An ICU nurse’s job has never been an easy one. The work requires calm, efficiency and detail orientation as well as a caring demeanor. Pandemic times have doubled (or quadrupled) down on the difficulty of this highly skilled profession, but also on the demand for workers to fill these important frontline jobs. That means that if you can create a powerful ICU nurse resume, you can have your pick of positions.
Creating the resume that will land you that coveted interview is too important to leave to chance. You need to consult the experts. At Resume.io you will find all the resources a job seeker needs, as we provide resume guides and resume examples for 300+ professions, backed up by an easy-to-use resume builder. Learn how to present yourself as the skilled and dedicated professional ICU nurse that you are.
This resume guide, along with the corresponding resume example, will cover the following topics:
- What does an ICU nurse do?
- Tips and tricks for writing an ICU nurse resume
- The best format for an ICU nurse resume
- Advice on each section of your resume (summary, work history, education, skills)
- Professional resume layout and design hints.
What does an ICU nurse do?
The job of an ICU nurse, also called a critical care nurse, stands in contrast to that of an ER nurse. ICU nurses are charged with caring for the most fragile patients for as long as they need intensive care. While ER nurses are bombarded with cases and must multi-task and make quick decisions constantly, ICU nurses must remain methodical and meticulous.
Patients in the intensive care unit require constant and consistent monitoring. ICU nurses need to be alert to any change in a patient’s health. They administer medications, care for medical machinery such as ventilators and any other medical equipment such as intravenous lines and catheters that a patient needs. Because of the fragility of their patients, ICU nurses may be called on at any time to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or any other lifesaving techniques.
ICU nurses must also work closely with the entire medical team and are the main point of contact both with the patient and the patient’s family. Nurse.org points out that ICU nurses are vital to a hospital’s ability to care for trauma or end-of-life patients.
How much do ICU nurses earn?
You may not be surprised to know that experience and geography play a huge role in the answer to this question. ICU nurses may earn anywhere between $35.91 per hour to $54.94 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter, which lists New York as the best-paying locale and North Carolina at the top of the salary scale.
Payscale.com reports a median hourly rate of $32.64 across the United States with newly minted ICU nurses earning $27.78 and those with 20+ years of experience commanding $41.61.
ICU nurses job market and outlook
The pandemic has strained healthcare resources to their limits. Hospitals are short-staffed due to an increase in critically ill patients, healthcare provider burnout and staff illness. If you are willing to travel as an ICU nurse, you are highly sought after. From March to November of 2021, openings for travel ICU nurses skyrocketed 305%, according to a report by NurseFly. Along with the extreme demand has also come pay increases of 80%-90%.
It is difficult to predict the demand over a longer period, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a typical growth of 9% from 2020-2030 for all registered nurses.
How to write an ICU nurse resume
The first step in writing your ICU nurse resume is knowing what components go into it. Your CV should contain the following elements:
- The resume header
- The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The resume skills section
- The education section
A great ICU nurse resume should elevate the heart rate of recruiters and have them scheduling an interview stat. Here are some points to remember:
- Adapt your CV to fit each different job remembering that each hospital and ICU department has its own needs.
- Create a vision impression that matches the professional personality you want to convey with a crisp, clean layout.
- Take into account the ATS and use pertinent keywords and phrases when applying for positions online.
Applicant Tracking Systems conveniently input all your data into the HR systems of the hospitals you’re targeting. That’s great if as you know that they are also using algorithms to scan for specific keywords and phrases within your ICU nurse resume. That means you need to optimize your CV to try to rank high enough to get to human eyes.
To do that, analyze the job listing for the keywords and phrases your prospective employer lists. Then make sure you use those exact words and phrases in appropriate places within your resume. Don’t force it or overdo it, but do get many in as you can without compromising the quality of your text.
Choosing the best resume format for an ICU nurse
Yes, you want to stand out, but your resume format is not the place to do it. In general, resumes should all follow the reverse chronological order format in which you list your most recent position and work your way back. If you’re new to the field or are a seasoned ICU nurse, you may take a look at the hybrid or alternate formats we suggest.
The functional resume format works best for professionals with highly technical or niche skills. This may fit you if you have very specialized medical knowledge, because it reserves the most space for your skills instead of your work experience.
In most cases, however, we recommend you stick with reverse chronological order.
Resume summary example: A healthy description
The position of the summary of your ICU nurse resume, right at the top of your document, signals its importance. It may not be the first place a recruiter looks (that is likely your most recent work experience), but if they like what they see, you can be sure that they will read these 2-4 freestyle lines to learn more about you.
