The CV has been the cornerstone of job hunting for decades, and reports of its imminent death as a crucial tool for finding contract work are almost certainly ‘greatly exaggerated’. In a page or two of concise information, a potential client or recruiter can make a decision over the suitability of an applicant in seconds, so you should take some time to ensure your CV stands out from the pack.
The impressive functionality offered by web platforms such as LinkedIn has led some to believe that the CV may soon be outdated, but these views don’t appear to be shared by many within the contracting industry, which doesn’t show signs of ditching the CV any time soon.
Career contractor, and site contributor, Peter Roy, summed up this view succinctly;
“The CV is still very much the bedrock of the interaction, and more than that it is the tool that they use to leverage you with the client.”
“LinkedIn is perfect for finding ‘back routes’ into clients, and to follow agents to see what jobs they are advertising.”
With this in mind, here are some tried and tested tips for creating the ‘killer CV’, which have been followed by contractors for many years, including members of the team behind this site.
How to create the perfect IT contractor CV
1. Keep it brief – many experts suggest that a mere 2 pages is ideal. This may seem brief, but a contractor CV is a different beast to a permanent one. Entire sections dedicated to your GCSE results and ‘hobbies’ should make way for a punchy summary, your key skills / expertise, training and certifications (if relevant), followed by concise details of your previous contract work (in reverse date order). Try to keep the summaries and skills on page one, and details of your work history on page two (and onwards if necessary).
2. Relevance – focus on your most recent contracting roles (or previous permanent work if you’re new to the industry). Recruiters are interested in your current skillset and industry experience, so you don’t need to include detailed job descriptions from a decade ago. Include the dates of each assignment, and details of any renewals for each project (if relevant).
3. Tailor your CV – take time to tailor your CV to each role, rather than using a generic document. One reader told us: “I quite often have agents ask me to re-work parts of my CV to “tailor” me to the client. So I personally don’t have one CV – I have 3 main CVs, and I have literally dozens of slight variations of those CVs that got submitted to particular clients!”
4. Check your facts – increasing numbers of recruiters now use pre-employment screening services which use complex techniques to compare the claims of job applicants with information collected from various sources, including the web. Make sure that the key facts of your employment record are accurate – particularly dates, or you may get caught out.
5. Covering letter – not all recruiters view covering letters as important, but given that you could encounter one who does, it makes sense to provide a covering note of some sort to accompany your CV. Again, tailor the letter to the role and company you are applying for. Don’t repeat information already contained within the CV, but include information on your current status (when are you available?, etc.), and the reasons why you think you should be considered for this particular role.
There are no firm ‘rules’ on how to structure your CV, however recruiters would typically expect to see the following information on a contractor’s CV.
Don’t forget that your CV will be reformatted by the recruitment agency before being submitted to the client. Personal information and references will not be forwarded.
|Section||What to include|
|Name||Your name, contact details|
|Summary||A paragraph including your job role, areas of expertise, achievements.|
|Key Skills / Expertise||Bullet points / tables are very eye-catching.|
|Training / Education||Certifications, relevant training, degree / A-levels, etc.|
|Employment History||List the most recent role first. Include details of renewals. Make sure you include all roles, don't say 'various contract roles'.|
|Other Relevant Personal Details||e.g. Nationality, Date of Birth.|
|References||Typically state that these are 'available upon request'.|