The secret of a perfect travel nurse resumé

I am going to start this one with a fun fact. If you are a travel nurse, the hiring manager (99 times out of 100) will never see the resumé you created. All that care and love you put into formating it just right doesn’t matter. Added a cute picture? They won’t see it. And the reason for this is because of the VMS. The VMS is a computer system – a mostly clunky technology recruiters have to put all our data through in order for our work history details to be standardized before they get the hiring manager. The VMS can then “read” our resumés and even knock people out that don’t have the right qualification.

For example, there might be a box in the VMS that asks for your experience. If you have less than one year, the VMS could just boot you so the hiring manager does not waste their time looking at applications that don’t meet their needs. Also, it is meant to prevent bias and allows for multiple agencies to submit travel nurses to the same job and for everyone to look the same no matter where they are coming from.

This could be a good thing in general. It allows you to work with any agency and have access to a lot more jobs without the agency having to hire a huge sales team to call every hospital. It standardized pay a bit. But it’s not really cutting edge. A lot of industries have this technology. But healthcare (surprise, surprise) is behind. Our VMSs are known to be a really bad user experience for our recruiters to work with. Most of the VMSs in our industry are a slow and tedious technology that really should be much better, faster and easier with all the tools that are out there today. (Just like our documentation – most of those systems are horrible to work with. Can I get an amen?)

And one more important thing. Each of the VMSs are different. There are dozens out there and your recruiter has to input your information over and over again into a bunch of different outdated technologies every time you apply to a job. They all have their own logins, their own fields and standardizations, and their own ways of communicating back to the recruiters about updates to your submittal. VMSs don’t talk to each other and they don’t make it easy for anything to be automatic. They are manual. So recruiters (or account managers) spend a lot of their day just doing data entry. Or one thing that is trending is that companies are outsourcing this to cheaper labor in the Philippines.

Guess what people in the Philippines don’t know that well. Travel nurse lingo. So it DOES serve you to write great keywords and summaries and clear dates and experience on your resumé so when these recruiters or outsourced workers are copy and pasting your data into these VMSs… you look good! Hiring managers and these VMS computers are looking for certain keywords as they are quickly scanning resumés. Make it easy for them to pick you by writing a kick-ass resumé for anyone to copy and paste from and don’t count on your recruiter to make you look awesome. This is how you take control for yourself.

Travel nurse agencies won’t always accept a resumé

Some agencies do not even want your resumé. They will have you fill out a profile in their system instead. Some recruiters will take your resumé and fill in as much of the profile for you as they can and have you just fill in the blanks (can we get a thank you for the recruiters who have empathy for the pain of onboarding to companies. Companies sure don’t make it easy to sign up with them). It’s pretty much a copy and paste game and having a profile instead of the resumé makes it easier for the recruiters to submit you to jobs. It standardizes the information for them, but it makes the friction of onboarding with that company higher than simply handing in a premade resumé. But the rules stay the same, pay attention to what you write in the profile and treat it as if the hiring manager will look at it word for word.

Kamana, Bluepipes, and Nurse Backpack

There are some truly great innovators out there right now to help make this part of the travel nurse life easier. They are building amazing, easy to use technology for us to have a “wallet” where we can upload all the details a company would need and then just with a click of a button share it with agencies. It will even tell travel nurses when things are going to expire and it’s all saved to the cloud with privacy security. This is SO much better than the physical folders I would carry around when I started.

The problem? Most agency leaders are stuck in a scarcity mindset. They think if they say yes to these companies (if they take the same skills checklists and paperwork as their competition), we travelers will be more likely to leave them for someone else. They want the friction.

Many travel nurse agency leaders want the friction that the onboarding gives us

And while they may be a little accurate that we do think twice about starting over because of the headache of paperwork, the way tech is moving in this industry they won’t be accurate for much longer. Do they think that paperwork is the thing that will keep us loyal forever? Paperwork? They want to make things harder on travel nurses so we will stay?

I would encourage companies reading this to focus on the great experience you can provide and the relationship to try to gain our loyalty. We leave because we didn’t bond with the recruiter, or the recruiter stopped following up, or we got underpaid or expectations were not clearly laid out, or because you just didn’t have the job.

If I love my recruiter and you have the job and you pay fair- I’m not leaving you just because someone else takes the same skills checklist. But on the flip side, if you take the same skills checklist, others might COME to you. Are you really providing a good service to travel nurses? If you are, by all means, embrace this movement.

What goes on a travel nurse resumé:

  • Your name
  • Your email and phone number
  • Your specialty (RN, LPN, CNA, etc)
  • Years of experience (travel nurses need 2 years of experience to travel and one in the specialty you will be traveling in)
  • Years of experience as a travel nurse
  • A three-sentence summary that makes you look like the best thing since chocolate cake (use keywords here)
  • Licensure: States, license number, expiration date, and if it’s a compact
  • Certifications: Like PALS, NIHSS, ACLS, CCRN, etc
  • Education: Degree type, year of graduation, and school name
  • Work History: Dates, title (RN), location, department, patient ratio, bed size, employment type (travel, full time, pen)
  • Electronic Health Record Systems that you have experience on like EPIC or Meditech
  • At least two references that are from management

When writing a travel nurse summary…

Keywords matter! A keyword means something that a computer can pick up as a “yeah this travel nurse is good and has the skills we need.” Use words and skills that are common.
Think about “what would someone program inot a computer to scan and find so I can be picked out of a bunch.” Give yourself tons of credit for the amazing work you do. No humble bragging on resumés, only full bragging allowed.

You can also include:

  • Honors or awards you’ve gotten
  • If you are part of any organizations
  • Explanations if you have long gaps in employment
  • CEUs completed

Typos and grammar

I’m going to say this once more. Recruiters or outsourced workers from the Philippines many times copy and paste whatever you have written straight into the VMS. The VMS is what the hiring manager will see. If you want a typo or grammar error to be copy and pasted over, by all means, write sloppy.

I’ll raise my hand, I almost always find typos and grammar errors in my blogs or Facebook posts no matter how many times I re-read them. I’m pretty known for my brain just skipping over words! But on my resumé, I would have a second eye look it over. I can not tell you the number of summaries I’ve seen written on nurse applications and profiles that are seriously like WTF. lower case at the start of the sentence. Half sentences. Run-on sentences. Blank. Don’t forget you are a professional and you want to look good. Land that job, boo!

Cheers to knowing the truth of the travel nurse resumé,

xo Laura

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Typically 0-3 months before you are ready to start your next assignment is best. A short quiz will give us a picture of who you are, and what you are looking for. After the quiz we’ll have everything we need to match you with the perfect recruirer for your travel goals
If you know where you want to go and you’re ready to travel, Instant Matching is perfect for you. You can browse the open jobs from many of our company partners on the Nomadicare’s anti bait-and-switch job board. When you see one that catches your eye, the goal is to apply asap. Jobs are closing faster than ever with all the craziness this year so speed is our best friend.
We highly recommended being ready! Having all of your documents and being super responsive are key. Speed is the biggest factor in getting the job you want. We recommend using a free service like Kamana, which you can share your online resume, credentials, and licenses with a single link to any of our vetted recruiters when requesting an interview.
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