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Fulfill the 4 facets of a fantastic nursing resume for VA

If you’re applying for a nursing job at VA, what’s the best way to make sure your resume gets noticed? What information should you include? How do you know what’s important?

To help us answer those questions, we recruited (pun intended) Lyn Sheperd, MSN, RN, who supports White City VA Medical Center and Roseburg VA Health Care as a clinical recruiter, to give us a little insight.

So, what are the 4 things that a recruiter is looking for that you don’t want to miss? Let’s find out!


This section will be the meat and potatoes of your resume. It’s where the recruiter will glean the most information about your professional experiences, so make sure it’s well organized and, above all, detailed.

For each place of employment, Sheperd recommends that you note whether the job was full time or part time, and detail how long you worked there. If you worked at a job for less than one year, explain why. Maybe it was a short-term contract or temporary employment, but regardless, control the flow of information and get ahead of any questions a recruiter might ask.

Now, we get into the real details. For each place of employment, list out each role you’ve had as a separate bullet, adding a short sentence describing the work you did and outcomes of your work. Charge nurse, nurse manager, committee chair/member, presenter, program manager — list them all and share what you did in each role that made a difference.

Sheperd also advises you to devote some space to describing your nursing practice at each facility. Highlight any key nursing-specific topics such as ethics, research, collegiality, communications, professional memberships, professional development courses, or leadership roles at any level. You can dovetail this information with your mission statement (see below) to showcase your commitment to both your mission and ours.                


While there’s no hard and fast rule about providing references with your resume, there’s arguably no reason not to do so. In fact, providing your references up front makes the process easier for both you and the recruiter or hiring manager, Sheperd explained.

When providing references, your best bet is to provide contact information for any current and former supervisors, as they’ll be the people who have the most experience with you and how you work. Knowledgeable coworkers who can speak well about your expertise will give you a leg up, too, though Sheperd noted that being able to reach out to supervisors can weigh more heavily in your favor when hiring panels are reviewing your application.

For those recent graduates among you, ask faculty members at your university or in your training program to be your references. Much like supervisors, they’re familiar with your work ethic and your attitude, which will go a long way when it comes to showcasing you as a potential employee. 

Mission and philosophy

When providing a resume, you want to be able to showcase yourself as well as your skills. You can add this by providing a personal mission statement — a simple outline, 1 or 2 sentences long, that describes you, your professional goals, and why they matter to you.

Sheperd recommends using this space to describe your own professional mission, your philosophy of nursing, your values, or even your ethical practice. This statement is equal parts what you do and why you do it. This can give a hiring manager a much clearer picture of who you are as a professional and help them see how you’d fit in at their facility.

Awards and certifications

Use this space on your resume to help you stand out from the crowd. Awards can show a recruiter your commitment to excellence or a specialty area of focus that could be important to their recruiting efforts.

If you have any nationally recognized certifications, add them here, said Sheperd.

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