When it comes to job hunting, whether you’re a new grad nurse or an experienced RN, you always want to showcase your best self. A great way to do that is with an up-to-date nursing portfolio. Another reason to create and maintain a nursing portfolio as it creates a history of your career. As you apply for jobs now, and in the future, your portfolio is a wonderful resource for highlighting your accomplishments in resumes and cover letters.

What is a nursing portfolio? For a student, a nursing portfolio is a synopsis of your achievements throughout nursing school packaged together with your resume. For an experienced nurse, it’s a history of your career and accomplishments. But, more importantly, it’s a way to help make yourself stand out from the crowd, show prospective employers you take yourself seriously, and demonstrate how dedicated you are to your career. Another great benefit of maintaining a nursing portfolio is that any certifications or other frequently requested items are always at your fingertips.

Think of a nursing portfolio as an archive that shows your progression as a nurse. While a resume predominantly lists your education and employment history, a nursing portfolio includes a wide range of items that showcase the expertise and competencies you’ve developed over the years.

Nursing portfolio formats

Maintain both an original (hard copy) of your nursing portfolio as well as a digital version that acts as a backup and can easily be shared with others. One option is to create a PDF of your portfolio, but if you truly want to stand out, consider using an online platform such as Hiration or Portfolium. And, if you’re tech savvy,  you can even create your own custom website or a view-only document in Canva.

resume template bundleItems to include in a nursing portfolio

As you put together your nursing portfolio, keep in mind that it should give prospective employers or school admissions officers a full picture of who you are as a professional nurse. Note that not every section will be applicable to you, as some sections are more geared toward students while others are more likely to be utilized by a seasoned nurse.

  • Cover page – A cover page with your name, license, education level, contact information, and LinkedIn profile if you have one.
  • TOC – A table of contents may be helpful for a digital portfolio.
  • Cover letter and resume- A cover letter may be utilized if the portfolio is being presented for a specific position. Though the cover letter and resume are traditionally provided at the initial stage of the application process, including them here ensures everything is in one place. See below for tips on how to structure a new-grad resume.
  • Recommendation and recognition – Include letters of recommendation from school faculty, volunteer organizations, families, patients, and possibly even past employers from a prior career. If you’ve been nominated for special recognition, such as a DAISY award or a scholarship, include these as well. Were you highlighted in the school or hospital newsletter? Including things like this personalize your portfolio and makes it stand out. If you’re a new grad nurse, you may also want to include two or three glowing evaluations from your clinical instructors.
  • Transcripts – There are times when showcasing your impressive academic record may be beneficial, such as applying to graduate school or a new grad residency program.
  • Leadership – Experienced nurses may want to include a section highlighting the details of any leadership roles such as precepting, working on QI projects or conducting research.
  • Community service and professional development – If your work as a nurse expands outside the hospital, include this in your portfolio. This could include volunteering with the elderly, organizing a health fair for patients with MS, or acting as Chairperson for the local chapter of Sigma Theta Tau. A brief paragraph explaining your role and experience would make a great addition to your portfolio.
  • Nursing philosophy – This is a great section to talk about what nursing means to you, how your values help you be a better practitioner, and your future goals.
  • Certifications and licensure – Include your nursing license(s) and any certifications, especially advanced certifications such as CCRN or WOCN.

Some tips for putting together your portfolio

Think of the nursing portfolio as a professional document that supplements your resume. This is not the time to get creative with decorative elements. Keep it simple, clean, and organized. Place certifications and other items that cannot be reproduced inside plastic page protectors so ensure your portfolio stays looking its best. And lastly, add tabs for each section to make the portfolio easy to navigate.

Looking for more tips on starting your career? Check out Episode 275 where I talk with Amanda Guarniere from The Resume Rx about navigating a job offer.

Tips for building a new grad resume

New grad nurses often struggle with what to include in their resumes since they don’t yet have nursing experience. Items to include:

  • Education
  • Certifications and licensing
  • Honors and awards from nursing school
  • Preceptorship – Details about my 270 preceptorship
  • Clinical placements – Location and number of hours
  • Nursing experience – Volunteer service and student nurse highlights
  • Professional experience – Crossover skills from prior career or jobs you’ve had during nursing school
  • Lectures attended – If you attend workshops, lectures and seminars related to nursing, list them as it shows your interested in staying current in the field.
  • References – List references or state “references available upon request.

For tips on creating that first nursing resume, click here to listen to Episode 213 where I talk with Amanda Guarniere from The Resume Rx.

Need help crafting your resume? Enroll in Resume Makeover Pro and learn from Amanda herself in an online program designed to get you more callbacks from hiring managers than ever before (affiliate link).

Just need some help crafting your resume? Get 20% off the Nurse Resume Template Bundle at the Resume Rx (affiliate link).

Take this topic on the go by tuning in to episode 324 of the Straight A Nursing podcast. Listen from any podcast platform, or straight from the website here.

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