Your Resume - Structure

From the Ground Up - a Resume's Framework

Your Resume - Structure<The following categories can be used as a guideline for organizing the information you'll want to include if you are creating your own resume. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to include, modify, or eliminate some of the categories.

Remember, resume writing is not absolute - some degree of creativity speaks for who you are. But moving too far outside the standard can be dangerous if you aren't able to "pull it off" properly.

Demographic Data

At the top of the resume should be your name, your mailing address, your phone number (including area code) where you can be reached, and your e-mail address.

The name you use should be the name you use in your personal and business life (nicknames should be avoided). Select your phone number carefully. Unless you're comfortable with your current employer knowing of your employment search efforts - use your home phone number and allow callers to leave messages.

If you're on a temporary assignment as a travel nurse, or if you have a campus address, also include a permanent address. Some employers keep resumes "on file" and you may want them to be able to find you later.

Objective or Profile

Some employers like objective statements; others have no use for them. Properly written, though, the objective can be one of the most important parts of your resume. It informs potential employers that you are moving in a certain direction, relays your work preferences), and serves as a focal point from which to review and analyze your resume.

Additionally, your objective statement offers yet another opportunity to use your most important keywords - and that can increase your electronic "exposure" to employers performing resume database searches. If you are considering more than one professional goal, you should consider developing more than one resume, each presenting a different objective.

The profile on the other hand, is an alternative to an objective statement. It gives you the opportunity to present your strengths at the very beginning of the resume, and summarizes your key accomplishments in measurable terms. Keep in mind that when you're composing the major areas of your resume, it's important to emphasize your abilities and accomplishments much more than past duties. You may also want to indicate how well you performed. This will help infuse personal qualities such as character and personality into your resume.

Education and Credentials

Your educational preparation must be included somewhere on your resume. Even if you have not graduated or received a degree, the years spent in study and the courses you have taken are valuable educational experience that may qualify you for a particular job.

Where you place this category on your resume can depend on several factors. If you're are a recent college grad with little work experience, the "Education" should come early on your resume page. If it has been several years since you were in school, your education is less important than your work experience and it can be placed further down the page.

Include your degree designation (A.S., B.S., B.A., etc.), major, institution(s) attended, date of graduation, minors or concentrations, and any special workshops, seminars, related coursework or senior projects. A G.P.A. of higher than a 3.0 (either overall G.P.A. or G.P.A. in major) can also be noted here.

For most nurses, this is a convenient category in which to identify your province/country of licensure and any professional affiliations you have. In general, any career development activity can also be included in this area, so be certain to list the continuing education courses and conferences that relate to the position you are seeking.

Work Experience

Include all significant work experience in reverse chronological order. You should include:

 The title or a skill-based description of your role

 The name of the organization

 The location of work (town, state)

 The dates of employ - month & year are sufficient.

Describe your work responsibilities in sentences or bullets, prefaced with action words to communicate your skills. Detail your responsibilities and achievements using keywords.

Even with limited paid work experience, students can have developed a repertoire of skills through volunteer, internship, and practicum or student teaching work experiences. It's important to include this information on your resume so that a prospective employer appreciates the skills you'll bring to the workplace. You may also want to add that work was performed to earn a certain percent of college expenses. Example: Earned 75% of college expenses through the following part-time jobs.

Additional Information

This category is useful for displaying information that doesn't fit in any other category. Although Interests, Computer Knowledge, and Activities can be separate categories, especially if they are very strong, they can be listed here as well. Languages spoken, or any extra, relevant bit of information can be placed here as well.

Interests: The professional resume is an account of your employment record, skills, and career accomplishments, not what you enjoy doing in your off hours. Hobbies and interests should never take up valuable space that could be used for important career information. Only include this if your resume is short and looks skimpy, or if your hobbies in some way make you a better candidate for the job.

Computer Knowledge: If using computers is a necessary skill for the position you are seeking (and that's becoming more often the case in nursing), be sure to highlight your knowledge in this section.

Activities, Honours,and Leadership are also important categories to include. If the activities involved work responsibility, note it in some detail. The employer is interested in the skills you have developed whether through volunteer or paid experiences. If you were elected to offices or committees, mention it. Recognition and demonstration of leadership roles are valuable.


There is no need to state on your resume, "References furnished upon request." This is a given, and is a redundant use of valuable resume space.

Still, there are a couple of things to keep in mind about references. Be sure to ask before you offer the names of individuals from whom you would like to have references. Not only is this common courtesy, but you'll avoid any unpleasant surprises later if you do receive a less-than-glowing response.

Before your interview, you'll want to prepare a separate list of references, usually prefaced "the following individuals have generously consented to provide references:" Include at least three names, along with their title, employer, address, business and home telephone number.

Make Your Resume Unique

Feel free to develop your own categories to highlight your special relevant experiences and skills. It is often useful to separate your related or professional experiences from your other work experience by creating separate categories for these content areas. In this way, you can call more attention to your relevant skills by putting them in categories closer to the top of the resume so they are read first.

Here are some examples:

Student Teaching Experience Related Experience
Community Volunteer Work Related Courses
Professional Affiliations Workshops & Conferences
Technical Skills Certificates
Special Skills Travel
Computer Skills Leadership
Language Proficiencies Military Experience

Now, it's your turn. A successful resume takes time and thought. So make the effort, and reap the rewards that a strong resume can bring to your career.

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