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Searching for a job as a student nurse


Faculty: Health, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Nursing and Midwifery
Course: BSc (Hons) Child Nursing
Category: Nursing and midwifery

21 March 2019

What's the best way to secure your first role as a registered nurse? Child Nursing student Abbi shares her tips for applying for jobs, including using the services on offer at ARU.

Applying for your first nursing job may sound scary, however ARU has lots of support to help you gain the job you really want and will enjoy.

Before you apply

Where should you start when applying for jobs as a nurse? There is no real order of how you should do it, however there are some things you need before you apply.

  1. Personal statement: a brief summary that is given to potential employers to tell them all about you, your interests, your skills and helps you stand apart from the competition.
  2. Portfolio: this is something you'll build up throughout your time at university. A portfolio is a collection of work that represents a person's skills and abilities. In my nursing portfolio I have a range of items including: feedback from patient and my mentor (ensuring that they are anonymous), drawing and thank you cards from patients, reflections I have done following my work, my E-learning certificates, placement documents to show what I have learnt, and my academic marks from university. Potential employers in the NHS tend to ask for your portfolio at interviews, so they can see you achievements, what kind of person you are and what skills you have. It's important that a lot of effort is put into it.
  3. CV: you may need this, and it allows you to state your education, skills and experience. This is a good place to talk about your placements, any part-time university work you have been doing and anything else that you feel might be relevant.

Finding job vacancies

Then you need to find some jobs that you are interested in applying for: https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/ is a good place to start. It has lots of NHS job all over the country.

It is also worth talking to your placement areas, as you may be able to apply directly through them.

Something I was also advised to do is to go to hospital open days. This means you can explore the clinical environments, speak to nurses currently working there and gain an understanding about what the hospital can offer you; for example do they offer a preceptorship programme, do they offer a rotation programme and how do they support their staff members?

Preparing for interviews

Before going to interviews it is very important to prepare; there are usually lots of different parts to nursing interviews similar to the university interviews completed before becoming a student nurse. Lots of hospitals put some practice maths exams and English exams on their websites. They also tend to put what kind of skills they are looking for in something called a ‘person specification’, which can help you to write your personal statement and prepare for you interview.

ARU runs workshops for students to have mock interviews and for looking at personal statement/CVs. See the Careers and employability web page for more information.

I have also found my nursing lecturers have been very helpful throughout the whole process when it came to looking at my portfolio, reading my personal statement and sending out reminders about open days for different hospitals.

My top tip

The best piece of advice I have been given whilst preparing for my job interviews is: prepare!

You can never be too prepared, however you may not be prepared enough which could have an effect on whether you get the role or not.

Don’t panic about interviews though: the nurses want you to work for them and become part of their team.

Study nursing at ARU

Find out more about our nursing degrees, and studying at ARU, at one of our Open Days.

We've been training nurses and other healthcare professionals for more than 25 years, and you can choose to specialise in adult nursing, child nursing or mental health nursing with us.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.