How to Write a Nursing Resume Summary

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Written by Ayana Dunn, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A man in blue scrubs writes his nursing resume summary.

A compelling nursing resume summary can quickly set you apart from other applicants. It’s one of the first aspects of your resume your future employer will see, so it’s important for you to be strategic about how you draft it. Below are some tips on how to write a professional summary for a nursing resume and examples that demonstrate this advice in action.

What Is a Resume Summary?

A resume summary is a short paragraph that introduces you to the hiring manager or recruiter. It’s a brief description of what you have to offer your future employer and can be found at the top of your resume, beneath your name and contact information.

These summaries are similar to resume objectives, in that they are both short statements. However, resume objectives focus on how the job would fulfill your career goals, while resume summaries generally share a broader explanation of your work history and accomplishments.

Think of your resume summary as a short version of your cover letter. Both serve as an introduction to the hiring team and are an opportunity to describe yourself as a whole person, not just a list of facts.

What to Include in a Resume Summary: 5 Tips

1. Focus on Soft Skills

Your professional summary for a nursing resume highlights your positive qualities as a person. Including your soft skills can pique your employer’s interest and encourage them to read your cover letter after scanning your resume. Soft skills contribute to a person’s ability to interact with others harmoniously and effectively. They help a hiring manager determine whether you’d be a good addition to their team.

Examples of soft skills include:

  • Adaptability
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Clear communication
  • Tact

2. Share How You’ll Be an Asset

A nursing resume summary is like your elevator pitch. In other words, it’s a short description of yourself through which you could potentially form a professional connection. Try to include details that set you apart. Consider the traits that make a quality nurse — like integrity, advocacy, and critical thinking — and include those that fit you best.

What skills set you apart? Which piece of numerical information are you most proud of? How many years of experience do you have? Have you ever won a Daisy award? Elevator pitches are concise, so use this chance to sell yourself in just a few sentences.

3. Use Keywords From the Job Description

In job postings, you’ll find key words and phrases that indicate the skills that the hiring team is seeking. Try to use these words in your summary. This is a clear way to show you’ve got what they’re looking for.

In fact, if a role has a large number of applicants, some companies use electronic systems to scan resumes for keywords and skills. This allows hiring managers to narrow down their applicant list before reviewing resumes. This makes keywords an essential part of a strong resume.

4. Include Significant Achievements

One of the purposes of your resume is to show the quantifiable aspects of your experience, such as your patient loads and the amount of times you’ve successfully completed a relevant procedure. It’s a good idea to include numbers in your summary if applicable, like your years of experience or the amount of times you’ve been recognized with awards. Choose a piece of numerical information that you’re especially proud of. If something makes you stand out, why save it for later?

5. Keep It Short

Most resume summaries are up to four sentences long. If that’s not enough for everything you want to include, consider using bullet points to break up the information so that it’s easier to scan. Either way, remember this is a preview to your resume and cover letter. You’ll have opportunities to add more details later in your resume.

Common Mistakes in a Nursing Resume Summary

Knowing what not to do when writing a nursing summary is equally important as knowing what to include. Below are some tips to keep in mind.

Too Lengthy

The length of this part of your resume is key. It should be a short paragraph, with three or four lines of text at the most. Your employer will skim this information within seconds, so prioritize concise and impactful words over length.

Generic Descriptions

All resume summaries will have some similarities, but it’s still important to amplify your uniqueness. Candidates who plan to simply copy and paste an example they find online may as well not include a nursing summary at all.

Too Many Keywords

Including keywords from the job description is helpful, but overuse can diminish the intended effect. If you cram keywords, you risk sounding unnatural or making the reader feel as if they’re not getting a genuine idea of who you are.

How Do You Summarize Nursing Experience?

Selling yourself in a few sentences sounds daunting, but it can be done! These examples can show you how to use the tips described above.

Example 1: Conscientious, compassionate RN with 16 years of inpatient psychiatric experience and SANE certification. Eight years spent working with underserved communities, which aids my ability to handle various crises with empathy and clarity.

Example 2: Adaptable public health nurse with over 20 years of experience treating patients in 11 countries across the world. Active member of Nurses Without Borders, spending each summer caring for at-risk communities primarily in South Asia. Conversational understanding of Spanish, Urdu, and Hindi.

Example 3: Nurse practitioner with 8 years of experience in occupational health. Has worked in a variety of settings, such as in banks, hospitals, and universities. Won the Daisy Award for nursing excellence for five years in a row, seeking to continue that streak at Fountain Hospital.

Your Nursing Resume Summary Can Take You Places

Now that you know how to write a nursing summary for a resume, you can take the next step towards the job you’ve been wanting. When you’re confident in what you’ve got, check out the latest jobs posted on IntelyCare today.