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Make sure your CV stands out from the pack

Advice for creating the best IT contractor CV

A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) found that 97 per cent of contractors are much happier than their permanently employed counterparts. Here, Jarek Grzeskowiak, delivery lead for leading Microsoft recruitment partner, Curo Talent, explains how to make your CV stand out from the crowd of other contractors competing for their next slice of happiness.

Any recruiter that has worked in the IT sector for a while will tell you that they have their own screening process, with a list of specific things they search for in a pile of CVs. However, there are several things you can do that will make you stand out to any recruiter or human resource (HR) manager looking for a contractor.

First impressions matter

Contracting work can span anything from a few weeks to a few months. So, while you might not need to make a lasting impression on any potential colleagues, you only have a limited timeframe to make any impression at all. This is also reflected in the recruitment process.

In an increasingly competitive industry, you need to make sure that your CV makes it past the initial sweep. A tidy and well formatted CV is vital to catch the reader’s attention. This doesn’t mean going over the top with design features. Unless you’re applying for a role that requires you to demonstrate design capability, you’re better off putting your effort into structuring your CV well and ensuring everything is clear and concise.

Start with a straightforward description of yourself and your core skillset and follow up with relevant work experience. It’s important to tailor your CV to each job application. This will not only ensure you have all the right keywords covered — which the recruiter will search for — you will also be able to tailor your work experience to demonstrate relevant skills.

Take the time to outline related projects you’ve worked on, the technology you used and the results you were able to generate for the business you were working with.

Think of all your skills

Obviously, one of the core things to highlight consistently in your CV is the software and technology that you have worked with in the past and any particular areas of specialism.

The most important thing to focus on in this regard is results. Anyone can claim expertise, qualifications and experience. However, even if you’ve worked on hundreds of cybersecurity or cloud projects, if you can’t provide examples of demonstrable results for your employer that experience isn’t as valuable as you may think. Being able to show you understand the implications of the projects you undertake will give you an edge.

Showcasing your ability to complete technologically challenging projects to a high standard is incredibly important. However, to stand out from the crowd, these aren’t the only skills you should develop and highlight in your CV.

It’s also important to develop effective communication skills and show that you can work closely and easily with any kind of client. Contractors move from one job to the next, often between various sectors and businesses of all shapes and sizes. So, if you can show a recruiter that whoever you sit in a room with or report to will be able to work easily with you, you’ll rack up a few extra points early on.

Pay attention to detail

Any recruiter, no matter the sector, will tell you how important this final point is. Any CV that is littered with spelling and grammar errors or that has inconsistencies in formatting will fall to the bottom of the pile.

This isn’t simply to judge your English skills. You’re being judged on your attention to detail and your ability to complete tasks to a high standard. If you can’t submit a CV that is of the highest standard to stand out from your own competition, how can you be trusted to complete a project to a standard that will give your employers a competitive edge?

Contracting may make you happier than choosing full time employment, at least if the MGI’s findings are accurate. However, this will only be true if you can reliably pick up work. So, take the time to perfect your CV and make sure you stay ahead of the pack.

This article is provided by leading Microsoft recruitment partner, Curo Talent.

By Curo Talent

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1 thought on “Make sure your CV stands out from the pack”

  1. Graham Smith

    Sound advice. First impressions do count, and very often the first thing Recruitment Managers see is a persons CV.

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