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Applying for nursing and midwifery jobs

Nursing apps2353


The majority of nursing graduates will be looking for jobs with the NHS, although a number will go into roles in the private or voluntary sector.

Recruitment methods will vary, however all NHS applications are online with Trusts using their own application form or the standard NHS form; many will not require a CV or covering letter. For other sectors, a CV and covering letter may be the preferred method of application. 

Read our blog: Navigating the NHS job market: tips for a successful application

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The employer and role including example person spec

Your starting point is to carry out research into the organisation or Trust and clinical area you want to work in. Use the organisation's website, nursing and healthcare journals as well as local and national news services. 

During the recruitment process, you need to get across to the employer why it is you want to work for their particular organisation and in that specific role. Try and get your enthusiasm, personality and commitment across in your application.

NHS Trust applications

If you are applying to the NHS, incorporate the Trust’s values and behaviours into your application. They will be listed on Trust's website.

Current issues facing the profession

You will need to make reference to current issues in healthcare and nursing in your application, for example the impact of the Stafford enquiry and the Shape of Caring review. You can use this to demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Person specification

A person specification describes the personal attributes desired in a potential employee.

These attributes include qualifications, skills, experience, and knowledge, and sometimes personal attributes which a candidate needs to possess in order to perform the job duties.

Download a staff nurse specification PDF format

CV and covering letter including examples

CV and covering letter

Tailor your CV to the organisation and post you are applying to. Think about what you can say on your CV that will differentiate you from other candidates.

Send a covering letter with your CV explaining why you are applying to that organisation and that role as well as highlighting your skills and experience.


Application forms

You will be asked to complete a number of sections providing your contact details, educational and work history as well as a section called supporting information.

When entering details about your work history include information about work placements, volunteering and paid employment. Tailor the information to the job you are applying for as this will help your application stand out.

Supporting information section

The purpose of the supporting information section is to clearly illustrate to your potential employer:

  • why you want to work for them
  • why you are interested in the specific department and role
  • you have the skills, attributes and experience necessary

Structure your supporting information

  • Include a heading for each of the attributes listed in the person specification (download the example above) and provide concrete examples to evidence your skills, attributes, experience and good practice (see example 1).
  • Consider how your values and behaviours align to those of the employer and you are applying to the NHS, incorporate how you demonstrate the principles and values of the NHS Constitution. This will add depth, understanding and reflective practice to your application (see example 2) and will also show you have undertaken employer research.  Look at your practice and how you work, giving examples from your placement experiences and wider extracurricular activities.
  • You may also want to include information about how you will continue to develop as a professional nurse.

Don't forget to:

  • Complete the form as fully as possible
  • Use the NHS guidance for completing application forms
  • Include your Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration number received around six weeks after you complete your course.
  • If you apply before finishing your course, ask the employer what to enter - often this will be 000.
  • Stick to the word count
  • Check your spelling and for  typos

Example 1:

Working in a multi-disciplinary team

My ability to effectively communicate and work within a multi-disciplinary team was developed when I worked on a stroke rehabilitation ward.

It was imperative to provide quality patient care by working effectively with physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and consultants. I learned to adapt my language and communication style to suit different people and settings.

This was particularly effective on one occasion when working with a stroke patient who had lost his power of speech I had to work with the consultant, the speech therapist and his care worker to enable him to communicate his needs and to be able to understand his medication”.

Example 2:

Working in a multi-disciplinary team

As a volunteer counsellor I often had to liaise with my supervisor, GPs and Mental Health Team to formulate an action plan when working with clients with dual diagnosis.

This can also occur in a nursing context and needs to be dealt with in a caring and professional manner, while maintaining client confidentiality and observing the 6Cs of nursing – care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.


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