How to write a killer contractor CV & win that contract
With high value government investment in housing, transport infrastructure and digital communications, opportunities abound for the UK’s flexible workforce.
If you are aiming to win that contract of a lifetime, your CV is your chance to stand out from the crowd.
The first thing to remember is that recruiters and hiring managers have to wade through stacks of CVs and whittle them down to a shortlist of candidates for interview.
Digressing slightly, I once came across a company owner who, when he got a batch of CVs across his desk, immediately shuffled them, split the pile in two and put half straight in the bin. His logic? He didn’t want anyone unlucky working for him!
Thankfully though, most hirers use a more scientific method! So, how do you sell yourself on two sides of A4? The first thing to remember is that writing a CV as a contractor is a little different to writing one aimed at a permanent role.
Permanent vs. Contractor CVs
Potential clients are looking for skills and industry knowledge, on a short-term basis. They want someone to come in, fix their problem and get the job done - right away. You need to get across that you are that person.
Unlike a permanent CV, your priority is to highlight your core skills concisely from the start. Steer clear of corporate speak and jargon and minimise the “filler”.
Structure is one of the most important things to consider -you can lay out your CV any way you like but we’d recommend choosing one of the following:
This approach outlines your experience from most to least recent. It’s essentially a shortlist of your best and most recent work.
Order by skills
This focuses on your most valuable skills and the results you have achieved using them. You’ll typically include a list of 4 -10 of your key proficiencies and the relevant projects each has supported. This approach is particularly good for those with gaps in their employment history.
The key thing to focus on is that clients usually hire contractors because they don’t have the skills in-house to fulfill a certain need. Your CV should communicate that you are the best person to meet that need.
As a contractor you probably have experience with a variety of different clients which can make it hard to choose exactly what to put on your CV. If you’ve got a lot of experience, highlight the jobs which are most relevant to the type of contract you applying for.
Education, Training & Interests
You’ll need to include your formal education even if it’s just a small section at the bottom. Be sure to keep your CV updated with any new courses, training or certifications.
Your CV represents your whole self, not just you as a professional, so interesting sidelines or hobbies can make you stand out and may even end up being relevant to the job. So if you are a construction worker with a passion for photography, make sure you mention it.
General CV Writing Tips
Presentation is key.Your CV should be carefully and cleanly presented with a structured layout. The upper middle area of the first page is where the eye naturally falls, so put the most important information there. Always proofread it several times and get someone else to check it too.
Avoid writing things in negative terms.
When talking about adversity or challenges you’ve faced present them in a positive way.
Negative words like "hate", "argued", "quit", "ignored" or even"tried" should be avoided and replaced with positive words like "overcame", "persuaded", and "delivered".
Make yourself easy to get hold of - name, address, phone number, email address and any professional social media presence. Your date of birth is no longer needed due to age discrimination rules. A photo is only essential for a small minority of contract jobs like acting and modelling, otherwise it’s your choice whether to include one or not.
Honesty is the best policy.
Don’t give out inaccurate or misleading information as this will only come back to bite you, especially if that information is crucial to the contract.
Submit your perfectly crafted CV to your agency or client and then it’s onwards to interview! Best of luck!
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