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  • 07 October 2011
  • 6 min read

How to write a nursing CV for a tough job market

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In this current job market you could be in the situation where you need to adjust your nursing CV to make the most of your transferable skills. In these 5 easy steps we show you how to update your CV and give you the best chance of being hired.

Every nurse who has ever applied for a job will know that crafting an excellent application is a time consuming and difficult process of updating your CV, writing your personal statement according to the person specification and compiling your most relevant experience to go into your covering letter.

However, in this current market there is the added challenge of fewer nursing job vacancies available and whether you are a newly qualified nurse or looking for your first band 6 position, you could be faced with applying for a vacancy you may not otherwise have chosen or don’t feel you have the experience for.

By re-thinking how you present your nursing experience, job responsibilities or placement experience (if you’re newly qualified), and by highlighting the transferable skills you have you can improve the chances of getting that elusive next nursing job.

Even if you can’t find a vacancy that you think exactly suits your skills or desires, you have to remember that every nursing job gives you difference experiences and responsibilities, all of which will be beneficial as you move forward towards the nursing job you really want.

1. Start from scratch

Open your old nursing CV and keep it there on your computer, but then open a new document because you’re going to start from scratch with a little copy and paste when required.

You will always need your name, address, contact details and NMC pin at the top of your CV. This is a must, no recruiter is going to spend time reading your CV if they can’t immediately see who you are and how to contact you. Giving your NMC registration pin at the very top immediately identifies you as a registered nurse in the UK, and therefore a valid candidate.

2. Delve into your experience

Your current nursing job title, employer and length of service should be the very next thing on your CV.

Draw out key responsibilities, professional competencies and development courses from your current employment that are relevant to the nursing job you’re applying for.

You can use the person specification from the job as a kind of checklist to make sure you’re highlighting the right points. Identify the essential criteria required on the person specification and address those points first.

If you’re a newly qualified nurse replace this section with your nursing qualification and placement experience. Draw on learning experiences that are relevant to the job as well as listing all placements undertaken.

3. Competencies are key

Skills competencies are expensive to acquire in both time and money, which are in short supply for most employers, so if you have obtained a particular competency that is either on the essential or desired criteria for the job, then you should make sure it’s shown near the top of your CV.

If you acquired it in your current position, then add it to the section above, if not, create a professional skills section just underneath your current employment section.

This may seem like an odd way of ordering you CV, but it’s essential to grab the recruiters attention at the beginning of your CV, and by arranging the most relevant information first, you’re giving yourself the best possible chance.

4. You are first and foremost a Nurse

Many people come to nursing after one or more past careers, but now that you’re a nurse this should take pride of place on your CV. Next in order on your CV is your nursing qualification including the type of nursing course you did, details of placement experience (especially important if you’re young in your nursing career), and the skills you gained from it.

No nurse should forget what it was like to be a student, and showing your dedication to lifelong learning is definitely a positive attribute.

5. Skills from your past

While it’s important to make the most of your nursing experience, that doesn’t mean you should neglect the other careers or education you’ve had, after all, they’ve made you into the person you are today.

Add a small but detailed section about the skills you’ve learned and the qualities you have. Attributes such as patience, team working, communication, multi-tasking, accuracy, attention to detail are all vital in a nursing job, and it doesn’t matter how you learned those skills, as long as you can back up your claims with evidence.

Giving examples of where you learned these skills whether in a nursing environment or previous career is part of your personal statement so you only need to give an indication of the attributes you have.

In the situation where a recruiter has two very well qualified and experienced candidates competing for a position, this section could make the difference and swing it in your favour.

Crafting a nursing CV that will be truly effective and successful for you is a time consuming process, but as with many thing in life the more you put in the more you get out of it.

With a truly great nursing CV that reflects every aspect of why you’re perfect for the job, the recruiter will already have a positive opinion of you formed in their mind, the interview will simply require you to affirm that opinion as well as provide more information.

If you want more information about any part of applying for a nursing job, check out our articles below:

A good cover letter can make or break your nursing job application

How to use your nursing course and placement experience in your first nursing job interview

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

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About the author

I believe people should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career.

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