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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, engaging 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.

Need inspiration? See our CV examples:


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.

Contact Information

There's no need to write 'CV' at the top. Just have your name, contact address, contact telephone number(s) and e-mail. You can choose whether to include your branch of nursing and your NMC pin if applicable. (E.g. Adult nurse | NMC pin: 12A3456B)

Personal Summary / Personal Statement

This should be a short paragraph to open up your CV and tell your prospective employer a bit about yourself. Remember first impressions go a long way. Wherever possible, always tailor this section to the job you’re going for. Most people include their personal qualities, a summary of their experience / career history, and their career objectives / goals.

Some of the most common terms used within healthcare CVs are: "compassionate," "caring," "hard working," "good communicator," and, "works well individually and as part of a team." They're all great descriptors, but if you use them, give a specific example to add depth, context and meaning. 

Key Skills and achievements

We recommend putting a key skills and achievements section next, where you would bullet point 4 - 5 of your key skills and/or achievements. 

Try to tailor this section to the type of post you’re going for. Think of the things you've accomplished or the skills that you have that are the most relevant and will be the most attractive to your prospective employer.

Employment and experience

Starting with the most recent, list your employment history, with a few bullet points about your responsibilities, skills and achievements. 

You don't have to list all the jobs you've ever had. If you need to save space you can summarise experience from older jobs. E.g. "Prior to 2007, held a variety of different roles within settings such as surgical, A&E and elderly medicine, picking up skills in..." 

Prioritise what will be the most relevant to the job you're going for. 

Education and Qualifications

Starting with the most recent, list your qualifications, including dates and the educational institute or awarding body.

If you have done a lesser known qualification or international qualification, you may want to explain briefly what the qualification entailed, or list an equivalent qualification for comparison.

Professional Activities and Training

Here you can list training days, courses or study days you've attended, articles published, membership of professional organisations or networks, etc. You don't have to list absolutely everything. Prioritise the most recent and the most relevant. You can summarise the less recent ones to save space. For example, "Prior to 2014, have attended over 20 study days in areas such as catheter care, venepuncture, IV therapy...."

Additional information 

Write a sentence or two about your interests or hobbies. Don't be afraid to be original. You can also include information about whether you hold a driving license, your LinkedIn account if you have one, if you speak any other languages, or anything else you think your prospective employer would find useful or interesting.


Consider listing a referee or two with their contact details. Alternatively you could write, "available upon request."

Personal qualities 

Self aware 
Role model
 Quick thinking

Action Words 


Need us to check to your CV?

Don't forget you can have your CV checked by the RCN 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.