IR35 clangers on CVs: four mistakes bonafide contractors must delete

So IR35 reform in the private sector has come to pass and almost everyone we come across is pretty fed up with it, but undeniably, things are changing and we all need to change with it – not least, the requirements of a CV, writes Matt Craven of The CV & Interview Advisors.

Let’s look at some CV faux pas made by contractors who want to receive an outside IR35 determination.

Delete ‘Employment History’

Well, this one really speaks for itself, but the number of contractor CVs we see that still wrongly have an Employment History section raises some eyebrows!

I feel daft even pointing out what is wrong with this, but for the avoidance of doubt, contractors aren’t “employed”, they are “engaged,” notably as “suppliers”. Naming this section of your CV ‘Experience’ would be an improvement, and ‘Experience / Assignments’ even better.

‘CV’ or not ‘CV’?

Ok, so regardless of whether every recruiter in the land has cottoned onto the whole ‘post-IR35 reform CV-thing,’ should contractors still be calling it a ‘CV’? Surely, contractors who want to get on the right (less taxing) side of IR35 reform should rename their CV as ‘business brochure’ or ‘assignment portfolio’?

It is regarded as bad form to write ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top of your main sales document as a work-seeker. That’s even though many candidates still do it!

Generally-speaking, nobody should really give the name of what everyone will still immediately identify as a ‘CV’ (no matter what you’d like to call it) too much thought. Except of course, make sure you hit the ‘delete’ key if you’ve written your preferred title in the document’s header.

Email impressions count

If you’re anything like me, you will look upon IT-businesses using a Hotmail or Gmail email address less positively than those with a proper business domain. Nowadays, even your local tradesperson looks a bit naff if they haven’t bothered to set up a proper email address!

Without stating the obvious, IR35 is all about being a ‘true’ business, and true businesses shouldn’t really have Hotmail addresses and the like, or make use of overly personal names or moments ([email protected] won’t give you the professionalism you should be seeking)!  

Social proof versus references

Once again, let’s make a comparison with what most other bonafide businesses do to see if your bonafide business is up to par. A proper, successful business doesn’t create a brochure or flyer and just stick at the end “references are available on request”. What they will probably do, is provide some client feedback, often in quotation marks.

In short, a contractor CV should have Recommendations (some call them ‘testimonials’). These can be lifted straight from the Recommendations on your LinkedIn profile if need be.

Help is at hand!

If you would like my team to review your CV, you can submit yours for a free 1-2-1 review here: We promise to be gentle and provide some constructive feedback about all elements of your CV.

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.

Wednesday 5th May 2021
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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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