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Congratulations for recently passing the Nurse Licensure Examination (NLE). All your hard work has finally paid off. Seeing your name on the list just brings out a sigh of relief like that of a removed clot in one’s artery, but that doesn’t stop there. After becoming a full pledged professional nurse, a different challenge awaits you which is the hunt for your very first job. Keep in mind that it’s a jungle out there and since you don’t have any professional experience yet, you have to impress hiring managers and human resource officers with your wit.

So how do you start with your quest? First, you need to have an eye-catching cover letter. Not all applicants are aware of this but I always take notice of an applicant’s effort when he or she has written correctly the salutation or my name and the hiring manager’s name. It shows that he or she has done a little research about the company. Start your cover letter by introducing yourself and giving a brief description of your qualifications, how you have come to know of the job opening and your pitch on why you want to work for the company. In the closing paragraph, indicate your period of availability for the interview.

Another important part in your job application is a well-formatted resume, one that would make hiring managers want to interview you on the first look. Remember that there are a lot of nurses out there, some with experience and some without and we nursing administrators’ shortlist applicants just by examining their resume so you need to get your first pitch right or you’ll never be invited for an interview. In writing a resume, it’s not about the stunning font, scented paper or the number of pages, it’s about which one has all of his qualifications properly laid out and summarized in one or two pages. For new professional nurses who do not have any experience yet, it is best to have a one-page functional resume, cover letter and reference list in your application together with a copy of your credentials and certificates of seminars within the past year. Here is a list of tips on how you should format your resume:

1. Use a font that is readable – It should be as simple as it can be. Arial, Calibri, Tahoma and Times New Roman are the commonly readable font styles you can choose from.  Comic Sans and cursive fonts are a big no-no for CVs. Hiring managers take the selection process seriously and so should you by starting with those fonts. Keep it at an eye-pleasing font size of 12 with your whole name slightly larger than the other entries and in bold format. Paragraphs should be single-spaced with margins at one-inch on all four sides.

2. Be consistent in the use of tabs, bullets, italics and font sizes make sure that there are no misaligned tabs, section titles that have different font sizes and don’t forget to justify your paragraphs.

3. The shorter the sentences are, the better  – simplicity is the key, you don’t know how many times the hiring manager thought  you could have just written a once-word description of your personality instead of using complex adjectives that you could not even expound during the interview.

4. Unless it’s a modelling job you are applying for, don’t include awkward pictures – and by awkward, I mean selfies. You can insert a standard 2×2 corporate photo on the upper right corner or none at all if it is not included in the list of requirements.

5. Contact information should be updated – double check your mobile numbers and check if it is typed correctly because you lose your chance if one digit is missing and I have received a lot of applicants with 10-digit numbers who have missed hiring opportunities many times.

6. Professional email account – if you are going to include an email address, make sure that it looks professional for your job hunting purposes. Email addresses such as sweethoney781@mail.com or singleandreadytomingle@mail.com doesn’t exactly make you a fit candidate and hiring managers seriously include small details such as this one when short listing applicants.

7. Personal Information –  do not include your age if you have indicated your birthday or vice versa, do not include your passport number, SSS, TIN, PHIC if you are aiming for a one-page resume. These information will be required upon hiring so it’s too early to be providing them. Do not include your gender if it is already obvious in your name and photo.

8. Subsections – you can include educational background but do not anymore indicate the elementary and high school details. Career Objectives (specific and not generalized or generic), Professional Qualifications, Trainings and Seminars, Achievements during college, or if you were in an organization include programs have you organized and a brief quantitative description.

After polishing your resume, you may send them to various companies where you intend to apply in. You may search for openings in job search engines, company websites, Facebook pages or LinkedIn pages. Sending them your application via email is a good option if the company responds to follow ups. In sending applications via email, write you cover letter in the body of the mail so that you don’t just leave it blank and then attach your resume and credentials. If you have sent your applications a month ago and the human resource does not reply to you follow-up mails, then it is best to bring a hard copy of your cover letter, resume and copies of credentials at their office.

I hope these sure-fire tips land you a spot in the interviews. Next time I will be writing useful tips on how you can ace the interviews. In the meantime, fire up those resumes and start sending your applications. If you don’t get a response you can always follow up so that hiring managers see your interest in their company. Until then, good luck!

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She is a registered nurse both in the Philippines and in the state of Texas with a masters degree from the Philippine Women's University. An active member of several organizations, she is one of the Philippine Nurses's Association (PNA) officers in her district and acts as a chief nurse in a private hospital. She also serves as a writer and researcher for a US-based nursing website dedicated in helping aspiring students pass the NCLEX which paved the way in publishing her co-written eBook entitled NCLEX Questions: Top Meds on NCLEX RN.