15 top tips to turbo-charge your contractor business out of covid fatigue

As contractors increasingly get back to the grindstone and brush off covid-19 fatigue, it is crucial to develop a robust marketing strategy --assuming you want to get ahead of the increasingly stiff competition in the contract market, writes personal branding and winning-work expert Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors.

In a time of 'no-nonsense' triggered by us all refreshing from coronavirus impacts, here are my top 15 tips for IT contracting success -- vital to succeeding in the post-pandemic world.

  1. Make sure you tailor your CV for each and every opportunity you apply for – a generic CV is a failing CV.
  1. Ensure your CV focuses on outcomes as much as it does tasks – a great CV proves you are good at what you do by providing evidence of business benefits.
  1. Always send your CV in the latest version of Microsoft Word rather than a PDF – recruiters need to remove contact details, and PDFs don’t perform very well when being analysed by recruitment software.
  1. Optimise your CV for recruitment software by making sure it is keyword-rich; has obvious headings and job titles, and has a postcode for geographic searches.
  1. To show you are outside IR35, always list a proper business email address on your CV opposed to a personal ‘Hotmail’ or ‘Gmail’ address – proper businesses have proper business email addresses.
  1. Do not solely rely on recruitment agencies, build a network of contacts / decision-makers on LinkedIn, and use networking and business development to secure contract work.
  1. Add previous clients to your LinkedIn network and keep in contact with them with a view to securing repeat business. In any other business, repeat business is the key to success – are you applying this logic?
  1. Request recommendations from existing / previous clients -- you are 3-times more likely to be contacted about a contract role if you have solid social proof on your LinkedIn profile.
  1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is as well-written as your CV and focuses on selling your services to potential clients – most recruiters use LinkedIn to source contractors, so your ‘shop window’ must be attractive.
  1. Never put your limited company as your first position on your CV (unless you have an IR35-friendly case study-style CV), but do add it as your first position on LinkedIn – this optimises your CV for recruitment software while LinkedIn gives the right message to HMRC.
  1. Use the 220-character headline on LinkedIn to tell a prospective client how you can help them – this is called a ‘value proposition’ and is designed to make it clear what you do and how that will benefit your target audience.
  1. Treat recruiters as an extension of your client’s business rather than adversaries – they are nothing more and nothing less than a channel to market.
  2. Experienced contractors looking at winning work between now and after April 2021 (post-private sector IR35 reform) – consider a case study-style CV to portray yourself as a true business rather than a ‘job-seeker’ to give your clients the confidence that you are outside IR35. Do the same if you’re a contractor going forward for public sector contracts (where the foundational framework for the 2021 reforms are already in force and have been since April 2017)
  3. When shortlisted for a role, send a ‘supporting statement’ to the recruiter that explains how you meet all requirements on the job description / contract brief – this will help the recruiter to 'sell' you to the client.
  4. A 12-month contract at £500 per day is a £120k investment from the client – treat an interview exactly like a salesperson would treat a sales call to pitch for a £120k contract!

To delve into some of these points in more detail, we’ll be running a ‘winning-work’ webinar tomorrow  -- August 25th at 7.15pm, exclusively for ContractorUK readers, on how to write a CV that will turbo-charge your contractor business in a still recovering yet highly competitive market: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1859414208971897104

Monday 24th Aug 2020
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Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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