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CV advice from RCN careers service

Published on: 14 Jul 2020

RCN careers adviser shares her tips on how to make your CV work for your next nursing job application.

CV advice from the RCN careers service

RCN careers adviser Julie Watkins says that a good CV is a way to showcase your skills, experience and knowledge to a potential employer.

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Although many nursing job applications involve completing an application form, it is useful to create a CV that you can add to your portfolio. You can present this to prospective employers at events such as job fairs and send it speculatively to employers you are interested in working for.  

Starting a CV may seem overwhelming if you have never needed one before, but a good CV can be a useful tool for reflecting on your career, experience, qualifications and key achievements and can help increase your confidence and self-esteem as you recognise what you have to offer.

On average, an employer takes about eight seconds to read a CV. You therefore need to tailor your CV to the role you are applying for and make it stand out from rival candidates.

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Here's how to make your CV work to secure you your next nursing job.

Keep your CV up to date:
Once you have written your CV, make sure it is up to date by keeping track of your competencies, experience, roles and achievements. This can also help you to prepare during the recruitment process, from application to interview.
Tailor your CV:
Successful CVs are logical, accurate and concise. Most importantly, they are tailored to the people reading them. Making your CV stand out and marketing yourself effectively will demonstrate your suitability for the job.
Personal profile:
Your opening statement or personal profile should be about 150 words long and include your relevant skills, qualities and experience. Include qualities that are topical at present, such as resilience, approachability and positivity. Are you passionate about empowering patients to take ownership of their health and well-being? If this is relevant to the role, include it in your opening statement.  
Skills and achievements:
Following your opening statement, you can add a section on 'skills and achievements'.  Emphasise your suitability straight away to market yourself, and highlight any relevant previous experience so that it stands out.

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CV length:
Although there is no official rule, ideally your CV should be two pages. When a CV exceeds this, the quality and suitability of your experience and skills can get lost. Keep it focused and draw on relevant achievements. For example, is that role you had 15 years ago really relevant? This is about quality not quantity.
Spelling and grammar: 
It is essential to take the time to check your spelling and grammar. You want to create a good first impression with your CV, and poor spelling or grammar can let you down. You can use spellcheck or ask a friend, colleague or careers adviser to check your CV for any grammatical errors. 


For more tips and samples of CVs from the RCN careers service visit

This is an abridged version of the article How to turn a CV into your personal marketing tool that was first published on Nursing Standard.

Read more careers articles on Nursing Standard