We recently spent asked some of the recruitment consultants we work with what makes agents favour certain contractor candidates over others. Here we reveal some of the most common mistakes made by contractors, together with tips (provided by recruiters) on how to maximise your chances of being selected for interviews.
Recruiters put in a fair bit of work between sourcing suitable contractors and presenting their details to clients. Your details will either pre-exist on the recruiter’s database, or have been sourced from job boards, or directly from you (via email).
Although you may think that recruiters simply forward on CVs (in their original form) to clients, a lot more goes on behind the scenes.
If your details are going to be forwarded to a client, the contents of your CV will be reformatted by the recruiter, some personal details removed, and other details added. A compliance check will also need to be carried out to make sure you’re who you say you are. Some firms even use pre-employment screening facilities to make sure your CV details match up with publicly available data (e.g. information gathered from the web).
There is no problem if you tailor CVs to specific roles, or expand upon certain sections which may be relevant in certain cases. The key thing is that your CV is accurate – and the dates are correct.
One agent told us that covering letters weren’t necessary when submitting your CV to agencies direct, however, you may benefit if you submit one later in the application process, i.e. if your details are being sent to a client for consideration.
Be helpful and proactive
Flexibility is an attribute which will stand you in good stead as a contractor. There will be times when a recruiter will ask you to provide more details for your CV, to come into the office to provide ID details, or to provide references.
If you’re proactive and work with the recruiter, you’re far more likely to be looked upon favourably when new roles come along.
Recruiters always have their ‘favourite’ contractors – those who perform their contracts well, communicate well, and make an effort. When a new role comes up, they will always look at their in-house database first for potential candidates, before considering other contractors.
The explosion of social media has revolutionised the way the recruitment industry works. LinkedIn, more than anything has become an essential tool for recruiters and contractors alike.
Here are some specific things you should bear in mind when creating your profile:
- Make sure you appear smart in your profile picture. You don’t necessarily need to look like you’re an MD in a conference room, but avoid profile pictures from a bar, or on the beach, for example.
- Use buzzwords/keywords in your profile, to increase your chances of appearing on searches.
- List all of your assignments in order, highlighting your skills/experience with each one. Don’t group several years’ worth of contracts into one single entry to save time (see the next point).
Show all your assignments
Several recruiters told us than many contractors list a large number of contracts under a single heading on their CVs, such as:
Contractor’s Company Limited
This is very off-putting for recruiters and clients alike, as the contractor could have undertaken three roles in that period or a dozen.
It’s always best to list every contract role you’re worked on in the recent past, together with dates.
Don’t appear desperate
Register with a select number of recruiters (2 or 3 perhaps) who specialise in your area of expertise. If you register with too many (say 10 – 15), your CV may be forwarded to a client by multiple agencies (as clients tend to use more than one recruiter) – which can make you appear desperate, and far less likely to get the role.
Keep your phone on
One agent said that one of the most frustrating things was trying to get in touch with contractors, and being unable to contact them via the phone. He said that recruiters will typically only call you if they have a specific role in mind, or to see if you’re available for interview at late notice.
Clients will sometimes want to interview contractors on the same day, or within 48 hours, so make sure you remain contactable if your CV has been put forward to a role.
Put your recruiter’s numbers on your phone (e.g. ‘John at Recruitment Partners’), so you can see when they’re trying to get in touch.
Many contractors have missed out on interview opportunities simply because they have been uncontactable at important times.
Despite what you might have read about the relationship between contractors and recruiters, agents need good quality candidates to pass on to clients, and contractors need work, so it is in your best interests to form good working relationships with recruiters.
Generally speaking, if you have the right skills to work as a contractor in the first place, you will find yourself at the top of the list by being flexible and open, by providing any extra CV details when asked, being flexible with interviews, and returning phone calls and emails promptly.
Thanks to our anonymous recruiters for their help in compiling this article!