Most nurses are not exactly excited to work on their resume. If you’re a traveler, your travel nurse resume is changing nearly every 13 weeks. So. Annoying. “But nurses are in such high demand. As long as it says ‘RN’ somewhere on my resume I should be good to go, right?” Unfortunately not.
Have you ever heard another nurse say “If you didn’t chart it, you didn’t do it.”? It’s an aggravating statement for most, but it holds weight. We all know if you don’t chart something, it is assumed you didn’t do it. The same can happen with your resume.
A lousy resume presents you poorly to recruiters and hospital managers, which isn’t cool because you’re probably a rockstar nurse! Taking the time to create a rockstar travel nurse resume, and keep it fresh as your career evolves, will make a big difference.
Three reasons why you need a strong travel nurse resume to help you stand out.
Whether writing your resume in Microsoft Word or creating it through a resume builder like Kamana, there are specific details from your career that you need to highlight for recruiters and hospital hiring managers. We’ll unpack the details in this post, and provide you with resources for building a rock-solid travel nurse resume. Before we get into the details, let’s quickly look at why your travel nurse resume matters in the first place.
- Competition. Yes, as a travel nurse you’re a hot commodity. But there are great jobs and terrible jobs out there. When there’s a great contract, with a strong pay package, in a cool city, during the perfect season — remember you are not alone in the race. If you’ve been a travel nurse for any period of time you’ve probably lost a contract to another nurse. Was their resume better, or did they just beat you across the finish line? Either way, you can set yourself up to win future contracts by creating a travel nurse specific resume, that is ready to go at all times.
- Recruiter discretion. A nurse who is organized, ready to go, and a good fit for a travel contract is the candidate recruiters are searching for. When they read a resume they ask themselves questions like: “Is this nurse a good fit?; Are they professional?; How much editing will I need to do to this resume to make it presentable?”. A recruiter’s job is to fill hospital needs with the best fit candidate, as quickly as possible. If you don’t seem like a good fit or appear to be slow-moving, they’ll quickly take a pass. Your travel nurse resume is a prime opportunity to articulate your value. You’ll make a strong impression if you can present a kick-ass resume on the fly.
- Speed to submittal. Once you’ve passed the resume-torch to your recruiter, they’ll need to get it to the hiring manager. But before they do, it’s often going to take some manipulation. How quickly they can read, process, edit, and move your information into their applicant tracking system matters. The more time they spend here, the less time they spend completing the other tasks needed to submit you. All the while, recruiters elsewhere are working hard to put their nurse’s name in the hat.
Now let’s take a look at how to build the perfect travel nurse resume that recruiters want to see.
How to write a great travel nurse resume.
Step one, start with the basics.
Include your full name, contact information, tax home address, profession, and primary specialty.
Step two, write an objective or summary.
This is your first opportunity to capture the reader’s attention with a strong synopsis of who you are as a nurse, what makes you stand out, and why you’re a great fit. It should speak to your past career, and future objectives. It shouldn’t be too long (a few sentences, max). Show passion and give that movie-trailer-teaser on why they must keep reading.
Step three, get to the facts.
List your Licenses.
- License type (such as Registered Nurse, Paramedic, or Medical Assistant)
- State of issuance
- Indicate if it’s a multi-state or compact license. Not sure? Find out here
- License number
- Expiration date
Do this for each of your licenses, even if they’re not relevant for the position you’re searching for. For example, if you’re not interested in going to Florida you should still include your Florida License. Alternatively, many of us have worked other healthcare roles before becoming a nurse (EMT, Respiratory Therapist, CNA, etc.). If you’re still maintaining a license, showcase it!
List your Certifications.
- Certification name
- Expiration date.
- Certification number (if it has one)
These are more straight forward, but equally as important. It doesn’t hurt to include the certifying body if you feel that is relevant. Again, list them all, even if you don’t think it’s relevant to the job you’re searching for.
Outline your work history.
“Do I really want to fill this all out right now?” – every travel nurse ever
That’s how you might be feeling when looking back at your work history as a travel nurse. It can be time consuming. With all the different facilities, employment dates, and job details this becomes the most daunting task when building a travel nurse resume. However, your work history is vital and will truly set you apart. Recruiters almost immediately look at your work history to check for relevant experience. Don’t sell yourself short!
