Career Assistance Information for Nurses

Creating Résumé and Cover Letter

Creating a résumé and cover letter that effectively highlight your qualifications, skills and experience is key to a successful job search.


A résumé is usually 2 pages in length. The format generally includes career objective, work experience, education, volunteer experience and any additional training or certification. You don't have to list every job you ever had but do include your most recent positions so an employer will be able to see your career progression.

Cover Letter

The cover letter can be short, approximately 4 paragraphs in length, and include the following:

  • the position you are applying for and where you learned about the job.
  • the skills, knowledge and experience that qualify you for the position.
  • your knowledge about the organization.
  • ask for an interview and thank the hiring manager/recruiter for reviewing your résumé and considering your application.

Interview Tips

Interview questions may be generic to health care, but most will be specific to the applicable nursing unit. Here are some interviewing tips:

  • Familiarize yourself with the unit you are applying to, as well as the specific skills that are required for the position.
  • Be prepared for a combination of behavioural and situational interview questions.
  • Speak clearly and enthusiastically about your experiences and skills. Be professional, but don't be afraid to let your personality shine through.
  • Ask the interviewer questions.
  • Send a follow-up thank you note to the interviewer. This will reiterate your interest in the position and help you stand out from other applicants.

Sample Interview Questions

  • How do you stay current in your practice?
  • Explain evidenced-based practice and how you use it.
  • Tell us about a time when you advocated for a patient.
  • How did you handle an irate physician, co-worker or patient? What were the results?
  • How would you deal with a co-worker who broke policy?
  • What do you feel you need from the managers to ensure a successful orientation?
  • Don't forget to ask the interviewer questions as well. Some examples of questions you may want to ask include:
  • What is the nurse/patient ratio?
  • What do you do to ensure a safe work environment?
  • What challenges is the unit facing?
  • How long is the orientation? If I feel I require additional orientation, will it be provided?
  • Do you have any educational assistance programs available for employees?

Career Resources

The following sites provide career-assistance information, including tips on creating a résumé. Please note: The websites below are examples of available resources and are not to be viewed as endorsements.

General Resources

Workopolis: résumé-writing
Provides a comprehensive résumé-writing guide that includes identifying your skills, targeting your résumé, eye-catching phrases and more.

Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
Links to a number of career-planning resources.

University of Toronto Career Centre: Résumé Tip Sheet
Guides you through creating a résumé and directs you to other resources.

University of Waterloo Career Development e-Manual
Provides a step-by-step guide to creating a résumé, which includes videos and résumé templates. 
Has information for your whole job search: cover letter tips, interview techniques, job search strategies, career planning, résumé examples, templates and advice.

Purdue Online Writing Lab 
Provides a guide to creating a résumé, including when to use 2 pages or more, design tips and management resumés.

Nurse Career Resources

RNAO Career Services
Offers a wide range of career services to help focus and enhance your career.

Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario 
Provides a wide range of career development services, including nurse promotional materials, nurse profiles and career counselling resources.