How To Approach Graduate Nursing Programs

Your success in gaining an interview for a graduate nursing related role will largely depend on the resume you submit as part of your application. Your resume is an opportunity to showcase your knowledge, skills, expertise and experience, and it is important that your resume is tailored to your specific goals and circumstances.

Before commencing your application, it would be recommended to research and understand what is involved in the application process for the specific organisation you are applying for. With many graduate nursing roles and programs, there are multiple components to the application including a cover letter, selection criteria and resume. It is important to read and re-read the application and keep to the employer’s submission requirements. This can include information that needs to be addressed including resume and cover letter length, qualifications and registration. We have compiled the main aspects of what to implement in your own nursing application documents below.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS):
Many government departments and healthcare employers now use automated computer software known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to collect, sort, scan and rank job applications. ATS technology automates hiring administrative tasks and does away with the need for reviewing and shortlisting applicant resumes. There are multiple considerations when compiling a resume to increase your ability to pass through ATS to reach a Hiring Manager. These include:

  • Don’t use a graphic design style resume, fancy characters or fonts, add pictures, images or videos and don’t include charts, tables or graphs
  • Make sure you keep it simple with a minimalistic look and feel, create your document in Microsoft Word, and use Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman or Verdana fonts.

Resume basics to consider include formatting in traditional reverse chronological order, use consistent fonts, headings and format, and try to keep your resume to a 2-3 page length. When writing your resume, check that it is free from repetition and duplication, that relevant key words are included throughout, and ensure your resume is free from spelling and grammatical errors.

A nursing resume will have different types of heading compared to a standard resume and these include:

  • Professional Summary: Highlight professional achievements, qualifications and relevant industry experience, personal attributes – aim is to differentiate yourself from others – highlight unique strengths and skills
  • Key Attributes and Competencies
  • Qualifications: List nursing relevant qualifications – trim down or omit others
  • Professional Development/Training: Detail recent PD you have undertaken – focus on relevance to the role
  • Memberships/Registrations: Memberships of any nursing relevant associations, including AHPRA
  • Clinical Placements (if applicable): For new or recent graduates, list clinical placements completed in reverse chronological order
  • Employment: List nursing relevant employment, trim down or omit out of industry positions
  • Community Involvement/Voluntary Roles: Outline any nursing relevant voluntary, unpaid or community work completed
  • Referees: 2 – 4 referees, all work related and have supervised you in a nursing capacity

Cover Letter
When composing your cover letter, some essentials to consider include:

  • Read through the job advertisement to determine requirements
  • One page maximum unless specified otherwise
  • Typical cover letter layout- list the date, personal details top right, address contact person (‘Recruitment Team’, ‘Hiring Manager’ can be used if no contact person)
  • Be consistent by ensuring the font and style matches your resume
  • Ensure key words listed in the job advertisement or position description are referenced throughout, and tailor your letter to the role with evidence and examples and address all requirements

Selection Criteria
Another component to your nursing application can include selection criteria. Selection Criteria are the skills, attributes, knowledge and qualifications that the employer has defined as being essential for satisfying the requirements of the job and can be found in the Position Description. When applying for a role you are required to write a short statement against each criterion which outlines how your current skills, attributes, knowledge or qualifications satisfy this criterion. These statements demonstrate how you’ve dealt with issues and challenges in the past. Selection Criteria are useful in the hiring process by allowing the Selection Panel in assessing all applicants fairly and consistently. It also enables employers to predict how they’ll likely react to situations in their workplace. Applicants are also benefited by the selection criteria, as it gives you a better understanding of what the job requires.

During the presentation we will discuss the STAR Method in detail, as well as provide examples of how to apply this method in a real-world scenario, but a brief explanation is that this framework is developed to help you prepare, reflect on and compile responses to each criterion. It is widely used across nursing applications both in written process and in behavioural interviews, and it is a set of short statements that ask you to demonstrate your experience, knowledge or skills in a work situation.

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