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New year, new job - how you can stand out from the other nursing candidates

New year, new job - how you can stand out from the other nursing candidates

A new year demands a new start and if you're not happy with your current nursing role, it might be time to make a change in that department. Although the job market has improved considerably recently, it's still pretty tough out there and therefore very competitive.

Your CV, covering letter and interview must stand out to employers if you hope to land a new job, so here are a few tips on how to do just that.

Covering letter

There is no point sending out hundreds of generic covering letters, as your whole application will be ignored as a result. Instead, spend a little bit more time and only apply for the jobs you really want. When you've seen something you want to go for, tailor the covering letter specifically. Mention the role you're applying for, where you saw the advert and which organisation you're applying to. It's also a good idea to do some research where you want to work for, as you'll be expected to have some knowledge about the organisation or hospital, especially if it comes to the interview stage.

Some applicants even go so far as to do research into whoever the recruiting manager is. You never know, perhaps they went to the same university as you? If so, use this in your covering letter to establish a positive relationship early on. Any homework you do will just show how keen you are.

Remember, your covering letter should only be one page long, so it needs to be clear, concise and it should represent you as a professional nurse. Don't put any unnecessary information into the letter, as recruiters don't have a lot of time and won't put up with any waffling. In addition, don't make the letter too personal, recruiters don't want to know if your aunt just died or how desperate you are for a new job and such information. 

CV

As mentioned above, recruiting managers don't have a lot of time to look at your application. In fact, they'll probably only browse it for a few seconds before deciding whether they're interested in you or not. For this reason, you need to ensure the important information is clearly marked. Ideally, your CV will also only be a page long, so try to keep everything as concise as possible. Moreover, the language should be active, not passive.

Although it is not necessary, some people like to mention their hobbies and interests on their CVs. This is a good idea (if you have room), as it gives you a personality and provides the recruiter with some additional information about you. For example, those who are into playing sports tend be good at teamwork and those who are into creative hobbies will likely have a good attention to detail. Soft skills like these are almost as important as your qualifications, so it's a good idea to work them into your application if you can.

Other things to include in your application

References are always a good idea and if you're going to include them, you should try to write down three different ones. Furthermore, you should always include a reference from your last job, even if you didn't get on with your boss - it looks bad and suspicious if you don't. Remember that a reference doesn't always have to be a manager, it could be a colleague instead, as long as they worked closely with you. However, the references should always be professional, not personal, so don't write down your best friend's name unless they worked with you.

Some applicants also like to include a section which outlines how they meet the selection criteria and it is often a good place to include your research on the organisation. For example, if the facility you're applying to is undergoing a major redevelopment, you could reference how you've worked in a similar environment before (if that's the case). Not only does it show you're perfect for the job, it also shows you've done your homework and are therefore serious about the role.

The interview

If you manage to make your application stand out successfully, it's likely you'll land an interview. Whilst this is an achievement in itself, the battle isn't quite over yet. They'll probably be interviewing quite a few people, so you'll still need to make sure you make the best impression. On the run up to the interview date, you should continue to do your research about who you might be working for. It's likely they'll be questions relating to the organisation or hospital during the process, so make sure you don't get caught out here.

You also need to make sure you look respectable. Remember as a nurse you want to come across as healthy, friendly and smart to your patients and the same can be said of your interviewers. Ensure you dress well on the day and try to keep any makeup or jewellery to a minimum. Then you just need to make sure you smile, keep a good level of eye contact (not too much or too little) and give a good strong handshake to the interviewers. 

When you leave you might want to consider handing over a clean copy of your CV, a list of references, letters of recommendation and any training and licensing documentation you have. This will ensure the interviewers remember who you are and have all the information they need.

Of course the most important thing to remember when searching for a new nursing job is to remain positive. Yes the market may be tough but you are bound to have something that makes you stand out - you just need to realise what it is and promote it to prospective employers. If you keep at it, your dream job is likely to come along sometime soon. Good luck!

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