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Updated by Hays UAE, April 2017 

Author: Daniel Dubbert, IT Contracting Operations Manager, Hays EMEA

If you’re a contractor, you’re essentially running your own business. And, your CV is your most important piece of marketing collateral. It is a key tool to help you market, promote and showcase your unique skills and experience to recruiters and hiring managers.

The amount of time and effort you spend crafting a focused and clear CV will have a huge bearing on whether your career as a contractor will be a success in the long-term. So, here are a few tips to help you:

To tailor or not to tailor?

1. Your tailored CV

If you are applying for a specific role or project, you will be required to tailor your CV. Think about it – as a contractor, you will be hired to assist with a specific project or solve a certain problem; therefore your CV needs to be specific to the requirements laid out in the job description. It needs to assure the reader that you have the skills and experience to take on this project, hit the ground running and deliver from the outset.

So, when applying for a specific role – put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager or recruiter when updating your CV. What specific skills are really important from their point of view? What are they looking for? What do they need to know about you? This type of thinking can help when crafting your personal statement, which will form the first impression a recruiter or hiring manager will have of you. Therefore, make sure that it succinctly summarises you and your career journey in an engaging way that really speaks to the reader.

Highlight your specific areas of skills and expertise in relation to the role and ensure these messages are consistently present throughout the rest of the CV. For more advice on how you can tailor your CV to a specific role, please read this blog.

2. Your generic CV

However, more often than not, as a contractor, you will likely be directly approached by your recruiter regarding specific roles, rather than applying directly. I therefore, can’t stress enough how vitally important it is that you have a strong generic version of your CV to hand at all times.

This version needs to highlight all the skills which relate to the types of jobs you are willing to consider, whilst reiterating clearly where your skills and expertise lie. In doing this, you will broaden your chances of being approached directly for a variety of suitable roles.

Regardless of whether you are tailoring your CV for a specific role, or you’re updating your generic version, below are a number of overriding principles you should follow when writing or updating your CV:

Know what you can offer to the market

Firstly, and most importantly, in today’s competitive contracting market, it’s so important for you to know exactly what you can offer the market, where your specific expertise lies and how, essentially, you can bring something different to the table. Once you have a clear understanding of what it is you want to represent, ensure this message is clear in each part of your CV.

Keep your CV succinct

You might have been contracting for 20 years, but you don’t need to list every single job you’ve ever had on your CV. The bias should always be on your most recent roles and projects. As you will well know, things move fast in today's hiring market, and technology (and skills) can go out of date so quickly that even what you did five years ago, might be irrelevant now.

I therefore recommend you simply include the basic details of roles you had during the early stages of your career (e.g. dates, role and company is sufficient). After all, you can include more information on your LinkedIn profile or personal website. Remember, your CV also needs to be structured in chronological order – starting with your most recent role.

Provide detail on your CV where it matters

You know your work history. You know exactly what you did at each job and on each project, but you can’t assume that the recruiter reading your CV can deduce all those great skills you’ve developed from a couple of lines on your CV. So, if you are looking for software development roles, for example, the recruiter will want to know specifically about the programming languages, tools and frameworks you have experience with, whilst this level of detail might not be relevant for project managers, for example.

Regularly update your CV

Get into the habit of updating your CV regularly. It’s best to do your updating towards the end of your current project so you’re perfectly positioned with an up-to-date CV to start applying for the next one. This will also ensure all the details are fresh in your mind and you don’t miss any vital information. If you are on a longer term contract, then update your CV every three to six months.

If you found this blog useful, make sure you take a look at our other recent articles. Visit our dedicated blog page here or click on one of the links below: