A well-crafted resume is incredibly important for any job. If your skills and experience are not effectively communicated on paper, potential employers are less likely to consider you for a position.

The same rings true for nursing. If you are a veteran looking to find work in a civilian healthcare capacity, it is important for you to be able to write an effective resume that gets you to the interview.

Whether you served in the armed forces as a combat medic, navy corpsman, military nurse, or received some other form of medical training, here are some tips for crafting an effective resume in order to land a nursing job.

Tips for Crafting a Nursing Resume With Military Experience

1. Translate your skills over to the job you’re applying for.

During your time in the military, you likely acquired several relevant skills that translate extremely well to a nursing career. Use your resume to express those skills to hiring managers.

For example, the military likely taught you how to think quickly and adapt to change with little notice. This is a highly relevant skill to the healthcare industry, as no two days are ever going to be exactly the same and situations can quickly escalate. Think through the skills you have obtained while serving and do some research to determine how well those skills will transfer over to a nursing field. You may want to consult some professionals in the industry as well.

Once you have considered your skillset, select a few that are the most applicable and feature them prominently on your resume. Remember that soft skills and interpersonal skills are just as important as technical skills.

2. Format your resume correctly.

While writing your resume, you may be tempted to write multiple pages expressing in detail the professional experience you have obtained and why it makes you a good candidate.

Unfortunately, if a resume is not formatted correctly, it is unlikely to be read. This is because often employers don't sort through every resume they receive but rather run each resume through a filter called an applicant tracking system (ATS) that analyzes the resumes and filters out resumes that don't match the job description. Even if you are the perfect candidate for the position, if your resume is incorrectly formatted, it may get tossed aside.

As approximately 75% of employers use some form of ATS, it is important to pay close attention to the structure of your resume. Here are some tips for formatting your resume correctly:

  • Keep it simple: Remember the point of a resume: To quickly communicate information about you to the hiring manager. With this in mind, avoid long paragraphs and full sentences. It is also best practice to keep your resume fairly short—generally no longer than one page long.
  • Use lists: Wherever possible, default to bulleted or numbered lists. This will prevent your resume from becoming too wordy and help both the ATS and your potential employer understand it.
  • Be concise: Resist the urge to show your entire hand in your resume. Remember that the resume is only one piece of the puzzle and is intended to get you to the interview. Your resume is the 10,000 foot view of your background, so you don't need to go too in=depth with it. You can provide more information in the cover letter and interview.
  • Avoid graphics: As tempting as it may be to throw in a professional headshot with your resume, graphics can confuse the ATS, so it is generally best to avoid them.
  • Review the job description: An ATS will often evaluate resumes based on the job description that employers provide, so it is important to tailor your resume to the specific job you are applying for. Incorporate keywords and terms that you see on the description when applicable so that your resume has a better chance of getting through the filter.
  • Keep your employer in mind: While it is important to format your resume in a way that accommodates the ATS, remember that at the end of the day the resume is going to be reviewed by a human. Consider sending the resume to a friend or family member and have them tell you whether it makes sense or not.
  • Carefully select your template: If you decide to use a resume template or online resume builder, make sure that it follows the aforementioned guidelines. There are several templates that look visually appealing but would make an ATS's head spin, so be careful to select a resume with good formatting.

Although the formatting of your resume is one of the most tedious aspects of writing your resume, it is also one of the most important, so be sure not to neglect this step.

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3. Speak to your accomplishments.

In addition to highlighting your duties, you should also use your resume to speak to any accomplishments that could tie back to the job.

For example, do you have experience with patient care? Have you held any kind of nursing position in the military? What medical training have you accomplished? Use your resume to highlight these accomplishments and communicate them clearly to your potential employer.

Once again, carefully review each of the job postings to see if there are any applicable terms that you can incorporate into your resume. Be honest—don't exaggerate or claim to have experience in an area in which you don't, because if you make it to the interview process, the employer will ask you specific questions about your work experience and will be able to tell if you were overly creative.

4. Work with a career counselor.

Any great college or nursing program will have career counselors or academic advisors whose job it is to help you get a job after completing your degree. Make sure to leverage this resource when seeking a job in medical care.

Career counselors will be able to help you determine your career path, workshop your resume, conduct mock interviews, and more. Working with a career counselor can help you prepare you for future interactions with potential employers and write an effective resume that gets you the interview.

5. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

Proofreading is one of the most important steps to crafting an effective resume. Especially in a field in which clarity and organization are incredibly important, your resume should be clear of any errors. After all, why would an employer want to put you in charge of entering a patient's medical information into a system if your resume is riddled with typos?

It is also essential to ensure that your resume is easy to understand for those who have not served in the military. Avoid using abbreviations or acronyms in your resume that may confuse your potential employers and cause them to discard your application. One way to avoid using military jargon is to ask a non-military friend or acquaintance to proofread your resume to ensure that it is easily understandable and devoid of typos.

6. Above all, be proud of what you’ve done.

Your resume is your opportunity to take pride in and communicate what you have done in your professional career. This is your opportunity to speak to the positive impacts that you’ve had and the difference you have made in others' lives. This can include your military experience, as well as any experience you have in other healthcare focused roles such as paramedic or navy corpsman.

Remember that if you are proud of what you have accomplished and confident in your abilities, it will show in how you present yourself through your application.

How to Switch From Military Medic to Nurse

If you are a former military medic or navy corpsman, making the switch to civilian nurse is well within your reach. The first step is to ensure that your resume contains the educational requirements necessary to apply for nursing positions.

Obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is an important first step to pursuing your desired job. This guide will walk you through the steps necessary to make the transition from military medic to civilian nurse.

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