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If you are new to contracting or looking to move from permanent work and looking for your first contract, the first thing you need to do is re-write your CV (curriculum vitae). A traditional CV contains elements such as previous experience, education and references; and while this is all still relevant, some slight changes need to be made to tailor for a contractors CV.
Whichever method you choose when sourcing your first contract, you need to make sure you are doing something to make your CV stand out against other competitors. So what can you do?
A hirer will most likely only read the first few paragraphs so you need to make sure that your best skills and assets are prominently featured at the top of your CV. Its structure should be concise, to the point summary of what you, as a contractor can offer them, which others can’t.
Everything at this point should be completely relevant as most hirers make up their minds about someone within seconds, and having this section contain padding information, won’t help you stand out.
Before you even start to think about the structure, you need to understand that every contracting job is different, and therefore your CV also needs to be different; it needs to be tailored to each job.
A universal copy of your CV won’t be able to showcase your skillset to match each individual contract, meaning a less personalised feel for the reader. A trick to use is to include, wherever possible the company’s name, the position you’re applying for and the department; although it can be time-consuming, it could also be the clutch that could help you secure the contract.
As traditional CV’s do, your most recent contract should be at the top in/from ascending order, including contract length and dates. By including the length and date of each contract, the hirer can easily see that you are available for an immediate start. In order to save valuable space, ensure that older contracts are summarised rather than containing too much detail, any contracts older than a year do not need an elaborate description.
Don’t be put off when you’re first coming into the contracting world and have no actual contracting experience – everyone starts off this way. There is a way around it via communication on your past experience.
When stating your previous experiences, instead of writing a description of the role you had for each one, simply showcase the skills which that role has given you, to become a feasible contractor. The aim is to demonstrate that you have the skills to fill a gap in the workforce.
Over time this will build up and there will come a point where there is no need to include permanent roles anymore. This will enable you to identify what makes you a reliable contractor and showcasing this can allow for a smoother transition to contracting.
If you need more information you can visit our Guide to Contracting page.
Structure plays an important role in finding a contract, having bad structure could automatically place you in the ‘no’ pile. So here are a few pointers.
To ensure that you are being clear and concise, have your previous contracts stated as your limited company being the employer, as to avoid confusion when having worked on different projects. If you have yet to set up a limited company or are thinking of doing so, you can read more on our forming a limited company page.
There are no set rules for writing a contractor CV but most follow this overview:
One other difference between a traditional and a contractor CV is that you are advertising yourself on what you can offer for that particular company, instead of what you have done previously; showcasing your portfolio and client base as this is a main driver for most hirers.
You should try to portray yourself as an asset to a company who is looking to outsource for a particular project, someone who has specialist knowledge and they need to be able to see this through your CV. Outline exactly what skills you have and can offer them in the position, as they are looking for someone who has the exact skill set required for the project.
Your previous experience is, of course, relevant but it does not inform them of what you can do but of what you’ve done and wording it in this way could lose you the contract.
A fundamental element we are all taught in our lives which can be lost over the years with bad habits and laziness, but it is one of the most important aspects of your CV. Grammar, spelling and getting it proof read are vital in this process; just think, would you hire someone who had grammatical and spelling errors?
Ensure that what you have written makes sense, so leave it for a day or so and come back fresh and you may be able to spot something you couldn’t before.
Some may believe that having a picture of themselves is a good way to personalise their CV’s and stand out, but for some, this action will automatically place you in the no pile; but there is another way.
Creating a personal QR code, which links to a professional profile such as LinkedIn can help attract interest into your contractor CV. The hirer may also wish to view your profile and connect so make sure everything is up to scratch.
Another crucial part of the process is actually having your CV read by another person or two. Having another person look over your CV means they have a fresh approach to the piece and may be able to spot small mistakes that you could have missed.
This could be the clincher between getting an interview or not; incompletion of this could result in your CV being discarded for the contract position. Ensuring that these steps are followed can increase your chances of being offered that dream contract.
If you would like to seek advice about making the move to contracting or any other queries you may have, you can contact us on 01253 362062.