Travel nurses are in a unique position where it is acceptable – even expected – to change your job every 13 weeks, but when it comes to building a resume, it can be not easy to figure out how to organize all the different jobs. I chatted with Sarah Bricker, a human resource specialist for 10 years, and Valarie LeSeure, a career counselor for 12 years, and we came up with four key ideas for creating a top-notch travel nurse resume.
Make sure your contact information is up to date.
As a traveler, your address may change before you even have a chance to unpack the last box, so it is important to have a home base and use that address on your resume. Many travel positions (although there are more local travel positions lately) are based on your location. Many times, to be considered a traveler, you must travel 50 miles outside your home base. This is also important for certain tax benefits. If you are not quite outside the 50 miles, the hospital may be able to let you know.
And, of course, make sure your phone number is accurate. With cell phones, this is not as much of an issue, but if you ever change your phone number, be sure to update your resume.
Also, use a professional email. You do not have to purchase a fancy new email. Just create one that sounds professional if you do not already have one. My first email, back in high school, was created from a nickname. Not a name I would want to put on a professional resume. Using your first and last name is professional. If you want to make it more memorable or unique, you can add a catchy word or two, for example, YourNameTravelRN@emaildomain. Whatever you decide to go with, make sure it is something you are proud to displace on a professional resume.
Organize jobs based on travel agencies if possible.
From a human resource perspective, Sarah Bricker recommends listing your jobs by the travel agency you are working with. I know many travelers use several different agencies to ensure the best rates, which is important, but if you can organize them by just a few companies, this can help you in two ways. One, it will shorten your resume from potentially 20 pages to just a few. Two, it shows commitment and longevity. Your individual assignments may only be 13 weeks, but if you can show you have been with the same company for a while, Sarah Bicker explains, “it shows commitment, employer loyalty and most importantly resiliency since healthcare is changing so rapidly.”
In my own previous role as a hospital educator, the hospital I worked for would hire the same travel nurses over and over. Many travel nurses would work the maximum allowed time to be considered a traveler (many times, this is around a year but check with a tax specialist), then go work a travel job at another hospital and come back. This way, they never lost their status as a travel nurse and were able to come back to a familiar hospital over and over. This type of arrangement would be great for someone who prefers more consistency while still wanting to reap the benefits of being a travel nurse.
Highlight the skills that will be needed in your next position.
Look at the job description and highlight your skill set to match the description. For example, if you are applying for a cardiac unit, show all the jobs in which you worked with cardiac patients. Include your ability to read cardiac stripes and add any certifications that show your skills as a cardiac nurse. Valarie LeSeure also states, “you would want to stress adaptability, preparation, and willingness to venture into unknown territory.” You must make sure your skill sets match the job you are applying for and show your willingness to be flexible. Many of the details about the job – including what unit you will be working, whether day or night shifts, or if you are willing to float – can be negotiated in your contract, but you want to make sure you get to the negotiation table.
Keep your resume fresh by updating it on a regular basis. Time can go by fast, and if you are not actively updating your resume after each assignment, it is easy to let it fall behind, then suddenly someone asks you for a new one, and you must try and think about all the different things you have done. It is especially important to keep your references up to date. People come and go, move, and change phone numbers; you want to make sure that if someone is calling for a reference, the person they are calling can still be reached and can still attest to your skill and ability to be a nurse.
Travel nursing is a job where it is a good thing to show diversity and the ability to work in many different areas. Having a resume that is accurate, shows commitment, matches your unique skill set, and is always up to date can make you stand out and allow you to get any travel job you want.
We hope these tips for building a killer travel nurse resume were helpful. Do you have any other tips to share with fellow travel nurses? Comment them below.