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.
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!
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.