How to Polish Your Operating Room Nurse Resume
By the Nursezone Staff
Nursing in high-stress environments such as the emergency room, critical care unit, and operating room requires a specific skill set and mindset. To enter these fields, you need a polished nursing resume that documents the right skills and work experience to prove you can handle the job.
But what’s the resume’s duty? If you think it’s a piece of paper that gets you a job, you’re thinking about a resume the wrong way. The objective is to be patient and land an interview first. The interview is where you can let your personality shine, and where employers will seriously consider you above other candidates. It’s a door opener, not a deal closer.
That’s what we’ll be focusing on in this article - landing you the interview, so you can showcase your “wow factor” in person and receive the offer you’ve been dreaming of.
First Things First: Why You Need a Strong Resume
The job outlook for registered nurses is increasingly bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims a 15% job growth from 2016-2026. With a percentage that high, why bother with a resume, right? There will be jobs for everybody. Heck, hiring managers will be sprouting from trees, throwing you signing bonuses and contracts!
Unfortunately, 15% is a deceptive number.
High job growth is phenomenal, but where there’s demand, supply will quickly flood in. This means every available position will have 15% more applicants, and your resume is going to need to stick out 15% more than it does now.
Skills or Keywords?
You might think that if you fill your resume with the skills necessary to be a perioperative nurse, hiring managers will see that you’re qualified and set up an interview. Again, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Having the right skill sets listed in your resume is important, but combining them with the keywords and phrases hiring managers are looking for is even better. There are two things to remember when making your resume.
Thing one: Every application coming in will have the necessary skills to be a perioperative nurse. Okay, not every application. But every serious applicant will have completed a sufficient level of education with a nursing degree, experience working in an operating room or a similar high-stress environment, and the skills necessary to perform well at the job. You have to rise above the crowd by highlighting perioperative-specific skill sets.
Thing two: Many nursing resumes will be submitted online with pertinent information filled out on the site itself. The reason employers do this is to utilize an applicant tracking system (ATS). ATSs are programmed to rank order resumes by the number of keywords or phrases that match the employer’s preferences. This could be keywords like “Bachelor of Science in Nursing” to separate an ADN from a BSN, who has gone through the additional schooling. To figure out what keywords an employer is looking for, check with the job posting. Often this will clue you into what they’re looking for.
Stand Out Through Accomplishments
Because most applicants will have similar skill sets, try to stand out with any accomplishments you’ve gained from nursing school or past work experience. These could be awards, community service hours, or extra courses you attended to improve your nursing skills.
Avoid Silly Mistakes
Try stepping into the shoes of a hiring manager. They have to scan through seventy resumes in order to find two qualified nurses for their hospital. It’s time-consuming and difficult, and if there’s any reason why an applicant can be discarded, they’re going to take that opportunity.
Avoid these costly mistakes when building out your resume:
A typical resume will follow some structure: Your Information, Professional Summary, Core Qualifications, Work Experience, Education. Try to keep all this information contained to less than 1 ½ pages. Brevity is key, even when it comes to formatting.
Try not to double-down on keywords. If you mention as one of your work experience bullet points “maintain sterile environment…” then on your core qualifications put “sterilization techniques.” Now you’ve emphasized a specific skill set required of perioperative nursing and used two different possible keywords. You want variation, not redundancies.
Utilize White Space
Don’t clog up your resume for the sake of making it shorter. Let your skills and qualifications breathe by allowing white space on your resume. When listing core qualifications, for example, keep each bullet point less than five words. This will create an open space in the middle of the page that will be pleasant to look at.
Spelling and Grammar
Everybody makes mistakes when it comes to spelling and grammar, but a resume is not the time to slip up. If possible, send your resume to friends and family who can help look for any mistakes.
While slip-ups are human, first impressions are important. You don’t want the first thing a hiring manager to see is that you’re looking for a job in the RO.
Submitting Your OR Nurse Resume
Perioperative nurses work in intense situations. Constant communication and diligence are needed to perform surgery at a high level, and surgeons rely on their team to operate successfully and ensure patient safety. To join this team and build your career, you need to perfect your operating room nurse resume.
Remember, when crafting the perfect resume, the objective is not to get hired. Your main focus is demonstrating confidence in the operating room and having the skill sets required that demand an interview.
BLS. Registered Nurses. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
Workable. Overview of Applicant Tracking System. https://www.workable.com/guide/what-is-an-applicant-tracking-system