Contractor Guides

What makes a great contractor CV?

When you were an employee, your CV was probably just this thing saved somewhere on your computer that got dusted…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

When you were an employee, your CV was probably just this thing saved somewhere on your computer that got dusted off and updated very occasionally if you decided to throw your hat into the ring for a new job.

Now you’re a contractor, your CV is constantly being updated and sent out as you pitch for new projects and this can often lead to it becoming unwieldly and disjointed. If this sounds like your CV, read on to find out how to spruce it up so it’s marketing you brilliantly to potential clients.

Market yourself

You need to start with a headline ? a marketable description of what you are. It needs to be specific so don’t be tempted to put something vague to appeal across the board. This may mean you need a few different CVs to appeal to different clients, but this is better than being so vague you appeal to no one.

Structure and content

A strong structure housing clear content is a must. A good structure looks something like:

  • Profile
  • Key Skills
  • Career Highlights
  • Career History

You should include a value proposition in your Profile, using FAB (Features & Benefits) statements to sell yourself. Keep your Career Highlights short and consider using the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Activity, Result) to outline your achievements and use quantifiers where possible. If you work with particular technologies, remember to include specific details of exactly what you are expert in.

Keep it easy on the eyes

No one wants to look at a CV that’s dense with text all in a size 8 typeface. Cut unnecessary things out rather than be tempted to go for a too-small font. And, while you’re at it, choose a layout that’s visually appealing. There are plenty of downloadable templates out there, or you could even hire a designer to work on it for you.

It’s all in the detail

Seemingly small details can all add up to make a strong (or weak) contractor CV. Things to check for on a second read-through would include:

  1. Making sure tenses are all correct.  For instance, details of your current position should be in the present tense, while completed projects should be in the past tense.
  2. Ensuring your alignment is consistent.  Assuming you’re using headers, sub-headers and bullet points, you’ll want to make sure these are all lined up consistently from section to section and that you’re using them in the same way throughout.
  3. Optimising for ATS and recruitment software. For better or worse, most CVs go through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before they are ever read by a human, and those that don’t pass muster never get read at all. You can help ensure your CV passes by including obvious headers that signpost sections and plenty of relevant keywords. Even including your postcode can help.
  4. Including insurance details. Most recruiters and clients will demand that you have contractor insurance so including a line on your CV saying what type of cover you hold can help you get noticed. If you need to organise contractor insurance, you can get a quote from our website.

Good luck pitching for new contracts!

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