5 Fatal Nurse Practitioner Resume Flaws

I’ve reviewed a lot of nurse practitioner resumes over the past year and have been amazed at the number of ways there are to market yourself as an NP. Some nurse practitioners include a headshot on their CV while others opt for adding a few graphic design touches. Most choose a more traditional look. Crafting a professional, put together resume is essential in your nurse practitioner job search. It’s an employer’s first impression of you. What resume qualities get your job search process started off on the wrong foot?

1. Listing your number of clinical hours

Frequently, I see newer nurse practitioners state the number of clinical hours they have completed on their resume. For example, they may list ‘Pittsburgh Pediatric Clinic, 80 hours’. While you are rightly proud of the time and effort you have put into your education, 80 hours is only two weeks worth of full-time work. Citing the number of hours you have completed in each clinical rotation, or even in your NP program overall, only serves to highlight your inexperience. Remember, the person in charge of hiring you for the position may have worked ten or more years in medicine or nursing. 700 hours of patient care experience as an NP won’t leave an impression. List your clinical placements to show you have nurse practitioner experience. But, don’t draw attention to their length.

2. Including a photo

If you hope to convey professionalism to a prospective employer (and you should!), a photo of yourself wearing a suit gracing your resume header isn’t going to do the trick. It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to include a photo on your resume in a professional manner. Your smokin’ good looks, personality, and whatever other qualities you hope to convey to an employer will come across in your interview.

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3. Sending your resume as a Word or Pages document

Don’t you hate it when someone emails you a document, you open it on your own computer, and the formatting goes awry? So do employers. If you’re vying for a competitive position, this mistake could even result in your application being discarded before review. Save your resume as a pdf file. This prevents alterations in style and formatting when it is opened in a different programs. HR departments will thank you. And hire you.

4. Creating an impression of job hopping

Moving from department to department within the same hospital is common in the nursing profession. You may have worked in the same hospital system for years but on various floors. Or, you may hold a regular, full-time job and two PRN positions on the side. Be aware of how you present these experiences on your resume. If an employer skims your resume, is it possible you will be perceived as a job-hopper?

If you have held multiple positions for the same employer, consider listing them under a single heading on your resume including subheadings with descriptions of your responsibilities to give your background a more consistent vibe. Consider listing PRN jobs in a second ‘Additional Employment’ or ‘Supplemental Employment’ heading so your most significant experiences stand out. Listing a mix of concurrent positions can be confusing when an employer looks over your resume.

5. Inattention to formatting

Getting margins to line up as you create your resume can make you want to chuck your laptop out of a second story window. But, don’t give up (or take a baseball bat to your computer), stick with it. The format of your resume must be flawless. Margins and indentations must line up correctly. Maintain consistency throughout the document when using bold or italicized text. Taking time to work through formatting quandaries will be well worth the effort as a polished resume is the key to getting your foot in the door for an interview.


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3 thoughts on “5 Fatal Nurse Practitioner Resume Flaws”

  1. Thanks for the great post Erin! I know I included the clinical hours after I reviewed the sample of the new graduate resume in the Resume Rundown section of the ThriveAP Career Advising Packet. Total hours of each practicum were included on the example.

  2. Erin, this was very well written and extremely well-done. As an advanced practice recruiter, I also advise candidates to be careful in their selection of an email address. Poohbear@…. or cuddlebug@…. does not suggest a professional image.

  3. Casandra Sue Gammage

    Thanks! I had to make several corrections after reading this and now feel more confident about presenting to potential employers.

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