes you different from the next candidate. But what exactly makes a great, standout resume in 2014?

Cheryl Palmer, a career coach with the firm, Call to Career, says that there are some outdated resume practices that all nurses should avoid and some new things you should definitely include. Today she shares her top tips and strategies to help you write a top-notch resume that will get you noticed.  

Write a Professional Summary 

A professional summary highlights a job seeker’s best assets and positions that person for the type of job that he or she is seeking. It has also become common to list core competencies (or keywords) underneath the summary so that the resume is more likely to be found by a recruiter or hiring manager after it has been scanned into a database.

Showcase Your Accomplishments

A resume without crisply-worded, powerful accomplishment statements is not likely to be noticed. Many job seekers make the mistake of simply listing their duties. But a laundry list of duties makes a job seeker sound like everyone else who has done similar work. Accomplishments distinguish you from your competition. And they show that you have actually made a contribution to the organization’s bottom line.

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Create an ASCII Version of your Resume

Since job seekers often have to submit their information through an online form, it is best to have an ASCII version of your resume in addition to a Word version. The formatting in a Word document gets distorted when copied and pasted onto an online form, which is why the ASCII version is useful. The ASCII version is just plain text without the formatting. With ASCII you don’t have to worry about a bullet showing up on the other end as some other type of symbol.

Focus on Keywords

Recruiters search their resume database by keyword for their ideal candidate, so you must have keywords related to your field on your resume. Otherwise, your resume may never come to the surface even if you are highly qualified. These days most resumes are scanned into a resume database after candidates submit them. Recruiters then search those resume databases for their perfect candidates by using keywords. If you don’t have keywords on your resume, your resume may never see the light of day.

To locate good keywords, find several vacancy announcements for the type of position that you are seeking and then look for overlap in the terms that are used in the announcements. 

Mind the Gaps

If there’s a gap between jobs that is longer than three months, you need to account for the time somehow. If you did volunteer work during this time or stayed home with children, you can write this up so that you show job related skills.

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Customize Your Resume for Every Job

Employers want to know that candidates are specifically interested in the vacancy that they have available.  They want to believe that you are interested in their job, not just any job. In order to demonstrate this, you need to tailor your resume and your cover letter accordingly. It means that you have to objectively review your experience and choose to focus on those aspects of your background that directly speak to the requirements that are outlined in the vacancy announcement. That includes listing any relevant licenses as well as any desired qualifications such as experience as a charge nurse or areas of specialization.

Keep Your Skills Current

To stay competitive in today’s job market, you need to have the skills that employers are looking for.  It is a good idea to periodically review vacancy announcements in your field to see what employers are asking for even if you are not currently job searching.  That way you can stay on top of trends and maintain your relevancy in the job market. 

Denene Brox is a Kansas City-based freelance writer specializing in careers, personal finance and earning extra income. Find her online at http://www.earnmorelivewell.blogspot.com.  

Image Credit: phasinphoto / freedigitalphotos.net

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