New Year, new you? Your CV & LinkedIn profile are hoping so

I’m a member of a national business support group for SMEs run by a clever chap called Nigel Botterill. In his latest communication, he talked about business goals for 2018 and controversially said that over 80% of his group would fail to achieve their goals!

But actually, him and I probably share the same belief that over 80% of people in general won’t achieve their 2018 goals -- including contractors, writes Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors.

Why? Well there are two reasons. Firstly, people don’t write their goals down and plan how they are going to achieve them; and secondly, most people struggle with change! If we all do the same things we did in 2017 then the chances are that we will achieve about the same in 2018. Nevertheless, most people will start back at work in January and do all the same things they did last year.

Mark Zuckerberg famously said that “the biggest risk is taking no risk,” and we can apply that to our lives, our business and our careers. If we carry on doing the same things week in week out, then the results we achieve will be the same week in week out. So! What can we do differently?! Here are my suggestions:

Dust down your CV!

Most people are still using the same style of CV they have been using for years. At the end of each contract, it gets updated, but nothing fundamentally changes. The requirements of CVs have changed though, and in a tough and competitive market, recruiters and hiring managers are making shortlisting decisions based on the contents of your CV. If the content is weak, unenticing or underwhelming, then you won’t be shortlisted.

I often review a ‘cobwebby’ CV and almost every time I ask the person behind it how anyone can tell if they are good at their job? The response is nearly always the same -- they can’t!! Your CV must sell you and your accomplishments -- talk about outcomes and business benefits, not just tasks and responsibilities.

A 2018 CV should be aligned with your personal brand and it should include a value proposition statement i.e. what is the value that lies within your skills and experience and how will that benefit a future client. Do you have this? Check your CV right now to see. If you don’t, you’re helping yourself towards the ‘reject’ pile.

Your CV in 2018 should include a selection of key strengths and key skills that are aligned with the position that you are applying for and incorporate some case studies (or at the very least, some examples of your work). It should also be optimised for recruitment software and include social proofing.

If your CV remains the same as it was in 2017 then expect the same if not less interviews in the tightening 2018 market.

Don’t ignore your public profile!

Over 500 million people have a LinkedIn account so that effectively means your profile is there for the world at large to scrutinise. And they do! In fact, over 85% of recruiters and hiring managers check out shortlisted candidates on LinkedIn and that doesn’t factor in the many candidates who were found through LinkedIn in the first place. None of us would buy from a company with a shoddy website and no decent reviews, so why would anyone hire a contractor with a shoddy LinkedIn profile and no decent recommendations?

What you write in your profile, who you are connected to and what posts you send out into the world matter. Why not make 2018 the year that you embrace LinkedIn -- get your profile communicating the right message, start building your network of contacts (being well-connected is a good thing right?), and start posting some interesting content. You’re only a few written articles, blogs and webinars away from being a thought-leader in your sector and LinkedIn is the perfect platform for embarking on this journey.

Those people who are using thought-leadership as part of their self-promotion and personal branding strategy are reaping tremendous results. If you have some knowledge or expertise that someone would benefit from, then get that out into the world and raise your profile. There are people out there making significant money from selling e-books on everything from how to create corn dollies  -- to the secrets of tiddlywinks. People are hungry for knowledge and if you have some expertise that someone else is looking for then use that as a tool for building relationships with useful people (in your case -- clients, recruiters and hiring managers).

Still with the same client?

This isn’t the moment to get too bogged down with IR35 but there are many contractors who have been with the same client for many years who might be due a change. Not only because their ‘independent’ status would benefit from it, but also because variety is the spice of life. If we are suggesting 2018 should be the year to make that leap -- and I am, then there are some things to consider.

Firstly, let’s go back to your CV. Does it look better to put your three-year stint with one client as one entry or would it be better to split each individual project out? We have to judge each situation on its merit, but I would default to the latter and create a new entry for each individual project / contract extension.

The alternative is to opt for a case study-style CV which drops the ‘career history’ in its traditional sense and replaces it with a portfolio of case studies. This style of CV is much more ‘IR35-friendly’ and works great for direct approaches. Among recruiters it gets a mixed reception with some loving it and some being tied to the chronological format. My advice? Have both!

If you are looking to move clients, you’ll need contacts, so start working on that now. The likelihood in these first weeks of the new year is that they too are feeling pro-active, and very possibly feeling the lure of turning over a new leaf.

Seek out the key companies, decision-makers and recruiters in your world and actively reach out to them so they become connections. Do it now, and don’t delay because now is the perfect time, just as the whole business community gears up for another year. You will then be visible to them, they will see your activity and you can contact each other directly through LinkedIn’s in-mail. Little wonder I’m a big fan of the Celestine Prophecy with the key message being ‘the more people you interact with, the more likely it is that opportunities will come your way.’

To learn more about getting ahead this year as a contractor, Contractor UK has arranged an online workshop with me, on Jan 23rd between 7.15pm and 8.15pm. It’s on ‘Advanced CV Writing and LinkedIn Strategies for Contractors – What’s New for 2018.’ And there’s plenty that is new, so start this year as you mean to go on by taking part! You can register for the free webinar here: https://cvandinterviewadvisors.co.uk/webinars/registration/23rd-january-cuk

You can also get a FREE review of your CV and LinkedIn profile here. 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.

Tuesday 9th Jan 2018