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The vital work carried out every day by medical professionals has been spotlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic – we’ve all seen first-hand how important healthcare workers really are. Certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, are no exception. They work in a variety of settings to provide basic support to patients from all walks of life, improving their quality of life and supporting the doctors and nurses who deliver more advanced forms of care.
Even better, the job outlook for CNAs remains bright despite the state of the economy. The number of nursing assistant and orderly roles in the US is expected to grow by 8% over the coming decade, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Training and finding work as a CNA is a great way to build a stable career in a well-regarded field.
As a result, however, competition for CNA roles can be intense – particularly for those who have no experience in the field. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to building a competitive CNA resume, even without any relevant work experience behind you. Read on for advice and examples that will help you build your first resume!
A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, provides crucial support to the healthcare system. CNAs provide direct, hands-on care to patients, often attending to their basic day-to-day needs. They can be employed in a wide range of settings, including:
The work carried out by CNAs may seem rudimentary, but it plays a vital role in the process of delivering care. From day to day, CNAs work to assist patients with the activities of daily living – that includes eating, toileting, moving, bathing, and grooming. That work could involve tasks ranging from taking trips to the grocery store to lifting patients into beds and wheelchairs as needed.
CNAs also need to be able to take vital signs, maintain awareness of any changes in patients’ health, and communicate on a regular basis with other members of a patient’s care team. They need to be responsible for maintaining a sanitary and safe living environment for patients, including cleaning any spills and changing soiled sheets. And most significantly, they typically provide companionship and comfort to patients – many of whom have been left lonely by the extent of the care they require.
In order to work as a CNA, you will need a high school diploma, and you will need to complete a certification in accordance with your state’s requirements before you can work. You may also need to be licensed, though licensing requirements vary between states. You should also keep in mind that working as a CNA is a physically demanding job involving a great deal of heavy lifting – the role will require you to achieve a certain standard of physical fitness.
Later in your career, you may wish to specialize by taking additional certifications. If you want to progress to become a licensed practical nurse, or LPN, you will need to complete a one- to two-year training program to earn the right license. You could also train as a RN, though this will require you to earn a two-year associate’s degree.
If you want to find work as a CNA without any prior experience, your resume needs to tell hiring managers two important things. The first is that you have the right qualifications, and thus can legally work as a CNA. The second is that you have all the skills you need – whether hard or soft – to succeed as a nursing assistant.
As a newly-trained CNA, you may not have much direct work experience. That won’t prevent you from finding work! Employers will be less concerned about your past experience than your education and training, so you should make sure your resume prioritizes the qualifications you worked so hard to earn.
However, depending on your circumstances, you may have built some relevant experience through volunteering or hobbies. If you have ever volunteered in an environment focused on providing care, for example, that could be a useful string to your bow. Any experience along those lines can and should feature on your resume.
In general, a CNA resume written by a candidate with no prior work experience should contain the following:
Finding the right format for your resume is all about deciding what you want hiring managers to pay attention to. When you choose your professionally-designed CNA resume template from our selection, think carefully about what the job description is asking for from candidates. Because jobs in this field require a combination of qualifications, skills, and experience, you may not need a resume format that pulls focus to any particular element.
On the other hand, if you don’t have any prior experience, you should consider prioritizing your education and training on your resume. Look for a template that will let you showcase the greatest strengths you have to offer. Later in your career, when you have direct work experience behind you, you can consider switching to a format that balances all the elements of your resume more equally.
You should also remember that many hiring managers sort through resumes using an applicant tracking system, or ATS. This can be frustrating for applicants, as it means their resumes are never actually seen by a real person – if your resume doesn’t get past the ATS software, which filters resumes based on keywords drawn from the job description, your application will usually be removed from consideration.
Thankfully, all of VisualCV’s resume templates are built to get around ATS software. Our layouts won’t confuse the software, which will maximize your chances of making it through to the next stage of consideration. That means you can focus on building the strongest possible resume, without worrying about software requirements!
Your resume should usually begin with a summary – a short, concise explanation of your best qualities. The summary should always reflect the requirements of the job description, which means you’ll need to tailor it to the role you want every time you apply. This is the first thing a recruiter will see on your resume, so it’s important to get it right!
If you don’t have much experience, your summary should focus on your education and training. Once you’ve worked in a relevant job, you will be able to focus any subsequent summaries on your past experience and workplace achievements. 3 summary examples:
Don’t write a wordy, overly-personal summary that could fit into your cover letter instead. Your cover letter should tell the story of why you want the job, but your resume summary needs to be shorter and more to the point. It should be a brief appraisal of why you fit the job description and what you can bring to the table.
