When it comes to securing a job, the CV is used across almost all industries and levels. A contractor CV has a different function than a traditional CV. Although in essence it is the same – in that it displays the work history of a contractor – it has a slightly different purpose.
Contractors provide solutions
Before hiring an employee for a permanent position, there are various factors to consider, including skillset, long-term value to the business, and culture fit. A contractor is a different story altogether as this is often a short-or fixed-term position created to add temporary skills or fill a resource gap.
As a contractor, you are there to provide a solution to a problem, project requirements are often very specific. A contractor CV is about presenting your experience and showing how this positions you as the best person to fill this gap. The recruitment timeline for contractor roles is often short, so you need to get across your experience and instill confidence immediately.
Results are key
A contractor is a short-term partner, the company is buying into your skills and industry experience. Although contractors often cost more in the short term, it is vital that you hit the ground running on a project and immediately deliver results. Problem solving skills, initiative and the ability to achieve – and exceed – KPIs, are all essential qualities for a contractor.
At Phaidon International we have extensive experience of working with contractors and helping to present their skills to potential employers. Here are our top tips for contractors looking to build a strong CV.
What’s your core ‘value proposition’? Make it clear at the top of your CV along with your key strengths. Research into quantitative eye tracking suggests recruiters spend just six seconds looking at your CV, so make sure every second counts.
2) Show, don’t tell
When it comes to contractor CVs, you should ‘show, don’t tell’. This means showing the employer what makes you the most qualified for the role rather than telling them. When you paint your experience you should be aiming to show what you can do using examples, as well as illustrating examples with results from previous projects. Avoid flowery language and soft skills such as ‘strong communication skills’ or ‘team player’.
It’s vital that you adapt your CV for each role. Show previous experience of working on similar projects and give examples of times you have utilized key skills. Contractor roles are often filled swiftly, so the quicker you send your details, the better. Rather than rewriting your CV for each project, put together a selection of different case studies and CV versions in advance, each with a different focus so you can tailor the documents. While personalizing your covering letter and CV for each contract is important, you can save yourself hours of work by preparing several templates as part of your job hunting groundwork.
4) Aim for Impact
An effective one-page CV is better than an ineffective two-page CV, always consider your audience and what they hope to learn from your CV. Remember that your CV has one job: to get you to interview. Once you get there, then you can talk through your work and projects in more detail. But the CV is the deciding factor. Aim for impact, not length.
5) Be assertive
It’s not always what you communicate that matters, but how you communicate it. Thread facts and results through the examples and use active language that quantifies how you performed. For example, a statement such as ‘introduced an effective infrastructure that lead to a 15% increase in sales’ comes across better than ‘hit sales targets’. Your CV should be a persuasive argument for why you are best for the job. Language is a tool for you to express this effectively, so choose your words carefully ensure you are assertive.
6) Go the extra mile
Alongside putting together a CV, it can be helpful to assemble a set of case studies showing your top projects. This helps refocus the purpose of your CV, which is to convey the different areas of your experience. A case study can then complement this experience by showing the topline results achieved for a client or on a project. We’d recommend using the STAR model to write these – this is short for Situation, Task, Actions and Result. When you’re writing these, try and put yourself in an employer’s shoes.
When you are starting out, the education section of your CV is often the most important part. As a graduate, a degree from a prestigious university can help you get a foot in the door. However, after several years’ experience in the field, it is unlikely this is something you will be asked about in detail, so it should default from the start to the end of your CV. Although a prestigious university can help support an already positive impression, it’s experience in a job that counts. 
Top tip:Your CV is a sales tool
This is not the time to be humble. Equally, this is no time to take credit for projects you didn’t work on. Be factual, and shout loud and clear about your best achievements. In the digital age, we are all brands, so make sure that you give yourself the best sales pitch possible. Think of your CV as a piece of marketing collateral to sell yourself to potential ‘customers’ (that is: employers). Just describing the duties you performed doesn’t effectively get across how you carried out the role, so you need to focus on the results you achieved and how this better positions you for the contract.
Here at Selby Jennings, we are experts when it comes to filling contractor roles and helping contractors secure work. If you’re a contractor looking for a new opportunity or a business hoping to secure a contractor for a project get in touch today.