All small businesses need to market themselves, whether it be via a tender document or a sales proposal. In the same way, IT contractors and freelancers have to send off a CV and impress at interview to secure that next contract.
Although constructing the sections of a CV is not necessarily a difficult task in itself, making the whole document appeal to recruiters involves a little more work.
In fact, the CV writing process is more of a marketing exercise than an academic one, so with this in mind here are some tips to help you win your next contract:
5 CV Writing Tips for IT Contractors
1) Try to keep your CV to 1 or 2 pages, maximum. With dozens of CVs to look through, potential clients will lose interest if they don’t see anything eye-catching within the first page or so.
2) As an IT contractor, the client is looking for specific skills and qualifications, so spend quality time ensuring these sections are well worded and concise, and don’t worry about telling them you were in the rugby team at school in 1984!
3) Organisation – Your CV layout should be simple and logical. Use bold headings to separate the sections and bullet points where necessary.
4) Fonts – Use a single, clean font (such as Arial), don’t use fancy colours or trendy paper. Rather than making your CV stand out, gimmicks such as these will ensure your paperwork is the first in the bin. Of course, spell check before your mail your CV off.
5) Accuracy – Don’t lie on your CV, but tailor 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.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that ‘CV vetting’ agencies may be cross-checking CV information with other 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!
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 employers before sending off your CV, as they may not be overly impressed to be asked for a reference having not spoken with you for several years!