If you're stuck on how to write your CV to get your first job read our guide to help make your application successful. Matt Farrah

It can be daunting when it comes to applying for your first nursing job, and you may feel as if you don’t have enough experience to completely fill a CV. It can be as simple as making the most of the useful experience you do have, and not worrying about anything you don’t have. The key thing to remember is that every newly qualified nurse is starting with no previous experience of working as a registered nurse, but you can draw upon the experience you do have from your course, placements and previous jobs and / or education.

CV header at a glance

It’s important that at the beginning of the CV you state when you graduate, the title of your qualification, and when you expect to receive your NMC Pin number (if known). This information immediately validates your CV, and your eligibility as a candidate to apply for a nursing job. You’d be surprised how many people try and apply for nursing jobs with no experience or qualifications in nursing, and while the majority are filtered out, there are inevitably some that get through.

In addition to this you also need your name, address, phone number and email address right at the top. If you moved to the UK to train as a nurse, it’s important to state whether your current visa allows you to work here when you qualify.

These are all quick facts a recruiter will look for when they first scan your CV, and will often determine whether they slow down to actually read what you’ve written in the more detailed sections.

You do have experience

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because this is your first job you don’t have any experience. You definitely do have experience, you just need to highlight the most relevant parts.

It all depends on what type of nursing job you’re applying for as to which parts of your experience you choose to highlight. Your placement experience is some of the most valuable you can draw upon because it’s recent, it’s in the environment to which you’re applying and it’s how you gained the practical skills you will be using every day in your new job. Make sure you make a big deal of a placement in the nursing speciality you’re applying for, and draw attention to the learning outcomes you achieved and why you feel so passionate about that area of nursing.

The key to making your experience relevant to the job you’re applying for is research who exactly they are looking for to fill the role. This is easier to write if you have the person specification and job description in front you at the time you’re writing your nurse CV. Think of the person spec. as a checklist of skills you should be able to demonstrate the learning and implementation of. For example, if they are looking for evidence of effective communication, think of a placement environment where you were instrumental in the effective communication of the ward / environment. If the job you’re going for is ward based, then try to use as many examples as you can that are ward based. Equally, if you’re applying for a nursing home setting, then use any community placement experience you have.

Make sure you draw particular attention to your third year placements and the learning outcomes you achieved. This should include the development of your ability to manage a varying caseload under pressure, to respond quickly and accurately when required to do so, and of course your ability to both manage and participate as an effective team member. Your management placement should definitely get a mention as it’s one of the most important when making the transition from student nurse to registered nurse.

If you can give a concise but accurate view of your skill base, and relate to those skills detailed in the person specification, you’ll definitely be ahead of the majority that just send off a standard nursing CV.

Even if you are really struggling to find an example of a situation that fulfills part of the person specification, you can still draw on your experience prior to starting your nursing course. All experience is good experience as long as you relate it to the role you’re going for. You can also include a small amount of reflection here that indicates you have developed since then and how your nurse training has influenced your development.

Think ahead for the future

If you have space (or if not, you can still put this in your cover letter) you should include a concise paragraph about how you see yourself fitting into the role, what professional development you would look to complete and an overview of your personal development goals should you be offered the position.

It’s important to let the employer know that you are someone who is committed and dedicated to the development of their skills, knowledge and abilities. You may have already talked about this above in your CV, but you can still outline how you see your skill set improving and how this would contribute to your effectiveness as a member of the clinical staff.

Once you’ve taken the time to perfect the CV and cover letter, be sure to double check for spelling mistakes and any inaccuracies. When you’re completely happy with it, send it off. Having taken all the effort to make such a great application, you definitely want to make a note of the email address you sent it to or the company advertising the vacancy, the job title and the reference. Then be sure to follow it up if you’ve not heard anything. It may sometimes be the case that only successful applicants receive a response, but you should be able to request confirmation that your application has been received.