ICU nurses are the heart of any critical care unit. So like many other nursing specialties, hiring for ICU positions is competitive, and nursing managers are selective in who they choose to fill such critical roles in patient care.
Whether you’re a veteran nurse or a new travel nursing graduate looking for your first position in the ICU, it’s crucial to craft a resume tailored to each prospective position to represent your relevant experiences.
To create a distinguished ICU nurse resume, all you need are six simple steps (and a few tips and tricks) that can help you stand out as a star candidate.
What Are the 6 Steps For Writing an ICU Nurse Resume?
To craft the ultimate ICU resume, there are a few essential sections to include. Once you’ve fleshed out the basic sections below, you can hone in on ways to further distinguish yourself from the competition when applying for positions in the intensive care unit.
#1 Include Your Contact Information
When crafting an ICU nurse resume, it’s important to include your contact information. This gives the nurse manager or other potential employer multiple ways to get in touch with you when they’re ready to arrange an interview.
You can include the following contact information at the top of your resume:
- Your first and last name
- A professional email address
- Your phone number
- The city and state where you live
#2 Write an Objective Statement or Professional Summary On Your Critical Nursing Background
Although these sections both explain why you’re the ideal candidate for working with critically ill patients, they’re written with slight nuances depending on your work experience:1
- Objective statement – This is ideal for job seekers who are fresh out of college or have two or fewer years of real-world experience. In one to two sentences, you can list your specific skills and educational background. For example, you could say:
Patient-focused ICU registered nurse seeking employment with Advent Medical. Eager to use two years of experience working in intensive care units and emergency situations to provide compassionate and diligent treatment to patients.
- Professional summary – If you’re a seasoned nursing veteran, consider adding a professional summary instead. It’s a one-paragraph explanation that demonstrates your work experience, lists your many accomplishments, highlights the relevant skills you’ve mastered in the intensive care unit of your previous hospital, and includes any ICU nurse certifications you’ve earned.
Here’s an example of a professional summary for an ICU nursing resume:
Empathetic and hard-working ICU nurse with 12 years of experience in a fast-paced environment. Worked in a 12-bed ICU unit assessing patients’ conditions, monitoring for changes, and performing assessments. Helped establish a more effective line of communication between physicians and ICU nurses on the floor that resulted in patients being seen by doctors three times faster.
#3 Describe Your Work Experience
The third section of your ICU resume allows you to highlight your work experience and skill set. If you’re new to the world of ICU nursing, display any relevant experience you’ve had thus far, paid or unpaid, including:2
- Your assigned duties while acting as a shadow to more senior medical professionals
- Your responsibilities while completing a nursing internship
- Related volunteer work in the field of healthcare
On the other hand, if you have prior nursing experience, include any responsibilities, accomplishments, and skills you improved during your time in each ICU nurse position. In reverse chronological order, you can format your work experience section as follows:
Name of organization
- Task or accomplishment in this role
- Task or accomplishment in this role
#4 Include Your Work-Related Skills
Next, think about which skills you use at work that highlight your abilities as the ideal candidate for the ICU nursing position. Include six to eight skills that encompass both hard and soft skills:
- Hard skills – These include abilities you’ve learned through education or on-the-job training, like basic life support and telemetry.3
- Soft skills – These qualities demonstrate how you operate in a work environment, such as time management and problem-solving skills.
#5 Add Certifications and Licenses
In addition to listing your nursing degree, you should also include any certifications and licenses you’ve acquired that further demonstrate your range of abilities when caring for patients in the ICU. Depending on the role, credentialing could play a crucial part in securing a rewarding ICU nursing salary.
For transparency, also list the expiration date of each item listed, such as:
- Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) Exp: June 18, 2025
- Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) Certification Exp: December 06, 2024
#6 Relay Your Educational Background
Lastly, take a moment to highlight your degrees related to healthcare and nursing for the hiring manager to review. For this section, you can include the following:
- Institution attended
- Degree earned
- Years attended
You may also choose to include your minor if it was related to nursing and your GPA if it was 3.5 or higher. Including other accomplishments, such as being named to your school’s honor roll or graduating with distinction, can also exemplify your educational prowess when building your nursing resume.
What Are the Top ICU Nursing Skills to Include on Your Resume?
It’s crucial that your resume stands out from the crowd—especially when the nursing manager begins scanning through an endless electronic pile of applications. If they’re using an applicant tracking system (ATS), you can increase your chances of being noticed by the nursing manager (and the ATS) by including skills listed in the job description.
