Getting your CV right if you’re entering contracting after many years in employment can be hard. It can even be difficult if you’re a few years down the line and have several projects behind you.
Here we’ve brought together all the tips you need to produce a winning contractor’s CV and there are a few points you need to remember before we get to the details in depth. Here are three pointers to keep in mind before you even begin:
A CV should never be longer than two pages – even a sentence over this and you’re likely to find your third page ends up in the bin without even being looked at. Potential clients are looking for the key information they need and they’ll lose interest if this isn’t in the first page or so.
The fonts you choose should be simple and readable on all devices as well as on paper – bright colours or cursive fonts make your CV seem gimmicky regardless of the quality of the content.
Never lie on your CV. Embellishing the truth is never a good idea if you get pulled upon it in interview. Tailor each CV to the contract in question and ensure you mention your skills and their relevancy, not those you wish you had to fit the criteria.
Essential Elements for your Contractor CV
There are four key elements to a successful and effective CV. The order you put them in is up to you, to a point, but they’re all necessary to get the results you’re looking for.
Your personal statement should appear first, this and the final section of the CV are the only ones which should be in the same position in every instance. Your personal statement is your opportunity to concisely state why you are the person best suited to any given contract.
This is your chance to out and out sell yourself and so needs to be tailored individually to each contract. This section can mention key elements from further into the CV but never for the sake of making the words up. Avoid the classic clichés such as ‘works well in a team as well as individually’ and simply state why you and your skill set are what the client needs.
Key Roles and Career Experience
This section is absolutely essential and probably the part most potential clients will spend most time reading. Getting it right can make or break your chances. Many contractors opt to list their experience chronologically and whilst this can work it is much more effective if you opt for a skills-based template. This means you begin by statement and proving your key skills in relation to the contract – once again making the CV highly personalised to the individual contract – something clients really love.
If you’ve worked on a wide range of similar contracts in the past then this type of CV is the most valuable as you can list you key skills and exemplify them by referring to contracts, clients and the dates related rather than simply handing over a hefty former client list.
It’s safe to say most clients won’t be bothered about your GCSE results but they may want to see recognisable evidence of your continued professional development and actual qualifications in your field.
Professional and technical qualifications may be part of a client’s ‘essential list’ when it comes to their contract so although you may feel they aren’t particularly relevant or were completed a long time ago you should definitely include them. It’s also important to note you should only include relevant qualifications as you could put a client off if it seems you’re stretching yourself too broadly over a wider field than they need.
Further skills which could be relevant to the contract can be written here. Never think it’s a good time to list your hobbies and interests outside of the workplace – this really isn’t relevant. What could be relevant is skills which you don’t practice in the workplace as standard which can be transferrable. If you’re a group leader outside of employment for example this is a good example of management skills. This section is also where you’d list any additional languages you may have.
The true key to a successful contractor CV is tailoring. You must take each contract to pieces and put your CV together to match each of those pieces as closely as possible. Do this and your chances of success will multiply.