Nursing Resumes: Still Relevant in the 21st Century


Published: 10 December 2019

In the 21st-century landscape of nurses seeking employment, competition for jobs is high and making sure you stand out from the crowd of qualified nurse applicants is important.

There are a number of tools in the nurse’s career-building toolbox, and one that still carries its weight is the good old-fashioned resume.

Person typing on a laptop | Image

No matter what anyone says, resumes haven’t gone the way of 8-track tapes and analogue answering machines.

You still need a sharp and well-written resume to get the position you want, so make sure yours is ready for prime time.

The last thing a busy nurse needs is to stay up until 4:00 in the morning throwing a resume together under duress; rather, if that nurse simply has an updated resume on their computer at all times, they’ll never need to experience the stress of last-minute resume panic.

Isn’t the Resume Dead Yet?

Younger applicants new to the job market may have hopes that they’ll never need to write a resume.

While there are definitely an increasing number of positions to apply for without one, not having a well-crafted resume at the ready could definitely leave opportunity and money on the table.

If a nurse seeking employment applies for a position on LinkedIn that features the ‘Easy Apply’ feature, a resume may not always be necessary.

Meanwhile, there has been a rise in job search apps that have jettisoned the resume in favour of a robust electronic application that can be used for any position posted on a particular platform.

Having said this, some of these online application portals still allow for the uploading of a resume in document form, and some may actually require it.

The Uses of a Resume

So, even if you’re able to apply for some positions online with a resume, are there other uses for a document that, for some, seems so anachronistic? There certainly are.

Let’s say you’re at a local café reading a magazine and drinking a coffee, and you strike up a conversation with the person at the next table. You soon realise you’re speaking with the chief nursing officer of a hospital where you’ve been trying to get your foot in the door for over a year.

She’s very forthcoming and seems very interested in introducing you to some key individuals in her organisation.

If you happen to have a copy of your resume in your bag, you can hand it over then and there. If not, you can ask for this person’s email address and send it to her as soon as you get home.

A side note, this is also a moment for you to whip out your trusty business card; yes, a nurse can have a business card with their contact information and credentials on the front and five or six brief bullet points describing their nursing experience on the back - this is kind of a mini resume.

Person passing business card | Image

Other occasions when a resume may be useful for a nurse may include:

  • Applying for a position on the board of directors or advisory board of a non-profit or other organisation
  • Running for a position as an officer within a speciality nursing association
  • When co-writing a grant
  • Applying for a certification
  • Any number of other situations that may arise in the course of a long professional career.
Healthcare professionals having lunch together | Image

Ear to the Rails

Nurses should keep their ears to the rails to listen for the rumblings of changes in the job marketplace.

While baby boomers and gen X-ers grew up in a world where the internet and online job applications were just science fiction, millennials and the subsequent generations can expect every aspect of their life and career to become increasingly digitised and automated.

In this respect, the resume may indeed be dead in 30 years (or less), and the entire notion of a printable resume document may seem laughably archaic.

However, in current times, resumes are still relevant, and nurses on the job market need to pay attention to the quality of their resume and know how to tailor it for certain opportunities, along with their LinkedIn profile, cover letters and other tools in the nurse career toolbox.

Technology and the job market will continue to change. For nurses, paying ongoing attention to what’s expected and what will help a candidate stand out above are crucial.

The resume remains one career tool worthy of tender loving care.


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Keith Carlson View profile
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on many social media platforms---including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram - as well as at and Digital Doorway.