Top Tips For Preparing Your CV

Published on: 1 Sep 2022
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Author: Dean Malpass

Over the past fifteen years I have been involved in the recruitment and selection of hundreds of people from mental health nurses to consultant psychiatrists, student nurses and nurse directors. Most CV’s that I have reviewed over the years from healthcare professionals have been adequate if unspectacular. 

This is a missed opportunity to make a great impression right at the start. Here are some of my observations on what makes a successful CV.

  1. Up-to-date. This is the most obvious but also the most important element. In my experience it becomes a particular problem the more senior you are. I am always amazed when I ask managers or directors for their CV and find it is years out of date. If you want to progress your career then your CV is one of your primary tools. It is your first opportunity to make an impression and can be asked for at a moment’s notice. Most people see updating your CV as a chore but in fact it is a good opportunity to take some much needed time to reflect on your career, what you learnt from each role, what you want to do in the future and what skills and experience are missing. This should help you focus your job search.

 

  1. Accurate. A good proportion of interview questions will focus on your experience and previous roles as listed in your CV. Resist the temptation to embellish the truth in your desperation to get a job. One of my most memorable CV experiences was where a candidate had been referred via a third-party recruitment agency who had clearly ‘helped’ the candidate with their CV. The only problem was that it became apparent during the interview the candidate had not read their new CV and did not seem to recognise the person it referred to!

 

  1. Visually appealing. This does not mean turning it into the equivalent of an exotic parrot, but it does mean that it should be well formatted and presented so it is easy to read for time-poor recruiters. Most word processing apps have formats that you can use for free and are a good place to start. Make sure you put it into a PDF before emailing or uploading. This means there is less risk of unforeseen formatting issues when opened by a different software programme.

 

  1. Succinct. Two to three pages is long enough for any CV no matter how senior you are or how many roles you have done. The art of being able to write precisely whilst showing excellent judgement for which content is included is an invaluable skill for any healthcare professional to have. You might as well start with your CV. Cut out anything that is irrelevant, repetitive or has been superseded by more recent experience.

 

  1. Tailored. Read the job description/specification carefully and emphasise which of your experience, values, education etc that match. Identify your areas of strength and weaknesses for the role. Then start to think about how you will address these in the interview. Merely hoping for the best is not a strategy I recommend, be prepared. 

 

  1. Error free. It’s very easy to make a poor impression through spelling mistakes or poor grammar. Proof-read your CV multiple times and ask a family member or trusted friend/colleague to read it and give you feedback. 

 

Dean Malpass is a Registered Mental Health Nurse and Chartered Manager and was previously a regional nursing director (Midlands & Wales). He currently provides consultancy services (www.deanmalpass.co.uk).