According to Forbes, the average number of people who apply for a job is 118! Incredible isn’t it? While this figure may not be a true representation of every sector or specialism, it does show that competition for roles can be extremely high.
The first hurdle to get over when applying for a contract role is getting your CV seen by the hiring manager or recruiter. The Undercover Recruiter states that recruiters look at a CV for only between 5-7 seconds, so making sure your CV showcases your skills and experience (so that it catches the recruiters attention) is imperative for getting consistent work as a contractor.
There is so much CV advice and tips on the web but a lot of this is not relevant for contractors, so we’ve spent time searching different sources and talking to experts to bring you the CV advice you really need:
Word or PDF which is best?
ATS or applicant tracking systems which are used by most recruiters and hiring teams have come have become very sophisticated. They can match contractors with roles based on relevant skills or keywords used are job descriptions and on CVs. However, there are some applicant tracking systems which struggle to read data if it’s presented in a pdf or image format.
So, while it may be tempting to lay out your CV using an attractive PDF template or even present it as series of images or in a video, you could end up losing roles as the tracking system can’t read your details. Instead, use a word document and choose a layout which highlights your skills and experience.
Length is not everything
The standard rule is for a CV to be 2 pages in length. As a contractor, potentially working on several projects each year, fitting everything into 2 pages can be difficult. While you don’t want your CV to be too long you don’t want to miss off any important details, so try to stick to 3-4 pages.
Start with a strong personal statement
The hiring manager or recruiter doesn’t have the time to search your CV for important details, so you need to put these where they can be easily found – in an opening statement. The opening statement is used to ‘sell yourself’ so don’t be shy when talking about your strengths. Be sure to relate your strengths to the role and also detail how these will benefit the client.
Experience outshines education
While specific qualifications may be needed for the role, a hiring manager or recruiter is likely to be more interested in your experience in a similar role. So, underneath your personal statement on the first page list your work experience, ideally in chronological order. Or, if you have been contracting for several years and have a long list of projects you’ve worked on a case study style CV may be more appropriate.
A case study CV focuses on a client’s problem and details what processes you used to solve this problem and the results you achieved.
Match your CV to the role
Karen Frith of Contractors Anonymous (a company which offers a service which helps contractors perfect their ‘elevator pitch’) states that contractors “need to restructure and refocus their CV for every role.” Adding, that contractors should “have multiple templates ready for use or tailoring at short notice.” Finally, Karen iterates that contractors “should never post generic CV’s to LinkedIn or job boards.”
Whether you are new to contracting, stepping back into it after a period away or are looking to step up your contracting career, our team has the knowledge and expertise to support you. Click here to find out about our accountancy packages or speak to one of our Directors on 01962 867550.