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Maintaining an Effective Contractor CV – Keep It Relevant

As a contractor, your CV is often the first impression recruiters get of you. It needs to stand out and showcase your skills, but that’s not all. Here at Contracting Scout, we believe relevancy is the key.

Keep reading to find out how an up-to-date and relevant CV can help you consistently secure contracts.


Why your CV matters

Whatever your speciality, you’re going to need a CV to apply for contracts. As we’re all well aware, it’s how recruiters filter through applications and select candidates for interview. However, it’s not something they usually put all their time into. Research into recruiter behaviour found that, on average, recruiters spend just six seconds looking at each CV.

Using gaze tracking technology; it was found that their initial review focussed on name, current title and position, previous titles and positions and education. Essentially, this is a fit / no fit decision before reading CVs in a bit more depth.

It’s possible to tailor your CV based on these findings by making it clear and easy to read. An organised layout and visual hierarchy are highlighted as ways to make key data points easier and faster to review. Get all the essential information in at the top, using bullet points to keep things clear and concise. It’s also helpful to avoid distracting visuals like profile images or complex, unnecessary graphics.


Stay relevant

Another key step is to make sure your CV is relevant to the position being applied for. If recruiters look straight to your previous roles and see no link to the position they’re contracting for, your CV is likely to end up on the ‘no fit’ pile. Instead, tailor the information you provide to the specific role you’re applying for.

As such make sure all the skills and experience you list are relevant to that role and industry. More specifically, have you completed projects similar to the one being applied for? This could be in size, duration or simply location. It’s best to focus on anything that shows your relevant experience and how you’re prepared for the contract on offer.

Your most recent role typically comes first on a CV, so highlight any relevant aspects from that in the job description or responsibilities. If there are any previous contracts you’ve worked on that are particularly relevant, be sure to include them over other, more general roles.

According to the aforementioned eye-tracking research, recruiters look for keywords, rather than reading through your whole list of roles, titles and responsibilities. So, be sure to look through the job brief, identify key skills or requirements, and include those phrases in your CV.


Updating your CV

In regular employment, workers typically change roles every five years. In that time, they won’t need to update their CV that much. Staying in the same job means gaining the same experience, keeping the same responsibilities and using the same skills. In contrast, contractors change role after each contract, which could be as short as a few months. Research conducted on umbrella employees by the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association found that the average assignment length in 2017 was 29 weeks, which has doubled since 2015, but still nowhere near 5 years.

With that in mind, it’s important to stay on top of your CV and keep it up to date. After each contract, make a note of the job details – start date, end date, title, company and the tasks carried out. Keep the notes on file so you can use them to include any relevant information when you’re applying for specific contracts.

Don’t forget your qualifications either. With contract work less permanent than regular employment, many contractors choose to take training or earn additional qualifications in between jobs. These certifications or qualifications could set you apart from other applicants, so it’s important to give them prominence in your CV.

This will all amount to a CV that shows progression. Remember, recruiters want contractors at the top of their game. By displaying relevant experience and qualifications gained over time, they can see how you have progressed through your career – preparing you for the contract on offer.


How recruiters can help

With an in-depth understanding of your jobs market, specialist recruiters could provide the edge to secure interviews and job roles using your CV. They can advise you on ways to improve your CV, highlighting common pitfalls and areas for improvement. It’s this that gets your CV to the top of the pile.

The value added doesn’t end there. Recruiters don’t just send off your CV. They have personal relationships and two-way contact with hiring companies, so they can represent you, highlight your strengths and explain anything that’s hard to get across in your CV. Upon offer, they have the skills to sell you as a candidate and negotiate the best package for you. If things don’t go to plan, recruiters can even get invaluable feedback from employers that’s hard to access when applying alone.


Specialist assistance for contractors

The quality of your CV can be pivotal in the search for contracting work, and working with a recruitment consultant is a great way to make sure it’s performing at its best.

Just like recruiters, consultants read and filter through countless CVs every day. They know exactly what’s needed to secure interviews and how to write, update and fine-tune CVs for maximum impact.

If you need financial assistance while looking for your next role, we can help. From tax queries to mortgage and insurance solutions, Contracting Scout offers a range of accountancy and financial services.

To speak more about any of our services, get in touch with our team.

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