Don’t forget your Education.
You studied hard, flaunt it! Include your degree earned, graduation date, and the name of your school/university.
Be detailed in the right places. Your work history details are crucial.
There are details that make the ideal travel nurse resume far different from your typical permanent-staff-nurse-style resume. Just like with charting on our patients, we want to keep the information on our resume objective, relevant, and clear. Be sure each of the following details are included with each of your work history entries.
- Facility name. Make sure you’re using the full and accurate name here. Don’t use a nickname or an acronym. If you’re unsure of the correct name, you can look it up in the American Hospital Directory.
- City and State.
- Your Profession. This may feel redundant, but with profession changes being semi-commonplace in the healthcare world, it’s necessary to note what profession you were working during each specific job. For example, you may have first worked as a CNA before you became a Registered Nurse.
- The specialty or department you worked in. Such as Emergency Department or Intensive Care Unit.
- Start and end dates. Month and year are all that’s needed. If you’re actively working a job, simply typing “Present” is sufficient for your end date.
- Employment type. There are a handful of details to consider here. Were you employed directly by the hospital or through a staffing agency? If you worked through a staffing agency, include the agency name. Did you work full time or part-time? Travel contract or PRN? These details will guide your recruiter on where they can and cannot place you.
Why exactly does employment type matter? Many hospitals won’t accept prior employees to work at their facility through a staffing agency for a period of time. Occasionally staffing agencies will place nurses through other agencies, so they need to know who’s already worked for who. Sound confusing? It is, and you can read more about working with multiple travel nurse recruiters here.
More details to include in your travel nurse work history.
OK, so now for the fine details! Recruiters, hiring managers, and even the resume parsers are looking for specific details to match against the position they’re working to fill. The more accurate the match, the more likely the nurse is going to be a strong fit. The stronger the fit, the less training and orientation required. Concisely including these details with each work history entry on your travel nurse resume will help ensure you find the perfect fit.
- What EHR (or Charting System) did you use?
- Is this a Teaching Hospital?
- What is the NICU Level?
- What is the Trauma Level? This is relevant even if you didn’t work in the ER or on a trauma unit.
- Is this a Critical Access Hospital (CAH)? Not sure if it’s a CAH? Look it up here.
- What is the Unit Bed Count?
- What is the Patient to Nurse Ratio?
Even more details to include in your travel nurse work history.
The above information can all simply be listed out in a bullet point style format, but there may occasionally be information that requires you type a sentence or two along with the bullet list. Here are some common examples that would be relevant to share.
- Did you float to other departments, if so, where?
- What specific patient populations did you work with?
- What equipment types did you use?
- What were some commonly preformed procedures?
You’ll want these additional notes to prompt the unit manager to think: Wow, this nurse has vast experience. After a quick orientation, they’re going to be self-sufficient and perform safe patient care on our unit.
Don’t be shy here. As nurses, we are careful not to overstep our scope. We often stay in our lane to ensure patient safety. But your travel nurse resume is your time to shine. If you’ve done it, showcase it!
Do you have any gaps in work history longer than 30 days?
If you have had a gap in you work history for more than 30 days at any point within the past two years, you should explain this upfront on your resume. Travel nurses typically have some gap between contracts, so focus here on anything greater than 30 days.
This is a “less is more” situation. Unless it was a medical mission trip or something directly relevant to your clinical experience, a simple “personal time off” explanation is all that’s needed, along with the dates and the location you were living in at that time.
💡 Pro Tip: Don’t create your travel nurse resume manually.
Creating a great travel nurse resume is ton of work. Luckily we live in the digital age where you can leverage platforms like Kamana to hack the process.
Building your resume is easy and free within your Kamana profile. You can share your profile quickly, right from your phone, where the perfect travel nurse resume can automatically be generated and downloaded. Along with the credentials, documents and other professional information you’ll need to share.
Check out this Kamana Profile Share and download the Resume Format PDF to see what it looks like. Building, maintaining, and sharing your professional portfolio and credentials as a travel nurse should be easy, secure, and efficient. If you’ve not already created a Kamana profile, create one here to join the new way of travel nursing.
