Our Tips to Write a Killer Contractor CV
Being a contractor or freelancer means being your own boss and taking on only the projects you like. In order to find work, however, individuals need to be able to advertise their skills in such a way as to attract the attention of their potential clients. Creating a great CV is a key element to achieve this. It allows you to promote your services and skills and needs to showcase a track record of providing excellent service and of completing projects to deadline. In essence, the main point of your contractor CV is to show potential clients that you can offer specific solutions to their short-term problems.
We’ve been contractors accountants for many years and have helped thousands of contractors and freelancers to grow their business – so, we’ve pooled our knowledge and put together a few tips to help you write a great CV.
Focus on Practical Benefits
One of the most important things to take into consideration when writing your CV and preparing to find jobs is that you need to focus on the benefits of your skills, not on the skills themselves. What can you offer a client? Show them why they should choose you above other contractors by telling them what your skills can do for them and their business.
The same is true of tasks you performed in the past. Instead of merely listing the work you did, which won’t show a potential client that you’re good at what you do, you should talk about the ‘outcomes’ of your work. Which results did you deliver? How did past clients benefit from your knowledge and expertise?
Tailor the CV to the Job (And Put Relevant Industry Experience First)
While it can be disheartening to hear, the truth is that people don’t often read CVs in-depth. They tend to skim a lot and take only around twenty seconds to decide whether to keep reading, which is why you should be concise and to the point. Due to this, it’s also important to place your relevant industry experience first; for every new role you apply for, change the order and focus of your skills section, as this can be what makes or breaks your CV.
Likewise, emphasise your most successful projects in the experience section by order of relevance – as a contractor, you probably have a lot of successful roles to choose from, but just pick the ones that you feel a potential client will instantly see value in. In addition, begin with your most recent position and include dates and months of employment.
Tailoring your CV to the company, project or job role you’re applying for is a crucial step of writing a brilliant contractor CV, but many individuals opt not to do it because they find this is a time-consuming process. While it may take some time away from the current projects at hand, it’s still vital that you tailor your CV from one application to another, as this will increase your chances.
If you’re writing a personal profile, don’t forget to tailor it either. Adapt it to match with the client’s needs and requirements instead of choosing a generic profile that won’t showcase how great you’d be for the job.
Provide Quantifiable Examples
Make sure to highlight your skills and previous work in your contractor CV; however, when doing so, it’s important to showcase the depth of the services you provided during past work (and can now provide to potential clients). Do this by quantifying the work you’ve done, such as how much money you were able to save a company or how many sales you were responsible for. These accomplishments will prove to prospective clients that you can do a good job for them.
Make sure to detail any other services you can offer. As a contractor, you’ll have a wide range of skills that can be useful to clients, so add them to your CV as well.
Make Use of Bullet Points Freely
No one wants to read a wall of text, especially not a business owner with a busy schedule who will, most likely, just skim your CV. Detailing your knowledge, skills, accomplishments, expertise and work history in-depth won’t cut it – make sure you’re using bullet points to easily show people what you can do for them. Bullet points allow you to get to point immediately, so potential clients can, at first glance, get all key information quickly.
Try to remove repetitive instances of ‘I’ and to write your CV in an active voice as well, in order to improve readability.
Optimise for Keywords
This may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re writing your contractor CV, but it’s, nonetheless, something to consider. Nowadays, many large companies use software to scan CVs and find relevant keywords, since this can help them to sort through hundreds of applications. If you intend to work for such a business, be aware of important keywords for the role; research the skillset required and match it to your experience.
This is also important if you use recruitment websites, since hiring managers will be able to find you if you make it easy for them. Optimise your CV for any terms you believe your potentials clients will be searching for. While your CV should be written in the active voice, as mentioned above (for example, ‘managing people’), you should ensure your keywords are written in passive voice (‘people management’), since people tend to type search terms that way.
