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Nursing Resume -
Interview With Beverly Hansen OMalley

Nursing Resume - An Introduction to Beverly Hansen OMalley

If you are interested in a Nursing Resume, particularly in Canada, Beverly Hansen OMalley, MAM (Health), RN, BSN, is an expert Canadian Nurse you need to hear. As part of her experience as an registered nurse in the Canadian health care system Beverly has served in general duty, research, and administration. She also has many years of experience as a nurse educator teaching nursing curriculum in both the public and private sectors. Over the years she has taught students from diverse backgrounds including different cultural and socio-economic groups and internationally educated nurses. She is also the creator of Registered Nurse Canada. To view Beverly's qualifications to speak to Nursing Resume issues, visit her Curriculum Vitae.

In the interview that follows, Beverly has taken the time to address some of the issues she believes are important to nursing resumes. You will also find her advice helpful for a nursing student resume.

Nursing Resume - The Interview

Bev, thank you for taking the time to work on this interview by email. The first thing I would like to ask is what you would consider a "red flag" on a resume, and why you would consider it a "mis-fit"?

  • "I am a hard worker"  - definitely a red  flag for me.  Working hard is a given. I  want a professional, knowledgeable and skilled nurse  who can support the patient and the family and work collaboratively with physicians and other health care professionals.  The resume should highlight those capabilities.

Nursing Resume - Within The Canadian System

In some of our exchanges, we discussed the fact that your website focuses on international nursing applicants in Canada. You specifically stated some of the obvious things like spelling and grammar (giving insight into one's command of the English language as used in Canada), relevant experience, documenting evidence of one's claims, along with other sets of issues one would typically require to even consider a resume.

When considering that a major focus of your website is discussing some of the cultural values and structural elements of the Canadian Health Care System, give me an idea of some of the things you are looking for on a resume?

  • Leadership skills are essential, especially as they relate to cultural gender roles and the role of the nurse as a servant in other countries.  This is NOT the case in Canada.  Anything on the resume that shows leadership  and independent decision making should be highlighted. The Canadian RN must be able to work autonomously without direction, nobody is telling them what to do and there are no physicians employed in hospitals (for the most part).
  • Ethics - A candidate needs to show me anything they can highlight on their resume that shows courses or knowledge of ethics.  My Nursing Ethics Page gives considerable detail of what I want to see.
  • Team work and collaborative practice - These are highly valued and necessary here. What experience do they have working on a team with physicians and other health care providers such as physical therapists, pharmacists, other nurses etc.?  Canadian health care has worked tirelessly to dismantle the hierarchy so that people work in a team--this is a new concept to nurses from other countries where hierarchy and class are still endemic in society.
  • Technical skills - Things to highlight would include physical assessment skills.  Nurses here must be able to do chest assessments, peripheral pulses, neurological assessments and work equipment such as doppler for peripheral pulses, IV pumps - anybody with an IV for fluid balance purposes will have an IV pump, saline locks, central lines.  Mastery of these skills is essential and needs to be identified on a resume.

Nursing Resume - The Most Important Elements

Beverly, with the wealth of experience you bring, you must have some observations about the most important things to include in a resume. What are the three most important elements you seek?

  • Contact information - Put an email address in there show that you are comfortable with computers.  If you are not reachable within the first 2 tries your resume will probably go to the bottom of the pile.
  • Experience - Do you have any experience that is relevant to what I am looking for?  Entry level nurses will not have had experience yet and that is OK.  You will still get hired in nursing, but the employer wants to have an idea of how much orientation and support will be necessary. 
  • General tone,  appearance and flavour - Is the language professional and does it reflect what would be expected of a university graduate in Canada? The purpose of the resume is to secure a job interview.  It is not likely that the person making that decision will spend more than a few minutes scanning your resume, so it is important that it looks okay and has no major flaws.  More detail about what is on there will likely be explored at the job interview.

Nursing Resume - Entry Level or Nursing Student Resume

You mentioned the importance of experience, yet also mentioned that an entry level nurse may still get hired in Canada without experience. What kinds of things would you be looking for on an entry level resume or a nursing student resume?

  • Basic entry level competencies - Take a look at the basic entry level competencies for registered nurses in Canada. Anything they can do to highlight these would be good on a resume.

