Clients and agents need to recruit people who can join a project and get on with the job from day one. Accordingly, contractors’ CVs need to be to-the-point and accessible.
Before joining the contract world, you would typically submit CVs for ‘normal’ jobs which would detail everything about your past, from the school and university you attended, to your skills as a fire safety officer and your favourite hobbies.
Thankfully for many, a good contractor CV will contain none of these elements, as its sole aim is to provide a potential client with an accessible, up-to-date summary of your skills.
Recruiters need to source people who can fill positions at short notice and can integrate themselves within projects with minimal fuss.
Key features of a killer contractor CV
Here are some of the key things you should bear in mind when writing an IT contractor CV:
You should highlight your technical skills and industry experience on Page 1. Make sure you keep this list up-to-date and tailor the list to the role you are applying for.
You should list any technical qualifications or accreditations if you have any. You can mention your degree if relevant, but recruiters aren’t interested in your GCSE results.
List your contract experience in reverse date order (the most recent first). Keep any details to-the-point.
When listing contract positions you have held, it always looks good if you have had renewals, so write “18 months – 2 renewals”, rather than “18 months”.
Ideally, your CV should be just 2 pages long. Spend more time detailing recent roles, and summarise any older roles. Scroll down for a sample CV layout for professional contractors.
A potential client will need to know your name and date of birth. Your religion, marital status, and race really aren’t worth mentioning on your CV. Although handy as a conversation starter, try to keep extra-curricular information to a minimum. “I have a golf handicap of 21 – I play a great deal and participate in a number of tournaments when time allows” could be abbreviated to “Golf”.
Presentation, Grammar, and Spelling
Make sure you run your CV through a spell checker and ask a colleague or friend to read it first before submitting copies to recruiters. Produce your CV in a uniform, standard font, and break up larger chunks of information for easier digestion.
As well as listing your roles and responsibilities during your contracting career, try to point out the results you have achieved on each project. Potential employers are more likely to interview you if you have a track record of success.
Can you explain any gaps?
Make sure you can account for any “gaps” in your CV. As candidates in successive series of BBC’s “The Apprentice” have found out, there is nothing more embarrassing than being caught out when you can’t explain where a few months of your working life disappeared to.
Suggested CV Layout
There are no ‘rules’ for writing a professional CV, nor are there official guidelines to the layout you should use.
Having been involved in the contracting world for many years, here is a basic layout used by the Contract Eye team on past projects:
YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS
# Full Name
# Current Address
# Contact Details (Phone, Email, etc. – agency should remove if forwarding to a client)
# Date of Birth
# Do you require a Work Permit?
EDUCATION / QUALIFICATIONS
Provide a concise summary of your past degree and exam results, in reverse chronological order. You can just say ‘3 A Levels’, or ‘8 GCSEs’ rather than providing the grades for each.
If you have any technical qualifications, include these, particularly if they are relevant to the role you are applying for.
Make a bullet point list of your key skills, e.g. ASP / .Net, etc. These details are what agents are most interested in, so make sure they stand out from the crowd, as some recruiters will receive dozens of CVs for each role.
PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT / CONTRACTS
In reverse chronological order, list these details with the most recent role first. Detail your position, what role you undertook, which skills and technology you employed in each project. Although technical expertise is of most interest to potential clients, teamwork achievements will also help, as contractors with no social skills are not highly prized, despite the stereotypes!
OTHER SKILLS / PERSONAL INTERESTS
We recommend you use this section to detail any specific skills or achievements you may have which may interest the reader. Don’t bother listing your hobbies or achievements at school though, they could lessen the impact of the CV as a whole. Extensive foreign travel, knowledge of foreign languages are examples of worthy mentions in this section
It is up to you whether you include these or not, as many CV ‘writers’ are split over this subject. A potential client (via an agency or direct) can always ask you later for references. You should always ask permission from 2 previous clients before sending off your CV; they may not be overly impressed to be asked for a reference if they haven’t spoken with you for several years! This is a classic reason why you should keep your LinkedIn network up-to-date.
Be accurate and careful when creating your CV
Don’t lie on your CV, but it is worthwhile tailoring your past achievements/skills to match the IT contract requirements.
If you apply for a job with false information, chances are you will be found out by the client, and your agency could blacklist you.
Recruiters often use pre-employment checking services during the recruitment process. Complex algorithms will cross-match submitted data with a variety of other data, including information taken from social networking sites.
So, not only should you be careful what personal information you upload on the web, but you should always ensure that it all matches your CV!
The future of the humble CV
Since the birth of the web decades ago now, commentators have predicted the demise of the traditional CV, especially given the huge penetration LinkedIn has within the contracting industry.
However, although the format is bound to evolve over time, the important areas of a CV – whether it be a Word or pdf document or part of your online profile, remain exactly the same.
You should always ensure that a potential client can quickly scan the relevant parts of your resume in an instant.