Your summary, also known as a profile, introduces your professional personality and wows the recruiter with your biggest successes. There’s no point in being modest here. You’re an excellent ICU nurse so use powerful adjectives to describe yourself, but don’t overstate your achievements. An ICU department is a cooperative endeavor, so giving your colleagues credit shows that you’re a team player. Check out the summary from our ICU nurse resume sample below.
If you’re not confident in yourself or you’re tentative about overdoing it, ask a trusted colleague and a friend or two to describe you in a few words. You may be surprised at what superlative words they use!
If you’re still unsure of how to approach this section, look at our related medical resume samples. We have a general nurse resume sample, a medical resume example and a healthcare resume sample to guide you. If you’re looking for an administrative position, the health care administration resume example or the clinic coordinator resume sample may inspire you.
Dedicated and compassionate ICU nurse with 8+ years of experience serving in some of the New York area's busiest hospitals. Adept in providing appropriate care for patients with a wide variety of complex medical needs.
Employment history sample: Chart your career
The bulk of your ICU nurse resume will be taken up by your work experience, unless you are new to the workforce. The keys to the employment history section are to use strong verbs that show you are action-oriented, followed by the results of your actions.
Your previous experiences should demonstrate to employers that you are already doing the job they have open or that your skills will directly transfer to the position you seek. Use the resume sample text below as a guideline for your own.
ICU Nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York
June 2015 - Present
- Provided high quality care for acute patients with diversified needs in a 48-person ICU department.
- Effectively communicated and collaborated with interdisciplinary team members to ensure desired patient outcomes.
- Monitored vital signs and any notified physicians of any clinical changes.
- Performed assessments and appropriate medical interventions as needed.
- Complied with rigorous standards of patient care service, maintaining a 95% compliance rate and achieving some of the highest levels of patient satisfaction in my department.
- Assessed and monitored patients' neurological statuses and pain levels.
Registered Nurse at NYU Langone, New York
September 2013 - May 2015
- Effectively communicated with all levels of the organization to ensure patient needs were met.
- Collected patient healthcare data systematically and continually using appropriate assessment techniques and instruments.
- Analyzed assessments to properly determine nursing diagnoses and suitable responses.
- Evaluated the patients progress toward attainment of expected outcomes.
- Continually maintained medical knowledge and competence to ensure the ability to fulfill responsibilities.
CV skills example: Compassion and competence
An ICU nurse needs very specific medical knowledge and the ability to administer medication, monitor vital signs and other bodily functions, and perform life-saving measures. Those are the basic hard skills necessary to do the job. But an ICU nurse also needs a wealth of soft skills. ICU nurses deal with families and patients at some of the most stressful times of their lives and their empathy and communication skills make a big difference.
Your CV skills section should come together as a blend of hard and soft skills that give an overview of the best of your abilities. Don’t forget that you need to take into account
Here are some other important skills, according to Onwardhealthcare.com.
- Extreme organization
- Caring and strong during difficult situations
- Ability to evaluate patients as their condition changes
- Excellent teamwork
Below you’ll find the skills section from our adaptable resume example.
- Patient Care
- Leadership Skills
- Assessment and Diagnosis
- Critical Care
- Bedside Monitoring
- Decision Making
- Patient Education
ICU nurse resume education example
As an ICU nurse, your education is important and so are your licenses and certifications. First, you became a registered nurse (RN) and then earned a certification, most likely certification for adult critical care nurses (CCRN) from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
You may list your education and your certifications in this section or choose to create a separate certification section if you have space. See our resume sample text below.
Master of Science in Nursing, Manhattan College, New York
September 2011 - August 2013
Bachelor of Science in Biology, Iona College, New Rochelle
September 2007 - May 2011
Resume layout and design: First impressions
The goal of your ICU nurse resume is to get that great job! That means taking into account that first impressions mean a lot. When a recruiter first sees your resume, what do you want them to think? The qualities of a great ICU nurse should come through in your layout and design.
Your organizational skills are a key component of your professional life; therefore, your resume must be well-organized and neat. Err on the side of a conservative design that uses easy-to-read fonts such as Georgia or Helvetica. If you want to add accents, try a serif type, or one that has the decorative flourishes that end letters, such as Rooney or Tisa.
To get your job search moving quickly and to eliminate the potential for formatting errors, use one of our field-tested resume templates and check out our resume samples to find the look that speaks to you.
Key takeaways for an ICU nurse resume
- The demand for ICU nurses is at an all-time high, so take advantage of the job market with an excellent CV.
- The well-honed organizational skills of an ICU nurse will serve you well as you compile and design your resume.
- To make it past the ATS, make sure you target your resume using keywords and phrases from the job listing.
- Our adaptable ICU nurse resume sample can put you on the path to creating a great layout and design.