Contractors’ Questions: Do technical interview tests have a place in my consultancy portfolio?

Contractor’s Question: As part of my goal to become a fully-fledged consultant, as opposed to my agency contracting days of yesteryear, I’m building a portfolio to showcase my work.

To give it an edge and pack it out, is it a good idea to approach some of my past interviewers and technical testers who asked me to perform tasks which I know performed quite well on?

Three especially stand out; one with a top brand; and two that got me a call-back.

Would I need permission to use the produced work/tasks for the portfolio? I doubt it as I was not engaged or on-contract, just interviewing. I do worry I might have to admit that the tests were for opportunities which I did not secure, yet they do showcase the breadth of my skills.

Expert’s Answer: Creating a portfolio of your work is a great idea – it’s something my company, The CV & Interview Advisors, calls a ‘Career Autobiography.’

The ‘CA’ is essentially a log or record of all the good stuff you have done in your career! The idea behind it is to have an example for every skill that you may need to demonstrate when pitching for work. It’s the perfect way to prepare for interviews / client meetings and become self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses.

In terms of the tasks mentioned in your question, much depends on where this information is going to be made available. I see no reason why these can’t be referenced as stemming from an interview / client meeting or business pitch. As to permission, so long as there was no signed confidentiality agreement or NDA, which would seem highly unlikely, then I doubt your work would be theirs to not use.

Actually, my note of caution is different to what you might expect. In particular, while offering some value, your experience born out of an interview / skills assessment task is likely to be trumped by someone who has applied these competencies or abilities in a more ‘live’ setting. Having these examples in the forefront of your mind to draw upon in an interview is one thing, but showcasing them on your CV or LinkedIn profile, or another work-winning platform like a CA, might be a step too far, given that it was a task done within an interview setting.

That said, having a more portfolio-based CV is a great idea for contractors and consultants who want to do everything they can to help keep IR35 at bay. A traditional chronological CV is still appropriate in many scenarios, but having a more portfolio-based document may well be the order of the day come April 2020 when the new off-payroll rules come into play and are more defined than they are today.

As well as producing regular chronological CVs for limited company contractors, we have developed a style of new, increasing popular CV format that forfeits the traditional career history, in favour of a portfolio of mini-case studies. Under the right conditions, it works a treat and is certainly more aligned with an outside IR35 status determination.

This style of CV would be perfect for someone like you who wants to create and promote a portfolio of work / assignments. But to reiterate, that Career Auto-Biography or portfolio would probably be best focused on pieces of work done within a live, business setting rather than an interview.

For more help and information about creating a CV for the contract or consultancy market that conveys the impression you want to deliver, you can register for our upcoming Contractor UK webinar ‘The 8-Point Plan to a World Class Contractor CV’. It’s on Thursday March 19th at 7.15pm and you can register for free here:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2906652851068561665

Thursday 30th Jan 2020
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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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