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CV writing for student and newly qualified nurses


Writing a CV can be difficult at the best of times, but if you’re applying for your first ever nursing job it can be even trickier to know where to start. 

If you're a student or newly qualified nurse looking for advice on how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, the RCN's Career Service can help.

Your first nursing CV

Many students and newly qualified nurses worry that they won’t have adequate experience or skills to impress employers and compete with rival candidates. 

First of all, you have got experience, and lots of it. Think about all you’ve learnt at university through your lectures, assignments, research, presentations, studying and your dissertation. Then think about all the knowledge gained during your variety of placements, the coaching and support you received from your colleagues and mentors, and the skills, competencies, and lessons learnt first-hand whilst caring for your patients. What’s more, all this knowledge is fresh in your mind and ready to be put into practice. 

You will bring a positive and enthusiastic approach, along with passion, determination and an eagerness to learn; an asset to any employer. 

There are so many things you could decide to talk about, highlight and showcase within your CV. Let's look at some of them:

Academic and university related achievements

  • Assignments you got high marks on 
  • Assignments or projects that are relevant to the job you’re going for. 
  • Your dissertation. Is this relevant to the job you’re going for? How would you use your findings to improve or enhance your practice now? 
  • Did you write for the university newsletter? 
  • Did you act as a student representative or lead/sit on any university social groups?

Placements achievements

  • What skills did you learn?
  • What competences did you complete?
  • What knowledge did you gain?
  • What did you excel at or what did you feel good at?
  • What did you enjoy the most or what made you feel the most passionate?
  • Think of a time when you got good feedback from colleagues, your mentor, or patients.

Work experience

  • What skills have you acquired in any previous jobs?
  • Think about your transferable skills (skills gained in a non healthcare role that you could be relevant to a nursing role)

Life events / Voluntary

  • Have you organised any events?
  • Have you done any fundraising or charity work?
  • Have you had to care for a relative?
  • Have you had to manage a personal project? I.e. doing house renovations, 
  • Have you done any awards, for example the Duke of Edinburgh?
  • Have you chaired or sat on any committees?
  • Are you a member of any organisations or clubs?

Getting involved with the RCN

  • Have you attended congress? 
  • Have you attended any of your local branch meetings? 
  • Are you a member of any RCN forums or networks (If not, why not join now?) 
  • Have you attended any RCN events? Did you get involved in any campaigns? 

Back your skills up

Avoid the temptation to simply write, “Learnt excellent communication skills,” It’s better to quantify a statement like this:  “Excellent communicator, skilled at adapting voice, tone and language to suit the age, background, capacity and communication needs of the patient."

Not yet qualified?

If you’re applying for a post before you’ve qualified or got your results, you can include your expected completion date and consider including your predicted grade. You could do this in your opening statement if you wanted. E.g. “Final year student nurse, due to qualify in July with a predicted grade of 2:1.”

Preparing for your first job

Hints and tips on how to prepare for your first ever nursing job.

Format

There is no set format for a UK CV, but you should make sure your CV is easy to read and logical in layout. If you’re not sure what layout or format to use, you could adopt the format below. You can also use this Example Student Nurse CV for ideas, as well as reading our general online advice on CV writing.

Contact Information

There is no need to write 'CV' at the top. Just have your name, contact address, contact telephone number(s) and e-mail. Include your branch of nursing and your NMC pin if you’ve already registered.

Personal Summary / Personal Statement

This should be a short paragraph to open up your CV and tell your prospective employer a bit about you. Always tailor this section to the job you’re going for.  You could include:

  • Your personal qualities (See personal qualities table for ideas)
  • A brief overview of your academic and/or professional experience/history
  • What you think you'd bring to the role
  • Your career objective

Some of the most popular expressions used within CVs are, "hard working," "good communicator," and, "works well individually and as part of a team." There is nothing wrong with using these terms, but obviously the more original you are, the more your CV will stand out. 

Key Skills and achievements

We recommend putting a key skills and achievements section where you bullet point 4 -5 of your key skills and achievements to show off your best bits. 

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.

Placement experience

Starting with the most recent, list your placements and include a few bullet points for each to show what you learnt and/or which skills were acquired.

Employment History

Starting with the most recent, include your employment history with a few bullet points about your duties and skill. Include the ones that are the most relevant to the job you're going for. If you've had healthcare related jobs (e.g. HCA, support worker, etc) then this will be attractive to employers.

If you've never had a job within healthcare, don't worry. Whether you've worked in retail, catering or finance, you will have probably picked up all sorts of transferable skills such as verbal and written communication skills, dealing with complaints, using initiative, prioritising your workload, working to deadlines, customer service skills, teamwork experience, leadership skills and more.

You don't have to list all the jobs you've ever had. Focus on the ones that are the most relevant to the job you're going for now.

Education 

Starting with the most recent, list your qualifications. With regards to your nursing qualification, include the name of your university, your exact course name (so including your branch of nursing) and date of completion / expected date of completion. 

You could list your college and school qualifications and any other previous qualifications you have, e.g., previous degrees, NVQs/SVQs. etc. 

Professional Activities

In this section list any professional activities, such as training days you've been on, courses you've attended, articles published, events attended, and if you're a member of any professional organisations or networks. Remember the RCN is a professional body so you can list that you're a member if you want. If you're interested, why not join some of our free forums and professional networks?

Additional information 

Write a sentence or two about your interests or hobbies. Don't be afraid to be original. You can include any extra information here such as whether you hold a driving license, your linked in account if you have one, if you speak any other languages, etc.

References 

Include one clinical reference and one academic.

Personal qualities 

Passionate
Motivated
Approachable
Responsive
Supportive
Mindful
Proactive
Self aware 
Confident
Determined
Assertive
Role model
Resilient
Positive
Flexible







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Students: Thinking about your career

As a student nurse, you can use this resource for guidance on choosing and applying for your first role as a registered nurse.

Transferable skills *

Find out why they're important and how to use them to get your next job.