Contractors, is your CV still stuck in 2006?

A moment ago I cast my mind back to 2006, and it’s surprising at just how much everything has changed in the last 10 years. YouTube had just been acquired by Google and was still to take off; Facebook was unavailable to the public until September 2006 and on-demand video was yet to go mainstream. Indeed, having video on mobile phones was regarded as state-of-the-art! Also back then, we were all blissfully unaware of the impending financial meltdown.

The same can be said for the recruitment industry -- the way in which end-users recruit and select talent has changed enormously over the past decade and this has big implications for contractors, writes Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors.

Fast forward from 2006 to the present day and LinkedIn is now a major global platform; ATS technology is mainstream, psychometric profiling is much more sophisticated and ‘Personal Branding’ has become the buzz word for self-marketing in both the permanent and contract labour markets.

Your CV and LinkedIn profile: have they moved with the times?

The issue we find that too many freelance and contract professionals face is that they are still stuck in 2006. CV formats, LinkedIn requirements and channels-to-market have all changed in the last 10 years but how many otherwise shrewd candidates are still using the same strategy they did in 2006? I still hear professional people telling me they don’t use LinkedIn because they ‘don’t like social media’ and, similarly, I still see contractors using the same CV methodology that they used when they left education.

The central point that both these parties are failing to grasp is this: the recruitment landscape has changed and those that will succeed will keep abreast of the new developments by responding to the changing world around them or pre-empting those changes.

Here are four of the key considerations that any contractor looking to advance their CV and LinkedIn profile should make to succeed in 2016, and these will be drilled down in more detail in our webinar for ContractorUK readers in Wednesday January 27th.

1. Embrace Personal Branding

All businesses have a brand; they have a position in their market place and a clear proposition that is aligned with their customers’ needs. They define their go-to-market pitch and value proposition and invest in marketing collateral to promote their services to their audience. Contractors are businesses too and should be doing exactly the same; your CV and LinkedIn profile should define your brand, your value proposition and be very clear about your service offering. A 2006 CV that simply lists your past placements and contracts with half a dozen bullet points describing your duties and responsibilities isn’t going to cut it in today’s competitive landscape.

2. Use Case Studies

Anyone in marketing will tell you how powerful case studies are - look at the websites of leading consultancy firms and you’ll see lots of case studies describing the capabilities of the firm using real life examples. You can do exactly the same to give people eying your service or skills real-life examples of the assignments that you have completed for clients. Focus heavily on the results and business benefits that you have driven through. It is critical to emphasise outcomes rather than just the task you were engaged for and this is how you can justify higher rates and pitch for bigger and more high profile pieces of work. The outcomes (use statistics where at all possible) prove you can deliver business benefits. rendering your daily rate a secondary consideration. It’s all about transforming your CV from a one dimensional list into a business case that explains why a client should engage your services.

3. Get LinkedIn-Savvy

LinkedIn is a global phenomenon and exceeded 400million members in late 2015. It has become the largest ‘talent’ database in the world and is where recruiters and companies search for candidates (both for permanent and contract roles). Knowing how to write an effective LinkedIn profile is similar to writing the content for an effective website and developing a networking strategy will pay huge dividends for winning work in 2016. Bear in mind – almost nine in ten recruiters and hiring managers will check out your profile on LinkedIn prior to inviting you for an interview or meeting, so getting your ‘ducks in a row’ on LinkedIn is essential

4. Being your own Marketing Manager

All businesses need to do some form of marketing to succeed and grow -- your business is no different. Many contractors tell us they do marketing-type activities when their existing contract is due to end. But those contractors who have control over their workload tend to have an ongoing strategy that requires a small amount of time albeit on a more frequent basis. Having your CV and LinkedIn profile up-to-date and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice will help. Combine this with a sustainable networking strategy that puts you and your professional offering in front of as many of the right eyes as possible, and you’ll be coasting! Successful businesses have strong marketing collateral and access to a large amount of potential customers. To succeed as a contractor the same logic applies, so make sure your collateral is up-to-date; in keeping with the latest best practice methodologies and that you have a deep network of decision-makers that you can promote your services to.

Take action

Fresh from us featuring on BBC Radio, our team will be presenting the latest CV methodologies (which can also be applied to your LinkedIn profile) in a ContractorUK webinar on Wednesday January 27th. You can register here for this in-depth webinar and, if you really want to optimise your chances of contracting success in 2016, sign-up too for a CV and LinkedIn critique – free for readers of ContractorUK using this unique link.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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