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RCN Careers: applications

CV Writing

The first step in your recruitment journey

Working in the health care profession you have access to a world of opportunities. The first step in the recruitment journey is to demonstrate to a potential employer your skills, experience, attributes and suitability to shortlist you for a post.  The RCN Careers Service can offer you hints and tips on your CV and application.

Your CV

While many jobs ask you complete an application form, it’s also useful to create a CV that you can include in your portfolio and present to prospective employers or useful contacts. If you’re applying for jobs in the private sector or smaller companies then there may not be an application form, so a good CV is even more essential.

Successful CVs are logical, accurate and concise. Most importantly they’re tailored to the people reading them, so make sure you adapt yours accordingly wherever possible, matching it up to the job you’re applying for and using relevant keywords. There’s no perfect format for a CV but the layout is incredibly important. You want to ensure the reader can find out what they need to know; quickly and easily.

If you're not sure what formula to use for your CV,  follow the suggested layout below.

In addition, you can download our example CVs for some inspiration. See Nurse example CV,  HCA example CV and Student / newly qualified nurse example CV.

Personal details 

Put your name, address, preferred contact telephone number(s) and email address. There is no need to write "CV" at the top and you don't have to include your date of birth. 

Personal Statement

Here include a few sentences that summarise your personal and professional qualities and career objectives/goals. Terms like hard working, caring, compassionate and good communication skills are overused, so try and make yours original to stand out

Key skills and achievements

List 4 or 5 bullet points to summarise key achievements and skills in your career.


List your employment history beginning with the most recent. For each post held, include the date of employment, name of employer, job title, your responsibilities and your main achievements. If you have lots of previous jobs you don't have to list them all and could just summarise to save space.


Working backwards chronologically list the qualifications and courses you’ve done.

Professional Activities 

Here list any events or training days you’ve attended, membership of professional bodies, and any RCN activities you have taken part in. Include any articles published, membership of professional groups and papers delivered at conferences.

Other Activities

Include some extra information about your interests outside work, whether you hold a driving license, if you have a linkedin account, etc. 


Length - Ideally no more than 2 sides of A4

Layout - Clear, logical, flows nicely, easy to read

Presentation - Organised, neat, uncluttered, professional

Tailor - Make it relevant to the job you’re applying for

Review - Use spellcheck and get at least 2 other people to proof read it

Action words - Try to use ‘action’ words, to bring your CV to life. Attention-grabbing terms like 'identified', 'created' or 'initiated' really demonstrate to an employer that you are able to put your skills into practice. Our Careers guide, “Applying for jobs” has more information and examples of action words.

Need us to check to your CV?

Don't forget you can have your CV checked by our Careers Service. There are two options:

CV check and feedback via e-mail  - E-mail your CV to the Careers Service along with your full name, membership number and a brief summary of your situation and career objectives. We will check your CV and give written feedback via e-mail within 5 working days.

Telephone appointment - If you would rather discuss the feedback on your CV over the telephone with a careers adviser, call RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100 to book an appointment.

You may also want to see our online advice on Job applications, Transferable skills and Interview skills.

Want your CV checked?

Send your CV to and include:

  • Your full name and membership no.
  • A brief summary of your situation and career objectives

Their help was absolutely beneficial to me and I believe others can benefit as well. With the help and advice I got, I recently moved from a band 6 post to a band 7.

RCN member 2015