How to Write a Contractor CV

(4 minutes to read)

Selling yourself to potential clients is a vital part of securing contract work. It simply doesn’t matter how qualified and capable you are – if you can’t get through the door to interview, you are never going to make it in the contractor marketplace.

The vast majority of contractors make the switch from permanent employment to contract work and most of the common CV mistakes stem from this. Simply put – a contractor CV is not the same as a permanent employee’s CV. If you are going to present yourself in a way that stands out, you need to keep this in mind at all times.

Key Differences When Writing a Contractor CV

An interviewer looking to take on a permanent member of staff has a number of considerations. Will this person fit into the organisation? Is the candidate ambitious? Do they have a willingness to learn and take on new responsibilities? Where do they want to be five years from now? What’s their attitude like and how do they function as part of a team?

By and large, this is irrelevant when recruiting for a contractor. You are being hired to fix a specific problem or manage a specific task. Your first, second and third-most important attributes are skills, skills and skills. Can you meet the specific requirements of the contract? Yes? Great, let’s talk. No? Your CV is in the bin.

How to Present Yourself

So if skills are the most important thing, how do you communicate them effectively?

Above all else, make sure your CV clearly lays out your skills and capabilities. Short, bullet points of your technical qualifications and abilities are best. If you can use fewer words to make the point, cut it down. Avoid corporate jargon, unnecessary information and ‘filler’ – make your CV as easy to read as possible.

Keep your CV short. In our experience, recruiters and hirers both prefer a CV to be no more than three pages long and preferably two. If you find yourself writing more than this, ask yourself one question – does all this information directly help my chances of securing this role? Unless you are spectacularly qualified, it’s unlikely!

Common Pitfalls

A CV is a written summary of your professional capabilities. As such, it needs to reflect the fact that you are professional and capable! Look out for:

Spelling errors. Any recruiter will tell you that proper spelling is a surprisingly rare commodity! A simple spelling error catches attention immediately and not in a good way.

Grammatical mistakes. Just as with spelling, a poorly constructed sentence or mixing up words stands out. Get somebody to proof read your CV before submitting it anywhere.

Photographs. Does a photograph add anything to a CV? Unless you are applying for modelling jobs, leave it out.

Layout. Keep your presentation clean, neat, readable and simple. A ‘quirky’ CV will stand out – but for every hirer that likes it, others won’t! Unless you are certain that an eye catching, unusual CV, is a benefit for the role, keep it simple.

Fonts. Use the same font throughout and use a common, readable, sans-serif font like Calibri, Arial or Verdana.

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What to Include on your Contractor CV

About You. This section can be very brief – just your name, contact details and a brief summary of your skills. Your interests, hobbies and personal details aren’t required for a contract job – nor is a lengthy paragraph about the type of person you are.

Skills. By far the most important section. As above, all you need to illustrate that you have the expertise needed to deliver on the contract. Specific areas of expertise, the number of years’ experience and any technical qualifications should be listed in a concise, readable format.

Prior Jobs. Work through your recent contracts – there is no need to go back to the start of your employment history, especially if the work you were doing then isn’t relevant. These don’t need to be detailed – it is most important to demonstrate a consistent, active working history.

Further Information. If you have anything exceptional to include, do it! But steer clear of mundane or irrelevant information. This is also a good place to include your academic qualifications.

Cover Letter’s for Contractors

Some contractors will say that a covering letter is unnecessary. However, a well-executed cover letter can only help your chances of securing a role. Some might go unread – but if you can demonstrate in a few paragraphs that you are interested in the role, you have researched the company and you genuinely believe you are the best person to deliver on the contract, do it. A good cover letter can be the differentiating factor when an interviewer has multiple CVs to sift through.

Your Web Presence

They might insist they don’t do it, but every interviewer and recruiter will run your name into Google to see what crops up. Often, they are looking for anything that stands out as negative – so make sure there isn’t anything! A well-tended LinkedIn page will be the first port of call – make sure your privacy settings are relaxed enough that your employment history and skills can be viewed. This needs to tally with what’s on your CV.

Although not necessary, longer-term professional contractors often have their own website – as well as making you look more professional, this can be a good source of additional contract opportunities, so it’s worth considering if you are contracting for the long haul.

We hope you found this article useful. If you have managed to secure a contract role and are looking for a contractor accountant to handle your finances, or if you have any other questions, give us a call on 01442 795 100 or email jaime.thorpe@dolanaccountancy.com.

Why Dolan Accountancy?

Dolan Accountancy was set up by Simon J Dolan, the man behind the well-known brand SJD Accountancy. With over 25 years experience in the contracting marketing, Dolan Accountancy has the heritage, reputation and credibility you can trust. Working closely with our sister company, ContractorUmbrella, it means we can offer one low cost, fixed fee package at £95 + VAT per month. This gives you the flexibility of using both our Limited Company Accountancy Services and our award winning Umbrella Service, for one inclusive cost. We don’t believe in tiered packages or hidden extra fees, instead we aim to give you everything you need, including:

  • Free Company Formation – This is where it all begins. Once you have decided on an available name, we will form your company free of charge (if using our accountancy services) and it will be ready for you to use in as little as three hours.
  • Free use of ContractorUmbrella – With changes in Public Sector IR35 Legislation we understand that sometimes you are required to contract via an umbrella company. We will keep your limited company ticking over, while you work margin free via our sister company, ContractorUmbrella.
  • A Dedicated Accountant – Your accountant will be there for any company or personal tax advice that you require. We will never outsource work, even to internal teams.
  • Free Access to FreeAgent – The founder behind the multi award winning FreeAgent platform was one of Simon’s first clients, therefore it only seems fitting that we offer all of our clients access to FreeAgent, free of charge.
  • Free Business Banking – We have decided to waive our commission so our clients can use CashPlus free of charge for the first year, saving you £69.
  • Unlimited IR35 Status Reviews – We will review all of your contracts for IR35 purposes and provide you with our professional opinion as to its status.
  • Free Registered and Director’s Service Office Address – Sometimes you just don’t want your home address on display at Companies House. When you sign up to our accountancy services, we will offer the use of our address as an alternative.
  • Your Business and Personal Taxation Needs – This includes Company Accounts, Director’s Personal Tax Return, VAT Returns, Payroll, Corporation Tax and Dividend advice, to name just a few.

If you’d like to find out more about how Dolan Accountancy can help you and your business, please give us a call on 01442 795100 or email sophie.lewis@dolanaccountancy.com or jaime.thorpe@dolanaccountancy.com.

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