By Matt Craven, founder of award-winning contractor service provider, The CV & Interview Advisors
Crafting a Contractor CV
The first step to securing a contract is creating an effective CV (and LinkedIn profile), but how much time and effort that’s put into this task varies. I tend to view contractors as businesses, especially if they operate outside-IR35, so my view of a CV is that it’s your most important marketing asset, in the same way that our website is our most important marketing asset. View it as your company’s sales brochure and you won’t go far wrong.
In this article, we’ll explore some CV writing tactics that will help you get more interest from higher-paying contract opportunities.
It’s fairly well known that tailoring each application is the right thing to do, but it’s also time-consuming. In the competitive world of contracting, efficiency is key, so how do we find the time to make every CV we send out laser-targeted? One way to streamline your application process is by creating a master CV. This document serves as a comprehensive repository of all your skills, experiences and achievements that can be added or removed depending on the role.
It’s wise to have multiple Profiles (your opening paragraph) to choose from, changing the Key Skills, and selecting from a broad portfolio of case studies, picking the best three each time for your Career Highlights section. To make adjustments to your master CV, start by identifying keywords in the contract brief that align with your expertise. Then incorporate these into relevant sections. Ensure that any project outcomes correlate directly with the requirements listed in the contract brief.
If you’re operating as a contractor, you’ll probably be aware of IR35 regulations. For most contracts, especially if you are operating outside-IR35, it’s crucial to present yourself as a business, not an individual seeking employment. Avoid sounding like a job seeker and instead, focus on showcasing your ability to deliver specific services or projects. Highlight the value and results you’ve brought to previous clients rather than just listing job duties.
Include case studies and client testimonials in your contractor CV to demonstrate professionalism and credibility. These provide tangible evidence of the quality of work delivered and reinforce your status as a business entity. Request feedback from past clients if possible – positive reviews can be invaluable assets when crafting an impactful contractor CV.
The Right Format
When it comes to crafting a contractor CV, the selection of format is paramount in determining your likelihood of winning work, and it also plays a role in your IR35 status.
The chronological CV is standard; it lists your work history in reverse chronological order, allowing potential clients to quickly understand your most recent roles and responsibilities.
A case study style CV, on the other hand, focuses on individual projects or contracts you’ve completed. This approach enables you to highlight specific achievements and demonstrate how you’ve added value in previous roles. This framework is much more aligned with being outside-IR35.
Then we have the one-page bio that is great for networking.
To make sure your CV gets noticed by recruitment software (also known as Applicant Tracking Systems), use relevant keywords from the contract brief. Using linguistic mirroring is also a smart move, copying or preempting the exact terminology used by the client rather than using your own vernacular. Additionally, keep formatting simple and consistent to ensure readability for both humans and machines alike.
If you’re struggling to write an effective contractor CV despite your best efforts, help is at hand. Given that your CV is your most important marketing asset, it might be a good idea to reach out for some professional help.
The CV & Interview Advisors offer a free CV review/audit, which could prove beneficial, especially if you’re finding it hard to stand out in a competitive market. CBW readers can get a free and confidential contractor CV review here https://cvandinterviewadvisors.co.uk/partners/CBW
We would also like to invite you to an exclusive one-hour webinar for CBW readers on June 28th (various times available). It’s titled ‘The Ultimate Contractor CV Guide Including Solutions for Inside and Outside-IR35 Scenarios’ and you can register for free here.
This article just scratches the surface, but this upcoming webinar will spill the beans and give you the blueprint to create a CV that will really open doors.