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10 must-have features of a killer CV

Your contractor CV is your first step to securing a contract. It is the key marketing document which determines whether or not you are shortlisted for an interview. It doesn’t matter how qualified or experienced you are, if you’re not able to sell yourself through your CV, the client won’t be interested.

With that in mind, here are ten must-have features to include in your CV to ensure that you get the opportunity to prove face-to-face in interview that you’re the best person for the job.

1. Tell the client what they want to hear in 20 seconds

Initially, an agency or client will typically devote around twenty seconds to skim-reading your CV before either throwing it away or shortlisting you for an interview.

You need to ensure that, within these twenty seconds, you clearly convey why you are the best candidate for the role. Find out how below.

2. Tailor your profile

Your profile acts as a more concise summary of the rest of your CV, so it needs to be adapted and focused with the clients’ requirements in mind.

Sending out a generic CV without demonstrating consideration for the role itself will almost certainly be the beginning and end of your application.

3. Highlight your relevant skills and experience

Pick out your skills, experience and achievements that are relevant to the position and prioritise them by positioning them just below your profile.

Placing focus on your suitability for the role not only demonstrates that you possess the necessary expertise, but that you also understand the clients’ requirements.

4. Make use of upper case letters and bold font

Your CV is initially going to be skim-read, so you need to ensure that the right things stand out to the reader.

Consider which key words best match the advertisement and highlight them in upper case letters or bold font to give them visual priority and ensure they attract attention.

5. Demonstrate how you can be of value to the client

Remember to emphasise not only your qualities, but also how a potential clients’ operation could benefit from these qualities.

Clients will always want to see that the candidate has successfully applied their highlighted skills in previous contracts, and that they have provided tangible business value as a result.

6. Trim the fat

Contractors are often guilty of overcomplicating their CVs by including lists of additional skills that aren’t particularly relevant to the application.

Keep the information clear and concise by cutting out details of any work experience or achievements that don’t directly apply to the role. You should always try to keep your CV down to two pages, unless you have a particularly large amount of relevant expertise.

7. Use bullet points and ditch the use of ‘I’

Whether you’re detailing your expertise, achievements or work history, the client won’t want to search through a fancily worded paragraph to determine your suitability for the role.

Bullet points improve readability and get straight to the point, whilst removing the pronoun ‘I’ reduces repetitiveness.

8. Be flexible with your job title

One of the benefits of being a contractor is you are your own boss, which means you can decide upon your own job title, providing it’s accurate.

As well as determining your current job title, you can rename positions you’ve previously held to adapt to the role that you are applying for. Your job titles should also convey contracting career progression.

9. List your limited company as your employer

Rather than listing previous contracts as separate employment, you should re-write your CV, displaying your limited company as your employer and your previous contracts as external consultancy assignments.

This is a legitimate technique which will portray you as a more accomplished candidate. Plus it’s factually accurate – you are employed by your own company, and never by your client.

10. Make sure it passes the ‘so what!?’ test

Detail, measurable benefits and an end result are the three things a client wants to see.

When detailing your work achievements, you need to make sure that you deliver all three of these, otherwise the client will be sat there thinking ‘so what!?’

Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2017

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