In addition to soft skills like organization, attention to detail, and communication, here are some of the highly sought-after hard skills a potential employer looks for when hiring ICU nurses:3
- Critical care
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Patient care
- Family care
- Discharge planning
How Do You List ICU Travel Nursing On Your Resume?
If you have prior experience in travel nursing roles, it’s easy (and important) to differentiate temporary positions versus permanent ones. You can make this distinction in your work experience section by adding a line explaining whether the position was travel or permanent, like we’ve done in the following example:
Name of organization
Travel position or permanent position
How Can You Make Your ICU Nursing Resume Stand Out?
When you’re competing with countless applicants who are all vying for a singular ICU nursing position, it’s crucial to ensure your resume tops the list and presents you as the most qualified for the ICU nurse position. You’ve decided you want to become an ICU nurse, but how can you make sure you shine brighter than the competition?
If you’re interested in learning how to successfully secure a rewarding position, try some of these tips to help elevate your resume above other applicants.
#1 Tailor Your Resume to Each Application
If you’re looking for a new role as an ICU registered nurse, applying to multiple positions can expand your options and potentially net you a better salary and benefits. But instead of sending the same resume to 10 different employers or hiring managers, focus on making minor (yet critical) adjustments to each one, such as:
- Including the preferred skills listed in each job description
- Putting the healthcare facility’s name in your professional summary or objective statement to show your keen interest in working specifically for that company
- Noting a particular feature or accomplishment of the healthcare facility in your objective statement
#2 List Quantifiable Achievements
Whenever possible, quantify specific instances of your accomplishments with numerical information that give employers a frame of reference for your experience.
For example, rather than stating that you worked in the ICU unit, elaborate on how large the unit was. Explaining that you worked in a 12-bed ICU unit highlights other skills, such as your ability to work well in a fast-paced environment.
#3 Keep It Concise
While you may be proud of the duties you’ve performed at every nursing job you’ve had over the years, listing all of your experience over the last two decades may put-off, rather than persuade employers and hiring managers.
Instead, try to keep your resume short and to the point—no longer than one page in length.
A nurse manager skims resumes very quickly, so consider the most relevant skills and experience you’d like to include. Preferably, they should be from your more recent roles within the past 10 to 15 years.
#4 Proofread Before Submitting
You’d be surprised by how many people excitedly send off their resumes without proofreading them. The best way to ensure you catch any errors before submitting your resume is to give yourself a break after completing it. Then, proofread it once your brain is refreshed.
When proofreading, look for the following mistakes in:
In addition to correcting basic grammar, read the resume out loud to ensure the words flow smoothly. Consider reviewing a similar resume sample or two to make sure yours is in line with what the hospital is looking for. If you find yourself confused, tongue-tied, or feeling like something could be explained in simpler terms, go with your gut and make those changes.
Start Your Travel ICU Nursing Adventure with Host Healthcare
Whether you’re new to the world of ICU nursing or you’re simply looking for a fresh position in an uncharted and exciting location, consider expanding your horizons (and career) with Host Healthcare.
When you apply to Host Healthcare, you’ll be connected with a knowledgeable recruiter who’s dedicated to finding you a travel nurse position that suits your unique experience, interests, and preferences. Whether you’re looking to prioritize a favorable climate, high wages, growth potential, or other factors, our team can help you find your ideal job in any state. And our support doesn’t end there. Our recruiters will also have your back through every step of the application process—from resume crafting to interview prep.
Apply to become a traveler with Host Healthcare today to begin your travel ICU nursing journey.
Hannah Wilson, BSN, RN, CCRN
Nursing Specialty: M/SICU, PreOp
I began my career as a new graduate nurse in an M/SICU where I ended up working for 5 years, one year of which I was a Team Leader. In January of 2020, I took my first travel nursing position in a Burn ICU. After 13 weeks there, I spent the next 14 months in a couple of Medical/COVID ICUs in CA where I primarily cared for COVID patients. After 7 years in the ICU, I needed a change and took a permanent position in PreOp in September of 2021, which is where I currently work. Being a nurse has given me so many opportunities and has taught me more than I ever thought it could – I can’t imagine doing anything else!
- “Objective or Professional Summary.” Marquette University, www.marquette.edu/business/career-center/undergrad/resume/Resume-Guide-Objective.pdf
- NurseJournal Staff. “10 Ways to Gain Professional Nursing Experience.” NurseJournal, 20 June 2022, nursejournal.org/articles/ways-to-get-professional-nursing-experience
- Meinke, Hannah. “ICU Nursing: What You Need to Know About Working in the Intensive Care Unit.” Rasmussen University, www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/icu-nursing