- 09 December 2019
- 21 min read
Build your nurse CV - step by step guide
Discover exactly what needs to be in your nursing and care home manager CV. And then use our CV builder to create a professional CV document that you can use anywhere.
Topics covered in this guide
Part 1: CV WRITING TIPS
Part 2: CV FORMATTING TOOL (our CV builder)
To simplify this step-by-step guide to creating a successful CV, we’ve divided it up into two parts.
The first part is about what needs to be in your CV.
The second part is about formatting your CV.
For the first part, we surveyed experts.
For the second part, we created a CV building application for you to use for free... here’s a little more information on these two parts...
Part 1: CV writing tips: What you need to have in your CV
We’ve learned that generic advice on creating a CV isn’t enough for nurses and care home managers.
We discovered in a survey that many nurses and home managers were confused about what to put in their CV, and didn’t know how it should be laid out.
This is because many of you have worked in the NHS all your life and relied only on the NHS’ own information and websites to structure your career into words.
So, we spoke to dozens of top nursing and care home manager recruiters for their advice on what really matters to them when it comes hiring nurses and home managers.
We’ve condensed that advice down into 6 essential CV tips for you.
Part 2: CV formatting tool: Let us help you structure and lay your CV out professionally
We’ve created a bespoke CV building tool that means you don’t have to think about layout.
You can use it for free right here on Nurses.co.uk once you Join.
In this blog we’ll walk you through how to get started on our CV builder so you can create a professional CV in minutes: you simply add the words - we do the rest (the builder will set it out in a professional format so you can save it, print it out or use as a PDF anywhere).
We’ve put all of our experience of CV reviewing and the outcomes of a survey of hiring professionals into our CV builder. The formatted CV it creates fully meets the expectations and needs of recruitment leads, care home owners and other specialist hiring professionals in nursing and care.
PART 1: CV WRITING TIPS
i. Create a strong CV
Don’t get complacent!
With the shortage in nursing staff widely reported, you could be forgiven for seeing Nursing and Care as a candidate’s market.
However, recruiters told us that nursing / care home job competition is still fierce, with 70% of respondents describing the level of competition between candidates as "extremely high".
One respondent told us: “Although they're not all relevant to a vacancy, I can receive up to 30 applications for some roles. It's time consuming. I need to be able to quickly see if someone has the skills and experience I'm after”.
The three key stats from our survey were:
• Only 20% of recruiters consistently give all CVs a chance and read them in full before making a decision
• 30% of hiring managers discard CVs after the first few seconds
• Most recruiters spend less than a minute looking at each applicant
With such a competitive jobs market, it’s even more important to ensure that your CV is accurate, easily readable and contains all of the most relevant information.
So here’s how to deal with this:
• Be succinct
• In your professional overview include only your absolute key skills and personal qualities
• Use the language of your profession
• Make sure your contact details are correct
• Keep your CV up to date
• Include any important Continuing Professional Development skills you have learned
• Use your current job title and full employers name
ii. Formatting is key
Formatting is probably more important than you think
The way your CV is designed and laid out is one of the most important aspects that determine its success.
The feedback from recruiters was eye-opening...
• “When presented with an awfully laid out document, more than half of employers said they have ruled out candidates without even reading their CVs”
• “The majority reject a CV after just a few minutes, with 30% discarding CVs after the first few seconds”
• “Only 20% of recruiters consistently give all CVs a chance and read them in full before making a decision”
With this in mind, before doing anything else, the first step is ensuring that you create a document of the appropriate length, laid out correctly, that has all of the required sections in place.
If you choose to use our free CV builder (see below for this) we’ll take care of formatting for you!
iii. The information you need in your CV
No one has time to read an essay when hiring.
But do not be afraid to take the space to get all your skills across. Whilst succinctness is important, if you have it, flaunt it.
“A commonly seen bit of advice is that ‘your CV MUST be two pages’. On the contrary, if the information is relevant and the experience is extensive, a CV of two to four pages is fine.”
The more important thing to take away is that the space on your CV should be “full fat” – all the details you include should add value, and you should never be tempted to pad things out.
But whilst avoiding waffle and being succinct is important, keeping it short should not come at the expense of including pertinent information that will get you hired.
In truth, there's actually nothing complicated about CV writing.
Just think about who will be reading your CV.
