Why it's no longer a case of best contractor gets the job

I received an email the other day from a Mark Creaser who has set up his own business consultancy, writes Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors.

Creaser likes to send out thought-provoking emails to his database to keep his audience engaged. I may not ever do business with him but I do enjoy his writing style. This particular email referenced the US election and was aimed at SME businesses, but the relevance for one-person contractor companies here in the UK is perhaps even more pronounced. The key part of the email I want you to think about went something like this:

“There are LOTS of business owners who think they 'deserve' better. They deserve more customers, more sales, more profits. Just because they run a GOOD business.

That's not the way the world works.

The best footballer isn't always the one who earns the most money.

The best author doesn't necessarily sell the most books.

The truth is that to be successful in business (and politics) you don't have to be the best at what you do, you just have to be the best MARKETER of what you do”.

Well it got me thinking about my industry (Personal Branding) and how many contractors and interim managers consider themselves to be high performers but fail to get their desired results. I’m often asked by contractors why I think their phone isn’t ringing off the hook with offers. The question is often asked with an element of incredulity as if to suggest there is some foul play at hand; but of course, the answer is always going to be that their marketing strategy, and more to the point, their marketing collateral (CV and LinkedIn profile) is falling short.

I would estimate that for every contractor who is hired, there were half a dozen better candidates who put themselves forward for the opportunity but who never even secured an interview. Why? Because their CV and LinkedIn profile wasn’t compelling enough.

Following on from Mark’s ponderings, I would suggest that nowadays it’s no longer the case that the best person gets the job; rather, it’s the person with the best CV and LinkedIn profile.

If you’re wondering if that’s you, here’s a quick checklist of what I see as the most crucial aspects of a CV and LinkedIn profile:

  • Prominent contact details so that a recruiter / hiring manager can easily contact you.
  • An obvious description of what you are e.g. IT Infrastructure Project Manager.
  • A value proposition statement -- what is it that you do and how does it benefit your clients?
  • A list of key skills to ensure your CV is ‘ATS-optimised’ (Applicant Tracking System-optimised) and LinkedIn is SEO-optimised.
  • Add context to the career history with a role summary before the standard bullet points.
  • Lots of achievements i.e. examples of projects or initiatives where you drove a business benefit. I would advise writing the best of these as case studies using the STAR formula.
  • Recommendations from credible people e.g. client or stakeholder.

These are just the basics; for a more in-depth look at ‘Advanced CV Writing and LinkedIn for Contractors’, join us this Thursday -- November 24th at 19.15 for a free ContractorUK webinar. You can sign up here.

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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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