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Office Hours: 9am to 5.30pm

Marketing yourself as a contractor

Your CV is your shop window

As a contractor, the normal way that you will be able to market yourself and highlight your skills, experience and personality is via your CV. You need to see your CV as your shop window so it is essential that it presents you in the best possible light and sell you to a prospective client.

A contractor CV will often be different to that of a traditional permanent employee and here are some tips that may help you secure that next role.

Short and sweet

A good contractor CV should not really be more that 2 pages in length. It has been said that a client will absorb around 60% of the first page and around 40% of the second page. Any additional pages are therefore likely to be surplus to requirements. It is therefore vitally important that you are economical with the information your CV contains and not fall into the waffle trap.

Summary section

A good CV will always begin with a brief but punchy summary of your key skills and experience. This section should summarise what you have done over the last 5 years or so in terms of experience and training and set out the kind of role you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to make this section bold as in many cases, a potential client might actually make their decision to interview based on this summary alone!

Get things in the right order

A prospective client is not likely to be hugely interested in what you did 10 years ago, especially in tech sectors where it is essential to have the latest skills and training. It is therefore important to place more emphasis on your most recent work experience as this will show how current your knowledge is likely to be.

There are no hard and fast rules that say how far back you need to go but you should summarise your work history in reverse chronological order making sure that you include the dates and key experience. You should give detail on your most recent roles and summarise the earlier roles.

Client specific

Many contractors make the mistake of having a “stock” CV that they will send to all prospective clients, irrespective of exactly what that client is looking for. It is really important to tailor your CV to the role you are applying for. Taking some time to highlight areas of your CV that are particularly relevant to the role is a wise investment.

Chop and change

A hirer looking at a permanent employee’s CV is looking for a consistent employment history, rather than a candidate that has jumped from job to job as that suggests a lack of commitment.

By it’s very nature, a contractor CV will show roles of short duration and if a hirer has not had a great deal of experience of working with contractors they may not understand that this is normal.

It can often therefore be a benefit to a contractor to show their limited company or umbrella company as their employer with your individual contract roles as consultancy assignments.

If you are working with an agency or a client that is used to dealing with contractors then this might not be an issue but it would be worthwhile having two versions of your CV, one of which is tailored to experienced contractor recruiters and one which is likely to be better understood by less experienced hirers.

Extra curricular activities

Many people include long lists of non work activities and hobbies. In most cases this is a waste of space that can be better used to highlight your work strengths so unless you have achieved something major outside of work (such as a voluntary service award or sporting achievement) then leave the hobbies off!

Personal information

There is legislation designed to avoid discrimination in the recruitment process but it is still important not to include personal information on your CV that could be used by someone who is not following the rules to discriminate against you. This means you should not show your date of birth, marital status, family etc. A hirer should only be able to make a decision to interview you based on the skills and experience you have.

Tell the truth

This is probably one of the most important pieces of advice you can take on board. There is nothing wrong with being positive and blowing your own trumpet, but don’t fall into the trap of lying or exaggerating on your CV. It WILL catch you out at some point and could be the reason for early termination or dismissal.

Don’t forget the old maxim: “If you don’t tell a lie, you won’t have to remember what you have said

Further guidance

We work with many of the UK’s leading contractor recruitment agencies across many industry sectors and our team have extensive experience in the recruitment sector. If you would like any assistance in putting your CV together, please let us know and we will help you out.

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