Every Nurse Should Have This One Item

How are nurses supposed to standout in interviews against other candidates? How should nurses keep track of all their accomplishments? 

It’s simple: A Portfolio

Many nurses go into their interviews with a nice pressed outfit and a simple document, their resume. Sure, that is pretty standard and great if you want to present yourself the same way as the other 15 candidates. To standout, a portfolio will not only show that you are prepared but it will give a glimpse into your background and experience.

Even if you are not preparing for an interview, I highly recommend all nurses have one. It is something that you can develop throughout your career and flip through when you need inspiration. Your portfolio is a great way to keep track of all your accomplishments.

I’ve listed below the most important things to include in your portfolio. Have fun with this and make it personal. If you want, decorate the front. My only advice, avoid loose glitter.

1- Cover Letter

The cover letter needs to be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. It should be brief, concise, and directed to the person interviewing you.

2- Resume

Make sure your resume is clear and legible. Try your best to make it one page.  The great thing about having a portfolio is that you can showcase additional content and accomplishments that are not necessary on the resume.

3- Recommendation Letters

It’s always important to keep recommendation letters. I have received six over the years but keep the two most recent in my portfolio. Two letters seem like the perfect number. One is not enough and three is too many! Don’t be EXTRA!

4- Certifications

Print out and showcase your certifications. Include those required for the job and ones that feature additional skills. Examples are: CPR, ACLS, PALS, TCRN, CCRN, etc.

5- Research and/or Papers

Don’t worry! You don’t have to be a writer for the New York Times or researcher at Johns Hopkins to include content in this section. Use a paper you wrote in nursing school. If you have been out of school the past few years, use something you wrote or researched for your unit practice council. If you can’t think of anything, no worries. Just skip this section.

6- Volunteer and Community Service

This is my favorite section!!! This is your chance to show you are making a difference out in your community. Include certificates or letters showing your number of volunteer hours. List all the community service you’ve done and with what organizations. Feel free to include photographs!

7- Participation in professional organizations

It’s essential for nurses to be involved in professional organizations. Are you a member of the American Nurses Association or a nursing specialty association. Some examples are AACN, AMSN, ENA, SPN, etc.  If you are in school, it could be the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) or your school nursing organization.

8- Other

If there is anything else you want to include, put it here. I’d omit photos of your pets. HA!


If interviewing, you should always leave your portfolio behind with the potential employer. This will give them something to remember you by. It will also be something they can show their team. With that in mind, put together multiple portfolios. I have 3 ready to go! I also recommend keeping a computer file with all your portfolio documents so that you can print more in the future.

Having a portfolio will help you keep track of your nursing journey. I hope you take the time to make one and be sure to keep it updated.

Have a great shift!



  1. I like the presentation folio that you displayed in the video companion to this post. Can you share what folder/binder that you used for your personal portfolio?

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