These are the important elements any hiring manager, recruitment lead, care home owner etc will want from a nursing and care CV:
• Contact details
• NMC registration and PIN
• Core skills
• Employment experience
Here’s a little more detail about some of those points:
Put your full contact details clearly at the top of your CV. Remember ALL your details too (phone, address AND email).
Sounds simple, but some CVs don't put phone or email.
And we get told by recruiters that phone numbers can be entered incorrectly.
In our CV builder we call this the ‘Professional Overview’ and it sits very near the top of your CV.
Distill your Nursing experience into a few key terms. Use the language of your profession. Nursing is a highly specialised job. So use the words that best explain those specialised skills. This is what an employer needs to see.
Written well, your 'Core skills' will sell your CV within seconds of the hiring professional opening your CV.
In your Core skills section, there's no room for waffle. Dive straight in to specific words that detail your hard skills.
Recruitment is all about search. Hiring manager and recruiters will often find CVs by searching for them. (We have that service here on Nurses.co.uk.)
By planning your CV carefully you'll increase your chances of being found by a nursing recruiter who's using a CV search.
The best way to improve your chances of being found is to think carefully about the words that most accurately describe you.
Think about the words that best describe what you do, who you are and what experience you have. It’s likely they will be esoteric; words that might only mean something to someone who does your job.
That’s fine. It pin-points you to a would-be-hirer.
Essentially you need to describe your key duties, responsibilities, training, hard and soft skills. In as few words as possible!
Here's an example:
“Band 8. Nurse Manager. NHS and private sector. 14 years post qualification practice as an acute surgical Nurse in colorectal surgery, stoma care and tissue viability. Current management experience.”
Add all your jobs and go into detail
There's only one way to convey your employment record and that's in reverse chronology (current job first, your first ever job at the end of the list).
All you need to do is briefly describe your duties and responsibilities.
Again, use the words that you use at work to describe the activities you do.
Using our CV Builder you can add a separate entry for each job you've held through your career - it makes it easier to put it all together.
We would recommend you do this - add every job you have held to paint the full picture of you. For each job you should feel free to go into detail.
The hiring manager or recruiter wants to hear about your hard and soft skills, management experience, responsibilities and day-to-day duties. We allow up to 1000 characters for each job. So there's room to expand, explain and colour in the picture of yourself.
Again, use the words that you use at work to describe the activities you do.
For example, again using an RMN as a guide, it might be something like this:
“Currently employed as a Band 6 Registered Mental Nurse by the NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey. My duties are working with patients in a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). I've got 6 years experience of PICU, and my responsibilities include administering medication, restraint, checks and liaising with the rest of the health team including the consultant and psychiatric therapist. I manage the ward including the rota and staff numbers.”
iv. Keep it up to date
You can have a brilliant layout, but this still won’t help you if there’s a glaring omission from the document.
Your CV must be complete and up to date - no matter how great your level of experience, training or qualifications.
One respondent in our survey put it like this:
• “Sometimes you hear people say that employers are so desperate for Nurses that it does not matter if your CV is not up to date. This is not true, keeping your CV up to date is essential!”
For all the recruiters, missing information was the main frustration with CVs. Some informed us that they have received CVs that don’t even contain contact details! Think - completeness!
v. Hard and soft skills
If you are the only person applying for a job with a combination of technical and personal skills that the employing organisation needs, you will be in the driving seat.
Hard Skills are learned crafts and techniques that will be specific to your Nursing specialism.
Unsurprisingly, qualifications and experience were listed by every recruiter as the most important elements of a CV. They all stressed the importance of getting the full details of training and experience across.
Whatever professional training you have done, include it.
Obvious examples of hard skills in nursing are: prescribing, restraint techniques, wound dressing.
But the more detailed and esoteric you can be the better.
Nursing is highly specialised so detail your specialised techniques.
Soft skills are your personal attributes and are a combination of your communication skills, social conduct and emotional intelligence.
A full 90% of recruiters in our survey stressed the importance of demonstrating ‘soft skills’, such as communication or empathy, with half of respondents describing these elements as “essential”.
Nursing is a care profession.
Being technically gifted at your hard skills is great.
But your work experience needs to make it clear that presenting yourself as calm in a challenging, stressful situation is also important.
vi. Use real-life examples
The overarching message that we gleaned from recruiters was that listing experience is not as good as putting it into context and applying it to real world scenarios.
Some of our hiring experts summed this up neatly:
• “Give tangible examples of your experience in a Nursing environment”
• “When describing any previous roles/work experience make your CV patient focused. Discuss specific examples of any complex care or challenging situations and how they used their skill set to produce outcomes”
Several recruiters we spoke to said that CVs should be patient-focused when describing previous roles or past work experience.
