“Resume and CV Writing Commandments : Do’s and Don’ts”

By Paul Villaire ACNP-BC,  FNP-BC

Are you looking for a new NP job or making a specialty change? Are you a new grad trying to land your first job? Well, whether you are tuning up an existing resume or creating your first one, here are some tips to get you started and on the right track. Writing a great Resume/CV will give you an edge over other applicants competing for the same position. You want to highlight your education, career progression, professional skills and significant experiences. Your CV/Resume will often times be the first impression that potential employers, hiring managers, and recruiters will have of you, make it count. First off, let’s clarify the difference between a Resume and CV, and summarize the “Cover Letter”.

The cover letter is a one page document and should address the hiring manager or recruiter by name if possible. Some experts recommend not addressing anyone vs. “To Whom it may concern” etc….

Stand out from the crowd. Keep the cover letter short and don’t repeat the resume, write something unique and highlight why you are the best candidate. Plug-in the exact phrases from the job description, applicant tracking systems will look for those. Include your strongest material at the top and don’t use old buzzwords that everyone else is using. Again keep it short, how short? Two to three paragraphs and finish your cover letter strong and with conviction.

A CV is a detailed listing of the whole career of the applicant which should be in chronological order, whereas a resume’s content can be adjusted and tailored to best fit the job in which you are applying.

The biggest difference between a resume and a CV is that a CV is intended to be a comprehensive record of your career history and a resume is a brief, targeted list of skills, competencies, and achievements.

Additional differences pertain to the length, the purpose and the design/layout. A resume is a brief summary, condensed into one or two pages. CV’s extend well beyond two pages. The resume should be customized to each position whereas the CV will remain standardized and any changes should be placed in the cover letter.


Ensure to include the correct contact information, that it is accurate, professional, and that your credentials are included behind you name.

Write a strong objective statement which is specific to the position and job description you are applying for. Again do not include generic buzz words or jargon that are commonly used. Include specifics and use quantifiable statements.

Make sure your professional experience section is the highlight of your resume. This is where you have the opportunity to tell the narrative of your Nurse Practitioner career. You want to list jobs in reverse chronological order with the most recent at the top. When listing the places you’ve worked, give a description of the organization, practice, and specialty you worked in. Detail the number and the types of patients you saw per day and include any additional contributions in addition to direct patient care. Did you participate in process improvement or quality assurance, develop practice guidelines? How much revenue generated for the practice?

In your skills and certification section, detail all your accreditations and expiration dates, procedures you are competent in, and relevant computer skills including charting systems.

Have an accurate education section that includes all professional degrees you’ve earned, with the institution’s name, city and state, and the dates you attended. For degrees in progress, include your projected completion date.


Don’t forget to do a spell check and look for grammatical errors. Hiring managers and recruiters will pick up on mistakes and conclude that you do not care, cannot write and will pass you by, and move on quickly to the next candidate.

Don’t be vague in your accomplishments and skills, be specific and use action verbs and quantifiable information. Employers need to know, don’t make them guess. An example would be “increased practice revenue by x amount while decreasing expenses by y amount, or increased patient compliance by x and reduced hospital readmission rates by y”.

Don’t try to use a generic one size fits all resume, tailor each resume to the specific employer if possible. This may not apply if you are uploading your resume to national jobs search websites.

Don’t highlight duties, instead focus on your accomplishments! Do not feel compelled to fit everything into one page, especially if you have more to highlight, is relevant and adds value. On the other hand do not feel you have fill two pages with fluff just because someone told you that 2 pages is a must. In general One to two pages should suffice.

Don’t forget to include jobs that may highlight soft skills that would be applicable and enhance your value. For example if while you were in school and held jobs that were customer service specific, they may be attractive to potential employers. Having great clinical skills is a must, but if your customer service skills are horrible that can ruin a practice reputation quickly.

Don’t write a weak summary, employers will breeze through a lot of your resume, so it is imperative to have a strong summary that will be sure to leave a positive impression, grab them and lead to an interview.

Finally your Cover Letter, CV, and Resume need to be formatted so that the reader can easily and systematically scan, read and find the information they need. Make sure it is not too visually busy or challenging with different fonts and colors. Keep it clean and simple.

Get friends, colleagues to proofread them for you prior to sending. Check and double check for spelling, correct phone numbers and e-mail addresses where you can be reached. Converting your documents to PDF is also helpful and when you save them label them with your name, date, and document type, CV, Resume, Cover Letter.

Good luck with your job searching!

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1 reply


  1. New Job Search and Jobs Alert on AFNP ! – American Family Nurse Practitioner™

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