Career advice

Here's how to make your CV work harder

Sell your self more effectively on paper through by following this simple guide

Many applications for nursing posts will be through website forms, but writing and updating CVs is a useful aid to a job search, according to experts in nursing recruitment.

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Julie Watkins from the careers department of RCN member support services says that members find a CV useful in a variety of situations. ‘Sometimes they are used in addition to an application form, if a nurse wants to be more proactive, to arrange shadowing or while networking, or to leave with a potential employer at an event like a jobs fair,’ she says.

Many members take up the RCN service to have CVs proofread by the careers department.The advice Ms Watkins gives to members includes tailoring the personal statement to each job and using active words such as initiated and launched for impact. The document should also follow a logical format, with experience arranged in date order.

Anna McGuinness, senior nurse for education, learning and development at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, which employs around 3,500 nurses, says applicants need to emphasise experience they have, backed up with evidence and examples.

Always tailor your personal statement for each job application.

Use active words to give extra impact.

Check the same font and font size are used throughout.

Try to keep the CV to two pages maximum.

Ensure that details such as personal email addresses are suitable for professional applications.

Always check spelling and grammar.

Ask someone else to proofread the CV to check for mistakes.

‘What makes an application stand out is when it is personalised to the job they are applying for and makes it clear what experience they have,’ says Ms McGuinness.

Students at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London, have two sessions during their final year on applying for jobs. These lessons include advice on writing a CV and completing an application forms.

Careers consultant to the faculty Sabrina Duggan says: ‘A key factor with the personal statement or application form is to get across why you want to work for that particular trust. Recruiters want to know that applicants have a specific reason, such as its values and aspirations are in line with their own. So read the trust’s mission statement and have an idea of patient demographics.’

Creating a CV is not only for those who are seeking new careers. Ms Watkins says they can help nurses appreciate the experience and skills they have gained. ‘If a nurse has lost some confidence, it is a good exercise to create a CV to reflect on career history, experience and skills. When it is written down, members can realise they have so much to offer.’

Find advice on applying for jobs at RCN Bulletin Jobs fairs.

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