Contractors' Questions: Should I put my Covid-19 support work on my CV?
Contractor’s Question: I'm a PM who has been out of work for the past few months. But the last month, I've been creating PPE devices to help with the Covid-19 protection effort. It's a short-term role, with probably only another month or two go until they hit their target.
Now, I'm updating my CV and career-wise, it currently shows quite a big gap from my last PM role (three months ago). But if I include my time making PPE devices it doesn't look so bad. Would you recommend I add to my CV the time doing this coronavirus-related work, even though it is of no relevance to my career?
Expert’s Answer: Thanks to you for helping out during this challenging time. From a CV standpoint, there are two angles to tackle this from.
Firstly, on a human level, everyone should see your experience making PPE devices positively. You are demonstrating some fine qualities and a willingness to contribute to the nation’s efforts to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. From this perspective, a couple of lines added to your CV would fill the short career gap and demonstrate some extremely positive traits.
However, we also must consider the machines as well as humans! And without wanting to sound like the Terminator films, machines(or recruitment software to be precise), are an unescapable part of the world we live in.
For example, if you write: ‘March 2020 to present – Ford Motor Company – PPE Assembler’, the recruitment systems, when they analyse or parse your CV, will see this as being your current role and fail to see a match when analysing your suitability for Project Manager roles! This would inevitably hurt your chances when seeking contract work through online applications and software-using recruitment agencies (that’s almost all of them I’d say!).
More positively, this would be less of an issue if you used your own network of contacts to find a contract or if you’re sending your CV directly to a client.
So how do you square these two angles? My recommendation is this -- add a line or two about your recent experience outside of the ‘Experience / Career History’ section, so your most recent role, as far as the recruitment software is concerned, is still Project Management-focused. This will optimise your CV for recruitment system algorithms while ensuring your recent, worthwhile Covid-19 support experience gets some airtime!
You could create a ‘Current Situation’ section on your CV, mention it in your opening ‘Profile / Summary’ or talk about it in a cover letter or introductory email.
Furthermore, just to reassure you, I would suggest that three months is not a big gap in the grand scheme of things, and most recruiters / clients will understand why that gap exists.
Your personal brand
As I noted above, when networking your way into a contract or sending your CV direct-to-client, the issue of the machines killing your chances does not exist, and you may feel -- rightly so in my view, that your recent, socially-conscious, coronavirus relief work supports your personal brand.
Personal branding is fundamental to selling yourself and developing your contractor business in the same way that most companies develop their brand and identity, so why not promote this few months of ‘giving something back’ in a robust way? It certainly could help you stand out from the crowd – a key objective of personal branding.
On the subject of personal branding, we will be running a webinar on Monday June 29th on this very topic including how to leverage thought-leadership to win more work at higher rates. You can find out more here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6719347961680189708
The expert was Matt Craven, a work-winning adviser to contractors and the founder of LinkedIn and CV specialists The CV & Interview Advisors.