Seven tips for building your resume as a travel nurse.
- Be relevant. Whoever is reading your travel nurse resume is looking for details that highlight why you’re the right nurse for the job. We’ve talked so much about why being detailed is so important, but it’s also key that you keep the information on your resume relevant to your career as a healthcare professional.
- Be specific. Give them the whole picture, because it might be the only opportunity to present yourself. Don’t count on the interview, or credentialing and onboarding process, as your opportunity to show your experience.
- Be objective, and don’t be fancy. Recruiters and hiring managers are filtering through stacks of resumes. They want the facts. Not colors. Not pretty fonts. Not images. Not emojis. Just facts. Think “scanning” because whether it’s a busy recruiter, resume parser (more below!), or hiring manager they’re all asking the same question: “Is this nurse the right fit?” If your travel nurse resume isn’t quickly answering that question, there are other resumes waiting in line behind yours.
- Respect the grammar police. Use spell-check, or free online tools like Grammarly, to proofread your resume before sharing it. You’re not a sloppy nurse. Don’t let the recruiter or hiring manager get that impression because of a simple spelling error. Also, resume parsing tools are looking for specific words. They’ll likely miss them if they’re spelled wrong.
- Keep your resume fresh. As a travel nurse, your resume will get stale quickly. You’re changing locations, hospitals, charting systems, and sometimes specialties every few months. When something changes, update it. You don’t want to be scrambling to update or create your travel nurse resume when an awesome contract presents. Keep it fresh and ready to go, at all times. So when a recruiter calls with that perfect opportunity you’ve been waiting for, you’ll be sitting pretty at the top of the list.
- Ask what could have been better. If a recruiter makes an edit to your resume before submitting it to the hiring manager, ask them what they changed, and why. They might be entering details you left out, highlighting pertinent elements in the work history, or removing something that’s irrelevant. They’re making these changes to help your chances of being selected. Consider making that change to your resume permanently to increase how quickly you’re submitted, and well you’re presented, the next time around.
- Be prepared, but cautious, with your references. Recruiters can be eager-beavers when it comes to checking your references. If you include your references on your resume, you can count on them being contacted, often. Any seasoned travel nurse will tell you that references can get worn out quickly. It’s recommended that you keep your reference information on hand so you’re ready to provide it at any moment, but share contact information upon request. Respect your references time and privacy by only passing out their contact info when needed. Because even though Charge Nurse Becky loved you and only has great things to say, she’ll get tired of repeating herself eventually.
Bonus Tip: Some staffing agencies use what’s called a ‘resume parser’ to screen travel nurse resumes automatically. In a nutshell, a resume parser is a piece of technology that swiftly (but not always accurately) unpacks stacks of resumes by identifying keywords to determine which resumes are worthy of being read by a human, then moves the information into the agency’s applicant tracking system.
So how exactly does one make sure their travel nurse resume makes it past the resume parsing robot?
- Accuracy is key. These “bots” can miss words that are spelled incorrectly or phrased uniquely.
- Special fonts don’t do well. Don’t be a fancy-pants. Use something common, and dare I say … boring.
- Keep your resume detailed, but to the point. The intention of this technology is to enable faster processing and migration of candidate data. Unfortunately, particular nuances can result in great candidates falling through the cracks.
Use this travel nurse resume template to maximize success.
Here is an example of the perfect travel nurse resume. This style resume is automatically created for you, for free, when you create a Kamana Profile. And you can do all of this right from your phone or any other device.
Recruiters and employers can quickly download your resume when you send them a ‘Full’ Kamana Profile Share’, which also includes all of your required document attachments and other relevant information about your background. This combination provides you with a powerful professional portfolio that is deployable from any device, any time.
You can create your free Kamana Profile here.
P.S – When we say your Kamana profile is free, we actually mean it. Kamana isn’t like those other “free” platforms that sell your private information to anyone with a pulse the minute you type it in. We’re able to provide this free service for nurses because we also build healthcare staffing software for agencies to manage the credentialing and onboarding process. As a bonus, you can use your Kamana profile to instantly apply and onboard with agencies that use this other side of Kamana. Without having to fill out yet another online application.