Get that interview

RCN careers coach Julie Watkins considers how to make the best first impression on a potential new employer

Your supporting statement

Employers use the information in supporting statements to shortlist candidates, so make it easy for them to see that you have the relevant skills, knowledge and experience for the job.  

Allow yourself plenty of time to write your statement and use the information you have to get the statement right. Always refer to the job advert, the person specification, the job description and any information you have on the company or organisational values.

Think of the person specification as a checklist for your supporting statement. Candidates who demonstrate they are the best or closest match will be the ones shortlisted for the next stage of recruitment.

Top tips

Include an introduction

A strong, punchy and meaningful introduction to start your supporting statement can engage the reader, encouraging them to want to find out more.  

Get the order right

Write your supporting statement so it follows the same order as the person specification as much as possible.

Use headings

These will make it clear what part of the person specification you’re addressing and will make life easier for the person shortlisting. It will also help avoid the risk of them accidentally missing something.

Give examples

Most health care employers want to see practical examples or evidence that show you meet the criteria and competencies outlined in the job advert and person specification. Wherever possible, make your examples directly relevant to the duties, responsibilities or tasks listed in the job description. Find out more about job applications.

On average an employer will take just over eight seconds to read a CV, so make yours stands out from rival candidates

Your CV
Have an up-to-date CV to present to prospective employers at job fairs and to send speculatively to employers who you’d like to work for.  Remember:

  • tailor it to the role you’re applying for 
  • be concise (no more than two pages) 
  • include a key skills and achievements section
  • check your spelling and grammar.

Want feedback on your CV?

If you’d like your CV checked, email it to career.service@rcn.org.uk, along with your full name and membership number or postcode.

Please include a brief summary of your current career situation and what types of roles or areas you’re interested in applying for.

You can also get feedback via telephone coaching. Phone 0345 772 6100 to book an appointment.

Take a look at sample CVs for nursing staff and students, where you can also find more details on our CV feedback service.  

Visiting a potential employer

Arranging an informal visit can help you get real insight into the workplace you’re considering and help you work out if this is the right role for you.

It’s also a way to build and develop new networks, contacts and rapport with staff who could potentially interview you.

However, you need to be prepared to visit; research the employer and prepare questions or issues to talk about.

Consider what you want to get out of the visit and specifically which setting or area you want to spend time in. 

Remember that even though it might be called an informal visit, the employer will be watching carefully to see how you conduct yourself.

Simple things like thanking someone for showing you around, holding the door open for others, or smiling at patients, can make a big difference. 

Find out more about informal visits.

Further information

Find out more about the RCN careers service.


Interview by Sharon Palfrey.

Read next...