Promote Your Skills on LinkedIn
Keywords are also important for LinkedIn, since they can help with internet searches. Link to your LinkedIn profile on your CV and make sure your online presence is just as up to date as your CV. Including LinkedIn can help you to enhance your professional position as a contractor, further showcase your knowledge and expertise, improve your credibility and let prospective clients learn more about your experience in the industry.
Common Contractor CV Mistakes You Should Avoid
Getting your CV noticed, be it by people or software, is a hurdle you need to surpass if you want to get a job interview. To maximise your chances of getting that all-important interview, make sure to avoid the following contractor CV mistakes:
Too Many Clichés
If you’re finding too many buzzwords that don’t have a lot of meaning, it may be time to go in with a critical eye and cut them out. Buzzwords and clichés will not help you to stand out; on the contrary, they can make your CV sound generic, as they don’t showcase what you can actually do. For example, don’t just say ‘I can work well in a team and as an individual’ – everyone can do it or are expected to do it, so this is a given. Be specific and avoid generic terms to describe your work experience or skills.
Trying Too Hard to Stand Out
You want potential clients to take notice of your CV. However, it’s vital that you get the right kind of attention; otherwise, your CV will go straight to the bin. Being too outside the box can hinder your chances of being hired, so try to stand out by writing a killer CV instead of using gimmicks. These can include anything, from adopting a funny tone of voice to including irrelevant details in the CV that don’t help to showcase your skills.
Adding Personal Information
Many contractors make the mistake of adding personal information like age, marital status, place of birth and hobbies, which will not help you to get the interview. Focus on your professional experience instead, because people looking to hire only want to know if you have the right skills for the job.
Your CV is Too Long
People tend to disagree on the length of a CV; some say it’s best to keep to just one page while others believe two is the ideal length to be able to showcase everything you can do. Do your research and see what works best for you, since different people will have different tastes; and, if you’re applying for a senior position or have many years of experience, one page is probably not enough to talk about your expertise and skills.
However, the one thing everyone agrees on is that you should never go beyond two pages. CVs that are very long are unlikely to be read by agents or hiring managers, especially if they have hundreds of them to sift through. Be concise.
It can be tempting to add your hourly or daily rates, but this can actually hold you back. Request a figure that your potential client believes is too high and your CV will be ignored; request a figure that is too low, and you may come across as inexperienced. It’s better to negotiation rates after the interview or once you know the company is interested in hiring you.
Giving Too Much Importance to the Education Section
When you have years of experience to talk about in your CV, you shouldn’t put too much weight on the education section. After all, clients are looking for skilled contractors with relevant experience, so make sure your job roles and skills are front and centre. Some contractors and freelancers will have their educational experience on the first page, or they add too many details to the section – prospective clients will not care about this and may not even finish reading their CVs.
Making It About You
When writing your contractor CV, you want to make it about the client, not about you. Of course, it’s important that you sell your skills and expertise. However, this needs to be written in a way that shows clients what you can do for them with your skills. Show your achievements and the benefits for your clients.
Not Being Clear Enough
As a contractor, you’re not joining a business to be part of staff, you’re being recruited because they want you to solve a specific problem or help them with a particular issue. So, you should not only use this to your advantage when creating your CV, but you also need to keep in mind that you’re not applying as if you’re a permanent employee.
Not Using Emphasis
Like we mention above, your CV will likely be skim-read and being too ‘out there’ and creative is not a good way to stand out. Instead, stand out by utilising emphasis such as upper-case letters when applicable and bold font, which can attract attention to the details you really don’t want people to miss.
Leaving Important Skills Out
Trimming down your CV and being concise is important, but there are still some skills that should be included, even if not one hundred percent related to the job description. For example, if you know a foreign language, you may want to consider adding it in, even if at the end of the CV – more and more contractors are working abroad or working for clients in other countries, so competency in several languages can give you the edge above other applicants.
At Gorilla, we have extensive experience providing accounting for contractors from all industries and sectors, whether you work in IT, as a locum doctor or vet, in engineering, and more. Don’t hesitate to talk to us if you wish to learn more about our services and what we can do for you; in the meantime, why not check out your take-home pay with our contractor tax calculator?