I will be the first to admit that I am no expert when it comes to travel nursing. But I do know a thing or two about résumés, personal branding, and professional development. In this article we’re merging these topics to share how to optimize your travel nurse resume.
The Travel Nurse Expert: Sarah
Fortunately, I’ve had the pleasure to become friends with an amazing travel nurse (and mentor to other travel nurses!) – Sarah Gaines.
If you’re not familiar, Sarah Gaines is known in the nursing community as The Six Figure Travel Nurse. She’s the creator of the Travel Nurse Course, and honestly, she’s the travel nurse bestie you always wanted.
After she started travel nursing, she found herself making more money, working shifts of her choosing, and living in the cities she wanted. And from there, she continued finding ways to improve her work flow — and the balance between her time spent in scrubs and her time spent in pajamas.
Sarah joined me in episode 7 of the Nurse Becoming podcast. In that episode, she shared about the perks of travel nursing, what it takes to do well as a travel nurse, and what the specialty can offer that clinical nursing might not.
Now, chances are if you’re reading this post, you already know how awesome travel nursing is, right? How it can be an opportunity for freedom and also a stepping stone for career advancement.
What Sarah and I didn’t have time for in that episode was to go through exactly what matters when writing a travel nurse resume. Sarah has learned over the years that documenting travel nurse experience on a resume is in fact different than your average resume.
In this post, we are going to break down two common scenarios. How to document travel nursing experience on your resume when:
- You intend to keep traveling, and
- You are done traveling and looking for a permanent position
Before we get into those scenarios, let’s talk about the travel nursing experience for a minute.
Why Travel Nursing is Awesome (& Different)!
Sarah may be a bit biased, but after 20+ travel nurse contracts and earning six figures every year, I can’t say I blame her! Becoming a travel nurse comes with unique opportunities. Travel nurses are often paid more than staff nurses, and the work comes with unique leverage points, like transferable skills. Don’t forget, more freedom of choice (more vacations, anyone?).
With the option to try out different specialities until you find your fit, the possibility of burnout decreases. There is also the huge perk of being able to work less and travel more.
And hey, are you reading this and wanting to get into travel nursing? Or currently traveling and wanting to earn more as a travel nurse? I highly recommend attending one of Sarah’s upcoming free masterclasses!
Sarah said ultimately the first step in landing a travel position is to get your resume in order. So that’s where we come in!
Let’s start with the basics.
Why Your Travel Nurse Résumé Matters
Resumes are a hiring manager or recruiter’s first impression of you, your work, and what you might be able to bring to their organization or unit.
You wouldn’t show up to a job interview with a coffee stain on your shirt and no idea of the job requirements, would you? Of course not! Well you shouldn’t apply to a job with an outdated, disorganized resume either!
The purpose of resumes are to showcase your achievements and aptitude. It’s also your opportunity to give an overview of your story before someone meets you in person.
With travel nursing, sometimes there’s no formal interview, so your resume itself holds more weight. Without the opportunity for a face-to-face or phone interview, how do you truly sell yourself and your work to a potential employer?
It’s time to break down exactly how to add travel nursing to your resume. As a reminder, we’ll cover two scenarios.
Scenario 1: How to include travel nursing experience on your resume when you intend to keep traveling
One of the main differences in a traditional résumé and one written for a travel nurse is the layout. Sarah recommends, and I agree, that travel nurse résumés include tables as a way to provide a concise snapshot of your previous experience and assignments.
Travel nurse recruiters are often looking for very specific experience metrics, and including the right information can increase your chances of getting an interview.
It’s also not unheard of to have NO interview! Sometimes your résumé can be enough to get the assignment on the spot.
Here are some essential pieces of information to include in your travel nurse résumé:
- Your availability date
- The census of your previous assignment
- Your charge nurse experience
- Your patient-nurse ratio of your previous assignment
- References who can speak to your skills
Here are some pieces of information that you can leave out:
- Your GPA
- Committee work
- Volunteer experience
- Any résumé “fluffers” or extras
Now, if you are a travel nurse and you’re wanting to land that next assignment, you probably need to get your résumé to your recruiter ASAP.
Sarah and I have put our brains together to create a very specific travel nurse resume template and training that will save you some serious time and frustration! Learn more about the Ultimate Travel Nurse Résumé Kit here!
Scenario 2: How to include your travel nurse experience on your resume when you are looking for a permanent position
As mentioned before, some nurses pursue travel nursing as a way to find their preferred speciality or to afford graduate school. For those nurses, traveling isn’t forever, and writing a resume that leverages a travel nurse’s unique experiences and connections is vital.
If you’ve been traveling for a bit and are looking to land a permanent position, keep these two important tips in mind.
1. Keep it short. Your experience is likely more varied than a nurse who has been in just a couple different clinical positions. Listing all the small assignments you’ve taken will probably make your resume a bit too long. Instead, condense the information into broader headings, like “emergency experience” and “pediatric experience.” Or, choose to omit the details of the travel assignments.
Here are a couple of real life examples, to show you different ways to organize your travel nursing resume.
Above is an example of how to condense all your travel nursing experience into one section of your resume, focusing on your skill set.
Alternatively, the example above lists the individual contracts and omits the clinical details other than the department.
2. Tell the recruiter why you’re the best. Highlight any experience that will make you a strong permanent candidate, and include things like unique work experiences as well as any specific or transferable skills. Recruiters often look for specialized experience as well as adaptability, and travel nursing offers both.
As you can see, there’s no right or wrong way to document your experience, regardless of where you are in your career.
But it is important to consider your unique history and the path you are going down. Getting clarity on this will help you put your passions on paper and advocate for your next opportunity!
And if you’re looking for some plug and play options for your résumé, here are some great options I’ve created for you:
- Are you a current travel nurse? Check out The Ultimate Travel Nurse Résumé Kit, my collaborative product with Sarah Gaines
- Looking for a permanent position? Check out my Nurse Résumé Template Bundle