In fact, some recruiters don’t believe that a resume summary is necessary. If you’re finding it too difficult to get the format right, don’t worry – you can always choose to leave it out. Don’t Do This:
When applying for non-entry level positions, you won’t normally need a resume objective. But if you have never worked in a particular field before, or if you don’t have much experience, you should consider including an objective alongside your resume summary.
Confused about the difference between the two? Remember, a summary is just a short description of what makes you suitable for the job you’re applying for. Your objective, meanwhile, is a one-sentence statement about your career goals – for example, the type of job you want to do. CNA Resume Objective Example:
It’s easy to be intimidated by the Experience section on your resume when you don’t have much to fill it out! But even if you really don’t have anything that could fit the bill, don’t panic. You can leave out the Experience section entirely, and make sure that your education, skills and qualifications are listed comprehensively instead.
If you have volunteer experience, on the other hand, you can and should include that here.
Whatever the experience you’re writing about, make sure you describe it in a way that reflects the work you put into earning it. Don’t just list your regular tasks! Write about what you accomplished while carrying them out.
Recruiters want to see hard facts about your performance, even when you were just a volunteer. You need to show what you did to make your work stand out – that way, recruiters are more likely to believe that you can do it again in a new role. CNA Resume Experience Example: Volunteer Care Assistant, Green Cove Residential Home | 2017-2019
You should never just list the tasks you performed without adding any further information. Based on your job title, hiring managers will be able to surmise what you did as part of a previous role! You have to prove to them that you were able to get good results when you did it. Don’t Do This: Volunteer Care Assistant, Green Cove Residential Home | 2017-2019
It can be tricky to figure out which skills to list on your resume. The job description can be a useful guide, but it may not include every skill you’ll be expected to have – there are some skills that recruiters will expect you to have as a matter of course.
For general information about skills on your resume, check out our resume skills guide here!
|Hard Skills for CNAs||Soft Skills for CNAs|
|Wound care||Time management|
|Heavy lifting||Attention to detail|
Having a certification on your resume shows hiring managers that you can take the initiative to give your career a boost. It also acts as proof of your skills and abilities. Remember, when trying to find work in the medical field, you need to give hiring managers confidence that you can perform all the necessary tasks that will help your patients – a certification can help you to make that point.
As a CNA, you will need to be certified as a matter of course. But if you want to aim for more specialized positions with higher salaries in future, here are some extra certifications that could help bolster your prospects!
Once you’ve earned your initial CNA certification, you may be able to pursue additional training. Each level of CNA training comes with a slight pay bump, which could set you up for success right away! However, you’ll need to check whether your state offers these programs, as availability can be variable.
If you’re currently employed as a CNA, you may have the opportunity to participate in the patient care technician program, organized by the American Phlebotomy Association. You could learn how to perform phlebotomy on patients and take EKG readings, alongside your existing skills.
Taking the MACE can train you to give medications to patients – a skill not all CNAs have. This certification will make you much more employable! You may even be able to take it in coordination with your workplace, if you’re already employed as a CNA.
Soft skills will help you complete your day-to-day tasks as a CNA. But more importantly, they will show a hiring manager that you can do the work that will be asked of you if you get the job. For applicants without prior work experience, soft skills are a great way to shore up your resume.
Here are some of the most important soft skills to include on your CNA resume!
Working as a CNA will require you to communicate clearly with your patients about their needs – but also with the other members of their care team. If you can make yourself understood, even in stressful situations, you will have a real advantage in your role.
Many of the patients you will work with as a CNA will be scared, lonely and frustrated. You may be one of their most frequent points of contact – which means you will need to be able to provide comfort and compassion to them, regardless of the circumstances. If you’re capable of that, you could really thrive as a CNA.
Your tasks as a CNA will vary from day to day, according to your patient’s needs. If you can keep on top of changing circumstances without compromising the quality of your work, hiring managers will be much more likely to take your application seriously.
Nursing, as a career path, has great earning potential. But as a newly-trained CNA, how much can you expect to make?
According to Indeed, CNAs can expect to make an average of $19.83 per hour. But check out how you can expect your salary to increase over time:
Working as a CNA is a great way to build experience in the field of nursing. You’ll learn about the patient care process from the ground up, and you’ll have opportunities to build the experience and skills that will allow you to progress in the future. Plus, you’ll be able to make a difference to your patients’ lives every day – what’s more rewarding than that?
VisualCV has you covered as you prepare to apply for your first CNA job. You can customize every aspect of your resume with a VisualCV Pro membership, which will help you to stand out from other applicants in your field. We’ll be behind you every step of the way as you forge the career of your dreams!