Should I tailor my CV and risk agencies receiving several versions of my skills?

Contractor’s Question: It’s been suggested to me that tailoring a CV to the opportunity is almost cheating!

While in my gut I believe tailoring should increase my chances of success, doesn’t tailoring a CV give rise to the prospect of contractor recruiters ending up with several versions of my CV?! Surely that wouldn’t be helpful to anyone.

Expert’s Answer: The best way to tackle this, is to think of your CV as your bid, tender, or pitch for a given opportunity.

For once, IR35 doesn't matter (as much)

Regardless of your status as inside or outside IR35, it’s always beneficial as a contractor to think about what other commercial entities vying for work would do -- especially if you are eyeing an outside IR35 opportunity.

Typically, a bonafide businesses would send a targeted bid, issue a tender document or deliver a pitch for each contract they are keen on winning. They wouldn’t send the same tender document that they sent for a previous opportunity with another client!

Recruiters just care about one thing!

As for recruiters ending up with multiple CVs, don’t worry! They really don’t care - as long as they have the ammo to make a successful placement and generate themselves a fee, they tend to be happy. A targeted CV will aid their endeavours more so than a misaligned and generic CV.

What sections on a CV to tailor

So the answer to the question is that you should most definitely be sending a CV targeted to that specific contract opportunity. Obviously your CV will have a certain element of static data -- you are selling the same person / business after all, but there are key elements of your CV that will need tailoring, including:

  1. Your ‘go to market’ description after your name;
  2. The description that you use in your CV’s ‘Profile’ section;
  3. Your Value Proposition Statement;
  4. The key strengths you have which you feature in the Profile;
  5. The skills listed in your ‘Key Skills’ section; and
  6. The STAR- case studies you select (you want to outline and describe client assignments that are relevant).

I can assist you with ALL of these things. But also when tailoring a CV, I would recommend looking at making some small but significant changes to your CV’s ‘Experience’ section, so the content you present fits snugly with the contract brief.

Meet my local plumber…

And to offer one further piece of advice, I first need to tell you about my plumber!

Well, when my fixer of drips, leaks and pipes arrived the other day, I was dazzled by his new van! He’s had it sign-written; wrapped with his company logo, emblazoned with his contact details and for the avoidance of doubt that you’ll miss him, some fancy graphics too! It’s actually not as garish as it sounds; it looks the biz

I told him the truth -- it comes across as really professional. He told me his van is his main source of business. Well, I’d suggest his van is your CV. In fact, other than maybe your LinkedIn profile, your CV is likely to be your main source of business just as his is his van. But how much time, thought, effort, or money have you put into your CV of late? Oh, and just to reassure you, my plumber says he’s jam-packed compared to before when he hadn’t pimped his ride!   

Help is at hand

If my last question enquiring about when you last invested in your CV pinched a nerve, then come and join our upcoming webinar, so we can get your tender document back on track. So on Monday April 25th, we will show you how to build a highly effective CV as a contractor, with a focus on how to create a modular, but customisable document that you can tailor for each opportunity that you like the look of – in just a few minutes.

We’ll also go into detail about how to customise your CV to beat the ATS while also getting the attention of recruiters and clients, for the right reasons. And last but not least, we’ll show you how to do this if you are seeking outside IR35 roles -- where a traditional CV is not really in keeping with your status. See you there!

The expert was Matt Craven, managing director of the CV & Interview Advisors.

Wednesday 13th Apr 2022
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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