• “Include specific examples of safeguarding knowledge, or examples when you provided outstanding levels of care/saw outstanding levels of care. It's really about knowing how to provide the best care for patient, so make sure to get that across.”
For those at the start of their career, where the training and experience is likely to be the same as many others, you must still demonstrate your leadership, teamwork and empathy with real world examples where you can.
PART 2: CV FORMATTING TOOL (our CV builder)
i. What our interactive CV builder is and how to get started
Our CV builder covers more than a template.
When starting their first CV, the majority of nurses and home managers and HCAs we surveyed told us they used an online template of some kind to help them structure things.
However, many lacked confidence in this method, relying on family and friends to help check their CVs over to ensure they flowed correctly.
In total, 71% of all the respondents felt that a CV builder would be a useful tool for them to use.
• “A CV builder would reduce some of the time-stress and self-questioning invested when compiling a CV”.
So, our CV builder is created specifically for you. Because it has set fields for you to complete it means you won't forget key details or leave any gaps.
Plus, you don’t need to be a designer. We had our professional designers here create it based on expert feedback from recruiters and hiring managers.
What’s more it’s…
• Fully mobile compatible - update it on-the-go on your phone
• Backed up - you can save it securely and store it here on Nurses.co.uk
• Available to you via your own login so you can update it at any time
• Completely free
ii. Join Nurses.co.uk
iii How to follow the step-by-step process
Below we show you what our CV builder looks like. In short, it will prompt you to fill in all the important information so you don’t forget key details or have any gaps. Easy.
iv. Keep adding experience, training, and skills through your career
v. Using your CV when job hunting
Nurses.co.uk has 1000s of jobs throughout the UK. If you’ve created your CV with us it takes one click to apply for any of them.
You can even upload it to other sites if you need to.
vi. Updating your CV when happily employed
Keep painting your portrait and keep it updated!
Once you have got your CV to “100%” (in our CV builder - which we call 'My CV') you can go further… yes… 200%.
You simply keep adding more information.
We recommend entering as much of your career profile as you can in your Employment experience. It will paint the full picture of you.
Plus, keep it updated throughout your career
A CV should always keep evolving, just as you do.
My CV (what we call our CV builder) is designed to make it easy for you to do that.
It’s always here on Nurses.co.uk, stored for you.
vii. Hide your CV when you’re not job hunting
And we make it really easy to hide it again too.
vii. What your CV will look like with our CV builder
Your personal statement could be the make or break of you getting the job - but how do you stand out against other candidates? Claire shares her tips and tricks to help you get writing! - By Claire Carmichael, Student Adult Nurse
Your personal statement could be the difference between getting your first nursing job and just missing out, so make sure yours is as good as it can be. - By Chloe Lawrence, Registered Mental Health Nurse
CV covering letter - your approach
The approach you take with your covering letter reflects your general approach to finding a new job: you’re selective and targeted.
After all, you’re a nurse, with a passion and learning for the job that very few others will have.
You don’t need to apply for 100s of jobs. You’re highly skilled and sought after.
You only need to apply for a few.
Therefore, you have time to make your considered job seeking work in your favour: you have the time to put a few lines in your cover letter that make it clear you’ve read the job ad and you have the skills and experience they’re looking for.
Spend a little bit more time and only apply for the jobs you really want and avoid generic cover letters.
CV covering letter - what you need to put in it
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
• your job title and current employer
• Your key nursing skills
• your PIN number (if you’re a registered nurse)
• your years of experience
• keep it very short, clear, concise
• make sure it represent you as a professional, qualified nurse
(Toppest tip: Don't put any unnecessary information into your cover letter, as recruiters don't have a lot of time and won't help your cause. Keep it REALLY brief.)
Here’s a little more information on Nurses.co.uk about writing your cover letter:
Here’s how to write a great cover letter that is a true reflection of you. - By Matt Farrah (me again!)
Preparing for interview
We go into detail about nursing job interview questions elsewhere, but you can start planning for it early on - during the CV writing and application stage.
It’s a good idea to do good research on where you want to work, as you'll be expected to have some knowledge about the organisation or hospital when it comes to the interview stage.
Plus, since you’re in the job market (and as a nurse you will be in demand) it’s the perfect time to stop and really consider where, and for whom, you want to work.
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?