Last time we looked at positioning your value proposition as a means to leverage your resume to secure that all-important interview. This time we will take a look at the specifics of your resume and cover letter that you need to address. 

If you are a graduate nurse, you may think you face an uphill battle with your first nursing resume. The fear of having no experience and being newly unqualified leaves, many graduate nurses wondering what details to include. In addition, many new graduates wonder how to structure their nursing resume in a way that best conveys their current skill-set and value to prospective employers. As former recruiters, we here at have reviewed hundreds of graduate nurse resumes. In this section of the blog post, we will draw on that experience to provide a comprehensive guide to creating an incredible nursing resume for new graduates.

Essentially, your new grad resume should be formatted as follows: 

  • Summary
  • Skills Summary
  • Licenses and Certifications
  • Education
  • Honours and Awards
  • Affiliations
  • Clinical Rotations
  • Work History
  • Volunteer Activities
  • References 


As a newly graduated nurse, you may not even have work experience. If you do, it is most likely that you do not have applicable work experience, and even if you do have applicable experience, it is most certainly not Registered Nursing work experience. You cannot obtain RN work experience without an RN license, and you cannot get an RN license without first graduating from an accredited nursing program.

What is more, your new graduate nursing resume should quickly convey that you are a new graduate. There is no point in trying to hide this fact. If employers are considering new graduates for an open position, then recruiters and hiring managers are going to be receptive to your situation. If they are not considering new graduates for the opening and are instead requiring experience for the position, then they are not going to be receptive to your situation. 

An experienced Registered Nurse needs to consider other factors when putting together a resume. Your resume should show the diversity of experience, not just clinical skills. It should include any business, administrative or managerial experience you have had, such as working on budgets and schedules, as well as any supervision or charge responsibilities. Mention special projects you worked on, such as cost-cutting or downsizing. List quality-management activities you were involved in as well as any interdisciplinary committees in which you participated. Mention any teaching or training you have done, including acting as a preceptor to new hires, working with students and giving in-service presentations.

Your resume should highlight accomplishments and more unusual experiences. It should not read like a job description. Therefore, it is not necessary to list all the routine duties that, say, a staff nurse performs, such as delivering patient care and administering medication, as these types of duties are understood to be part of the job. Instead, focus on experiences such as those above, or at least focus on experiences that were more important, interesting or out of the ordinary.

Finally, a few words about your cover letter. We discussed positioning yourself as a unique value proposition in Part One of the blog, but your letter does need to follow certain conventions in order to ensure the hirer goes onto reading your resume, so think of it as a virtual handshake an introduction to the main event. 

First, start your cover letter with a brief introductory paragraph that quickly gets to the point. Introduce yourself professionally, let the reader know why you are writing and do so enthusiastically. You might also praise the hospital for some recent accomplishment or milestone they have achieved.

Second, include two to three ‘key strength paragraphs.’ These are paragraphs that describe your professional strengths. The general recommendation is to describe how you are a good fit for the position in question. At, we suggest that you draw on the job description for details about what the employer is seeking. Then, describe how your skills and experience fit the criteria. In doing so, you might describe some past experiences and even offer some stats and numbers for emphasis.

Finally, end your nursing cover letter with a brief conclusion paragraph. Recap your interest in the job. Once again, summarise why you are a good fit. Thank them for their time in reading your application and tell them you look forward to being given the opportunity to tell them in person why you are the person for the job. 

Finally, you have to be excited about the product you are offering, which is you. If you are not excited, how can you expect others to be? Why bother to sell, brand, and network if you’re not excited about your own ‘business’? Become excited about yourself, your value proposition, and your place in the 21st-Century nursing job-scape.