Five key traits of a killer CV for the contract market

Despite LinkedIn’s emergence as a key contractor marketing pillar, the humble old CV is still absolutely crucial to success in the contract IT jobs market, writes Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors.

And right now, amid news that jumping jobs or contracts can earn you more money, it’s even more crucial as many a contractor will be dusting of their résumé and readying it for submission.

But before you press ‘send,’ remember this -- We live in a digital world where buyers (your clients) are hyper-sensitive to anything that might look shoddy.

It’s more than likely that you’re exactly the same. For example, do you

• buy from companies with badly put together websites?
• embrace the sales person of a ‘successful’ firm that arrives in a torn old suit?
• do business with a firm whose rep hands you a dog-eared business card?

‘No’ or ‘probably not’ I bet you responded. Well, all you need to do is apply this logic to your CV and it should steer you in the right direction.

Here is just a flavour of the sort of tips, if followed correctly, will land you with a ‘killer’ CV, able to execute the contract market’s highest rates of pay.

1. Embrace social proofing

When was the last time you booked a holiday and didn’t check TripAdvisor? Likewise, recruiters and hiring managers check out your reviews (LinkedIn recommendations and company website testimonials, for example), so have a couple of really good ones at the back-end of your CV.

2. Tell your story

If you’re into marketing, you’ll be aware that story-telling is the new ‘thing’ but Aesop had this figured our years ago. There’s no arguing that stories are very powerful if you want to sell something, so have some stories (case studies) about your biggest achievements in your CV.

3. Benefits not features please

Another point straight out of the book of ‘tried and tested’ marketing. We’re always taught to sell the benefits of a service, not just the features. The same applies to your services, so on your CV, talk about the benefits of your skills and not just the features.

4. Beat the machines

Unfortunately, it’s not just a human that reads your CV; it also needs to be optimised for applicant tracking systems and recruitment software. This means that you need to make sure your CV is keyword rich, well signposted by using obvious headings, and unfortunately, rather plain when it comes to using graphics and designed elements.

5. Outcomes, not tasks

Or rather; ‘outcomes’ as well as ‘tasks.’ Most CVs I see are very task-based and my first question is ‘How can I tell that you are good at your job?’ It’s one of the ABCs of CV Writing but if you don’t focus on outcomes i.e. the results that you delivered, or put another way, the business benefits that you drove through, then you won’t be able to compete with the candidates that do.

For more information you can get a Free CV and LinkedIn review here. 

ContractorUK has partnered with the UK's leading authority on contractor CVs to provide a FREE review of your CV and LinkedIn profile. Contact The CV & Interview Advisors and one of their team will get back to you to discuss if your CV and LinkedIn profile matches up with industry best practice.

Friday 15th Feb 2019
Profile picture for user Matt Craven

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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