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  • 22 August 2013
  • 3 min read

How to prioritise your nursing CV with compelling information

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  • Matt Farrah CEO

A progressive career means a lengthy CV - how do you condense all this information down to emphasise the highlights? Read on to find out how.

In a study released today, recruiters spend just six seconds scanning your CV to decide if you are a potential match for the job!

The study showed that almost 4.8 of those six seconds are spent looking at the following:

• name

• current title & employer

• previous title & employer

• previous start and end dates

• current start and end dates

• education

As you can see from the list a recruiter is primarily interested in your current job and previous employment experience, as well as your education.

While this study was not specifically related to the healthcare or nursing sectors, I think it’s easy to understand the trend that’s being illustrated here, which is that you have a minimal amount of time to show a recruiter that you have both the experience and education to fulfil the position.

So how do you condense down a career’s worth of experience into a maximum of 2 sides of A4 paper to make a CV that will catch a recruiter’s eye? 

The answer is there is no simple answer, nor is there one solution that will suit everyone but there several points you can consider.

1. Put your current job title, employer and employment dates at the top of your CV – directly underneath your name and contact details. If you’re applying for a job that’s similar to your currently one or a similar role at a higher level, then the fact that you’re already working in a related job will work in your favour. Go into detail about the responsibilities you manage and whether you have expanded or developed the role in any way.

2. Continue your employment history in reverse chronological order from there onwards (most recent first). If you have a nursing career history that is several jobs long, your most recent jobs are going to be of most interest to a recruiter.

A recruiter will value clear, informative lists of responsibilities, competencies and accomplishments, so you can add in professional development achievements relevant to the role if you like.

3. Don’t give too much space over to your education history unless it is relevant. First and foremost you are a nurse, so the professional development achievements you have will probably supersede your original nursing qualification.

That’s not to say you should omit details of your nursing course, you definitely shouldn’t, but there’s probably not a great deal of requirement for lots of words about every module you studied and every placement you undertook. Only include that level of detail if it’s directly relevant to the job you’re going for now.

4. Don’t include too much detail about any past jobs before you became a nurse. Of course you can mention your previous jobs if you feel they are relevant and if they help a recruiter to understand your history, but don’t go into too much detail about them.

Your nursing career probably began when you became a student nurse, so anything before that is less significant and by reducing the priority given to it you can create space for the facts that are important.

5. Optimise the layout for maximum effect and visual appeal. This doesn’t mean add lots of colour or images (I say this just in case.. because we have seen it done!), it means make the layout inviting to the eye.

Use bullet points and lists instead of sentences where possible and ensure there is enough white space around each section to give the reader a clear idea of what they are looking at.

Solid paragraphs of text can be very off putting for a reader that is only scanning your CV.If you can write your CV with a recruiter in mind, you are more likely to be successful with your job application.

Think about the questions they will be asking as they read your CV, and do your best to answer them as you go.

As always, you can find all current nursing vacancies on

About the author

  • Matt Farrah CEO

Helping healthcare organisations attract and retain the best staff so they can deliver great patient care. I'm motivated by supporting the people who care to do the job they've chosen. Advice

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  • Matt Farrah CEO

About the author

  • Matt Farrah CEO

Helping healthcare organisations attract and retain the best staff so they can deliver great patient care. I'm motivated by supporting the people who care to do the job they've chosen.

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