Nursing Resume - OR Nursing Curriculum Vitae

We are discussing resumes in this interview. Yet I noticed you use a Curriculum Vitae. Could you help my readers understand what you expect them to submit, and why you use a CV for yourself?

  • Pretty much the same here as in the US.  A resume would be expected for a nurse.  I am an Academic so I use a  CV, also on my website I am not applying for a job so the CV is  the relevant format.

Nursing Resume - Format Concerns

Here, certain professions are biased against some resume formats, such as the functional resume, in favor of a strict chronological format, wherein every section and subsection must be in a strict reverse chronological format.  Accounting, banking and some legal are examples of this. 

  • How would you view a resume that is more focused on skills (functional format) as opposed to a “Where I’ve been and when I was there” (chronological) motif? 
  • How open are you to some flexibility in allowing an applicant to presenting themselves in the best light in reference to document structure?
  • YES the format is not as important as the information.  By the time someone applies for a job they have already been scrutinized by the regulatory nursing body and their education background has been checked and found to be "equivalent".  I am not doing that again!  I think that a functional format would be more suitable.

Is there a format/structure that you would not consider (not addressing really exotic formats, such as a newspaper format)?  What about photos? Videos? Electronic vs. paper submissions?  Typically, US firms frown on photos, but many want electronic submissions vs. paper for KW scanning purposes.

  • Standard resume paper format only.  the Canadian health care system is extremely conservative.  Give them what they are used to.

Nursing Resume - Objective Statement/Professional Qualifications Summary

Formal Objective Statement:  Another trend in resumes here is the move away from the classical objective statement in favor of a well constructed professional summary/qualifications summary statement.

  • How would you respond to a resume that had a very clear professional summary statement that summarized the person’s knowledge sets, skills and abilities in the form of a set of claims at the beginning of the document if very clear evidence of those claims was presented in the rest of the document?
  • I like the summary or formal objective statement.  It gives me an overview and if it is is well written I am also getting information about English capability - this is really important for immigrants to understand.  Everything they do and say is telling the employer something about their English capability even their resume! 
  • I realize that the formal objective statement is becoming passe BUT for international graduates I think it is very important, not only for the employer but also for the applicant.  It forces the applicant  to think about what their professional goals are beyond just "getting a job".  Employers like nurses who are self directed and goal oriented and are interested in the profession, not just interested in "getting a job".

Nursing Resume - Professional Development

Professional development:  Do you prefer the evidence of professional development to be addressed:

  • Formally in the education section along with College/University/Grad school
  • NO
  • Formally in a separate professional development section?
  • YES this is the way to go for a Nursing resume and here is the reason why.  Practice standards state that the RN must keep up to date so this is considered professional development.  Upgrading to a degree would be education.  This tells the employer how much time and effort you have put into your own professional development.  If you put it in the section of employment history and experience then it looks like it was the employer's idea not yours.

Nursing Resume - Ingenuity & Originality

I know that you viewed lots of resumes in your capacity as a Nursing Administrator in long term care. How important was it to you that applicants use a bit of their own ingenuity and originality in the document they submit to you?

  • I can tell a "cookie cutter" resume from a mile away and I have often received the exact same resume from different students who graduated from the same school but the names were different.  This usually happens with unlicensed personnel like nursing assistants.

Nursing Resume - Claims & Evidence

One of the themes of is the necessity for applicants to think about two major parts of the resume - claims and evidence. Could you talk about the sorts of concerns you would have about claims made on a resume?

  • Be prepared to support anything that you have on your resume.  If you say you have good communication skills then in an interview I will ask you about how you might meet communication challenges for the elderly or for the population of the unit I am considering to hire you for.  OR I might ask what communication courses you took and how you use your communication skills therapeutically.

Final Thoughts

Beverly, you have given some outstanding guidance for nurses who may want to work in your industry. Do you have any final thoughts you would like to leave with my readers?

  • Your nursing resume is your first contact with your future employer. Never underestimate the importance of first impressions, because that is what you resume does. It establishes the first impression with your employer. If they like what they see then a face to face visit is the next step and you are going to be contacted for a job interview.
  • If you want your employer to think that you are a professional then provide them with a nursing resume that shows that you are one!

Check Beverly out. You will find her website, to be a detailed guide to the Registered Nursing segment of the Canadian Health Care System.

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