Writing a CV when you’re an experienced nurse can be a balancing act of giving enough information about your career while maintaining a relatively short document. In this article we show you what you can prioritise, and what can be left out. About Matt Farrah - follow me on Google+

Over the course of your nursing career you will build up quite a portfolio of professional development achievements, experience and competencies and it can be quite a juggling act to present all the relevant information in a logical order on your a CV. The ideal length for a nursing CV is always hotly debated, but we recommend not more than 2 sides of A4 regardless of the length of your nursing career. Any more than that and it can really discourage a nursing employer who just simply wants to know if you have the qualifications and experience to do the nursing job they’re recruiting for.

Your nursing CV has one specific job to do and that is to convince the employer reading it that you’re suitable for the job so they should definitely offer you an interview. It doesn’t need to be an exhaustive record of every singly achievement and every previous job, but it does need to showcase your nursing skills in an accessible way.

It’s all about the present

There isn’t much that upsets a time-poor recruitment officer more than receiving a CV from a very obviously experienced nurse that begins in chronological order. It sounds obvious, but your most recent nursing job is more relevant to this job application than the one you did when you first qualified, so the general rule of CVs is always most recent first (reverse chronological order).

You aren’t required to submit a full and complete history of all your past employments and qualifications on a CV, if the employer requires this they will usually ask you to complete their own application form, so you can use the space on your CV to draw the attention to the nursing experience you have that is relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Don’t worry about including previous employments before you were a nurse, especially if they were several years ago. Plenty of very experienced nurses came into nurse training after they had worked in other industries, and while that employment experience can be valuable it’s not necessarily essential for your current nursing CV. Transferable skills are obviously important and can be relevant across many different professions, but listing every single job you ever did starting with your first ever saturday job isn’t going to be the most efficient use of space on your nursing CV.

Use the job advert and the job description

While you should ideally update your nursing CV on a regular basis, the reality is you will probably be updating it when you’ve seen a job advertised that you want to apply for. In many ways that works just as well as updating it regularly because you have a couple of resources you can use to stimulate your thoughts for updating the CV - and those are the job description and person specification included in the job advert.

When you read the job description and the person specification you should get a detailed insight into the ideal candidate for the job, the skills that person will have and the range of experience they will need. The key is then to take that information and identify as many of the criteria as possible in yourself by highlighting them on your CV. I don’t literally mean take a highlighter and turn them pink, I mean rearrange your CV so the employer’s eye is drawn to the qualities you have that they’re looking for.

This could mean that underneath your name and contact details on your CV you could create an ‘essential skills’ section, or that your professional development achievements go at the top instead. The only set rules about the layout of any nursing CV are as follows, as long as you stick to these, anything else is up to you:

1 - Your full name must be the first line of the CV.

2 - Your address, phone numbers and email address must come next.

3 - You must include current employment with a description of the role, previous relevant employment, education, qualifications and professional registration.

4 - Employment history should be presented in reverse chronological order.

5 - Explain gaps in your employment history - including family breaks, travelling and any other time you took a break from your career.

6 - You must not make any false claims about experience of qualifications you do not posses.

7 - Use a clear, easy to read font ensuring that you use layout tools such as paragraphs and bullet points to make reading it easier.

You can find more advice about writing nursing CVs in these articles:

How to write a nursing CV for a tough job market

How to update your nursing CV for the new year

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

Top 20 Nurse CV Tips

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