4. IT contractor guide: how to write a good CV
Your CV should be no more than two pages long. Think quality, not quantity. On average, readers absorb 60% of the first page, 40% of the second, and the third is generally a waste - this has been proven time and time again.
Use an effective summary on the first page and include a list of your key skills and key applications in bold. You want to make an impact on the reader.
Hirers often make up their mind from reading the initial summary and key skills. So, it is always worthwhile noting the quantity of experience you have for each key skill, e.g. Business Analysis (5 Years), Database Design (4 Years), etc.
Tailor the CV to the company/department and position whenever possible - although this may be time-consuming, it could help you clinch that job! So, in the 'position sought' section, always tailor the role to the one on offer.
Put the greatest emphasis on your last few roles, and summarise older roles.
Always begin with your most recent position - include dates and months of employment for each. Do not indicate "to present" if you are no longer contracting in the position as some employers are actively looking for only those candidates who can commence immediately.
Where IT contractors have difficulty finding work (such as in a downturn), some employers suspect that such candidates seeking permanent roles will return to future contract employment as soon as the opportunity arises. Your CV probably shows each contract as a 'separate employment'. Re-write your CV showing your limited company as your employer and your contracts as external consultancy assignments (as if you were a 'Big 5' Consultant). This is legally correct and will present you in a more 'suitable' light. [Thanks to BestCVs.com for this tip]
Foreign Languages - as more and more contractors are considering working overseas, you should include your competence in other languages (basic, good, fluent), but you should be honest. Several of our agency contacts have sent contractors to interview on the basis of their claimed fluency in 'Dutch' for example, only to be rejected. So, if you only have 'O-Level French', then you have 'basic French'.
Do not provide personal data such as age, marital status, graduation dates, weight, height, place of birth and items of this nature. You can include information about your interests, but keep it short.
There is no need to include your 'hobbies' - if you enjoy 'walking in the Pennines', it will have no bearing on your suitability as an AP! If you have some outstanding acheivements, such as 'Olympic rower' or suchlike, there is clearly no harm in mentioning this, and it may enhance the interview.
Don't include your required rate. You cannot win - the figure will often be too high, or sometimes even too low. You can negotiate the rate after you've got the job!
Take advantage of technology - email your CV to agencies or submit it on agency sites. Many Job Search Sites provide a CV submission service at no cost - your details will be sent to hundreds of agencies. An excellent way to get noticed!
Make sure your CV has a clear structure - include career overview, skills overview, qualifications (education/professional) and employment history.
Skip the platitudes, everyone says 'they work well on their own initiative as well as part of a team'.
Think 'what can I offer' more than 'what have I done' and present experience and achievements for previous clients in this way.
Be positive - don't be too modest and don't lie about your experience. Positive thinking is vital in securing that next contract.
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.