We give you some behind-the-scenes insight into how you can make the most of your application and how applications are received by an employer when you apply for an online vacancy. About Matt Farrah - follow me on Google+

Applying for nursing or midwifery jobs online can be really confusing if you don’t use online job boards regularly, so we’ve laid everything out in this step by step guide. You can use this guide to get an overview of how the process works as a whole, or you can keep this document open in a separate window while you work on your application.

Career Profile

On every job board that you sign up to you will have a profile area, and on and it’s called ‘Career Profile’. You can login here to view your career profile along with your personal details and application history. Your career profile is one of the main tools you have to convey information about who you are and what your experience is. You can follow these points one at time as you're completing the career profile - we will talk you through every field and how to make the best impression.

1. Profile Name: Rather than simply using your name in this field, try to be descriptive using the job title of your current role, for example “Jane Doe - Community Staff Nurse”. This will entice the employer to read more about you.

2. Current level: Select the current stage you’re at in your career. If there’s not a level that exactly suits your situation, choose the one that most closely matches you. If you’re a student nurse and have completed your course but are awaiting your pin number, you should select qualified.

3. Current job sector: Choose up to 2 sectors that you’re currently or have most recently worked in. Hold down the ‘ctrl’ key when you click to select more than 1 option.

4. Current job title: This should be your job title as given on your job description. For example “Staff Nurse - MAU”. If you’re newly qualified looking for your first position you can write “newly qualified nurse” or "newly qualified RMN nurse" (obviously you should substitute RMN for whichever branch you are qualified in!).

5. Current Organisation Type: Enter the type of organisation that your employer belongs to. This might be NHS Primary Care Trust, Private Hospital, Local Authority or Charity to name just a few. Again if you’re newly qualified, put “looking for first nursing job” in this field.

6. Years in this kind of job: As simple as it sounds, select the number of years in your current or most recent role. If you’ve worked a number of years plus up to and including 5 months 31 days, round the figure down, and if you’ve worked a number of years plus 6 months of more, round the figure up.

7. Are you qualified?: Simply answer yes or no. If you have any type of healthcare qualification including a nursing degree or diploma, an NVQ or QCF diploma or a healthcare management qualification, answer yes.

8. Words about you: This should be a very short summary of your experience, your current role and your professional skills. Pick out some relevant points to highlight why you're a great candidate because this part of your profile (along with a selection of the rest) is displayed in the email that is sent with your CV when you apply for a job. We only allow relatively few words in this area in order to keep it short and concise, so make it count.

9. Total years in healthcare: Include all previous jobs or volunteer work you have undertaken that were based in the healthcare sector.

10. Are you registered with a regulating body?: A simple yes or no question, if you have a pin number or unique registration number with any professional governing body (but especially the NMC) you should tick yes. If you are a student nurse who has just finished your course and are awaiting your pin number, you may select yes providing you know of no reasons why your pin number may not be issued.

11. Enter your PIN number: This isn’t compulsory but it’s advisable because it shows the employer that you are a registered candidate ready to prove your eligibility for the role.

12. Your requirements: It’s important that you complete this section of your profile honestly and accurately. When selecting a salary range, choose one that is appropriate for band of job you will be applying for. It’s no good selecting £30,000 - £35,000 if you’re applying for a band 5 nursing job because that’s simply unrealistic (unfortunately!).

You may select as many job status options as you are willing to consider, and be realistic when choosing whether or not you are willing to relocate. Selecting your desired locations is the chance for you to tell the employer the areas of the country you are looking to work in. Hold down the ‘ctrl’ button to select more than one option. Again, be realistic about how far you can travel every day and be sure to take into account whether you will have to use public transport or not.

Enter the type of job you want in the final field of this section using as many descriptive words as are relevant. For example, don’t just write “Staff Nurse” try something like “Part Time Community Oncology Staff Nurse”

13. Your CV: This is your most important asset in the job application process, and you should update it each time you make an application. Keep a copy of your CV on your computer and then upload it to each time you make a amendment. The key to a great nursing or midwifery CV is to be clear and concise while giving the employer a enough information to answer their questions.

There is plenty of advice on about how to put together a CV, and you can find some of it below by following these links:

Build your nurse CV - step by step guide

How to write your nursing CV as a third year student nurse applying for your first nursing job

How to write a nursing CV for a tough job market

Top 5 things a nursing recruiter wants to see on your CV

Once you’ve put together what you think is a great CV, imagine yourself in the employer’s situation receiving your CV for the first time and try to answer these questions in less than 5 seconds each (obviously you know the answers in your head, but try to only read the answers from what you’ve written).

- Do you have an NMC / ABA registration number?

- What is your email address and phone number?

- What is your current / most recent job title?

- Is your recent experience relevant to the job you’ve applied for?

- Do you have the correct CPD qualifications required for this role?

- Do you have the essential experience and qualifications we specified?

- How many of the desirable experience and qualifications criteria that we specified do you have?

If you find you can’t quickly pinpoint the information in your CV that answers those questions, then you might need to think about adjusting the layout and highlighting the parts of your CV which do answer the questions.

There is no set order to a CV, so if you want to you can put your most recent job title and description of the role right at the top beneath your name and contact details. This is a good tactic for attracting the attention of the employer because they can immediately get a clear understanding of your recent experience and level of responsibility.

Covering letter

A covering letter is one of the first things an employer will see when your application arrives by email, so make sure you use it to your advantage and grab their attention. It’s not a compulsory part of your application, in fact, you can't complete the covering letter until you’re about to apply for one particular job. When you click the apply button beneath a job advert, that's when the cover letter box will appear.

You should restrict the length to two paragraphs only. Use the first one to explain why you want this job, how you would be suited to it and the skills you have that would be relevant. Use the second to tell the employer your current or most recent job and the responsibilities that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Once you’ve filled in the covering letter you then click the submit button and that’s your application sent straight away. It goes by email directly to the person at the company or agency who posted the vacancy. They will be sent your CV, covering letter and details of your career profile all in one email. Your contact details are at the top of that email, and are taken from your career profile so be sure they are up to date before you apply!