You may be the best person for the project, but if your contractor CV doesn’t result in at least 2-3 interview requests per week, it’s not working as well as it could be.
Discover the tactics overlooked by many but that are vital to winning more contractor opportunities.
1. Have a CV for every role
The nature of contractor work is that your role may change from one contract to the next. Be selective in the roles you highlight. Luckily, you should have a lot more experience to draw on than a permanent employee.
For example, if you’re going for a Change Management Project Manager role, then focus on these. Don’t be tempted to use a more generic Project Manager role. Make it easy for them to see that you’re the right person for the job.
To make it easy to apply for roles quickly in future, you should have CVs prepared for the most common roles your experience matches. You can then tweak those CVs slightly before submitting them for roles.
If you’re dealing with an agency, make sure that you ask for the Job Description. You can then tailor your CV to this. If they are unwilling to provide it, then alarm bells should ring.
2. Use case studies to demonstrate key achievements
Every CV should focus on key achievements and results, but for contractors it is imperative. However, we still see a lot of CVs where contractors fail to prove that they will provide an ROI – or at least fail to do so concisely.
The front page of your CV should include a few, relevant case studies which prove that you will deliver an ROI for the client. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result), with no more than 1 to 2 lines for each. Use the keyword ‘Achievements’ to highlight your results.
3. Highlight any technical and functional skills on the first page
As a contractor, you are hired for your expertise. Your CV should therefore highlight your technical and functional skills, not your soft skills (these will be assessed during the interview process).
Instead of leaving any relevant technical and functional skills on the last page, feature them on the first page in bullet point form. Some contractors use a sliding scale to highlight their level of expertise for key technical skills.
4. Get past the ATS gatekeeper
Your CV may stand out once it is seen by somebody, but it needs to get past the first gatekeeper (and it’s not a recruitment consultant). Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) are constantly evolving their algorithms for how they filter out CVs and so your CV needs to include the relevant keywords.
Optimising your CV includes much more than simply making sure you include your target job title in your career history. Here are the ATS optimisation tips that are commonly overlooked:
- Place your aspired job title at the top after your name, not your last (or most common) role.
- Be specific in your Profile/Summary. A Business Change Professional could be any number of roles. What are you?
- Use ‘expert in’ or ‘expertise’ instead of ‘duties include’.
- Avoid the use of ‘employment’ anywhere on your CV. Instead, you should put “Career History/Experience”.
- Include the locations of where you are prepared to work. Clients do not know if you’re fully flexible and will often search within a set radius of their location.
5. Include LinkedIn recommendations
If you’re not using LinkedIn regularly, you are missing a vital trick. Even if you find most of your contractor opportunities via recommendations or agencies, your LinkedIn profile will be the first place that potential clients will look.
Look out for our upcoming blog on optimising your LinkedIn profile to receive contractor opportunities. But for now, make sure you request LinkedIn recommendations for every contract role. Include the best recommendations on your CV, state that these are a selection of your LinkedIn recommendations and provide a link to your LinkedIn profile.
If you’re struggling to secure enough contractor opportunities – or enough quality opportunities – then make sure to sign up to our webinar:
20 years-experienced contractor recruiter Damien Lee will be sharing how to sell your services effectively at interview, including common mistakes, how to frame case studies to show your ROI, secrets to win over the interviewer, and more.