Writing a contractor CV varies from writing one for a permanent job. You ultimately need to quickly sell your skills, services and expertise, very often in a niche market.
Your potential client will want to know that you have the skills and knowledge of their industry, and that you have a track record providing an excellent service and completing projects to deadline.
They will care less about your long-term value and cultural fit than a client hiring for a permanent position, so whilst you should make efforts to uphold a strong personal brand, the main focus should be on proving you are able to offer a specific solution to their short-term problem.
We have a handy contractor CV template available in the resources section of the ContractingWISE website, but outlined below are a few suggestions of how you can write and design a killer CV for your next contract:
1. Choose a style of CV that is clear and readable
There are many different styles of CV and CV templates you could choose from but when it comes to contract work, most clients will be looking for a reliable and professional candidate. Avoid quirky layouts and fancy fonts which can distract from your actual attributes. Use a ‘classic’ CV format with your name at the top, a bulleted list of your key skills and then your experience underneath.
2. List most relevant industry experience first
With each new role you apply for you should tailor the order and focus of your key skills section as this is often the deciding factor for whether or not the client continues reading your CV.
In your experience section, make sure you highlight your most successful previous roles by listing them in order of relevance at the top of your CV.
If you are an experienced independent contractor, this could become quite challenging – so many success stories! It’s important that you bring these to the forefront so that a client can instantly appreciate the value you could bring to the role.
Focus on accomplishments, not skills. Showcase your major achievements instead of just listing what you’re good at.
3. Provide specific and quantifiable examples
As well as outlining to prospective clients your skills and previous work history, your contractor CV must note the depth and breadth of the services you can provide. Try to quantify the work you’ve done, whether it was saving a company a certain amount through developing new software, or increasing their sales by a certain percentage. These facts will prove the accomplishments you have made.
It is also worth detailing any extra services you feel you could offer. As an independent contractor you will have a diverse skillset, so there may be additional areas outside the bounds of the contract that the client may not have considered.
4. Optimise your CV for keywords
Nowadays, many companies (particularly larger ones) use sophisticated software to scan CVs and search for relevant keywords. This means that you should be aware of the keywords needed for the role you’re applying for. Carefully research the skillset needed for the role and match it up to your own experience. Many contractors submit their CVs to recruitment websites used by hiring managers, so if you take this approach it’s really important to make sure that your CV is optimised for any terms that might be searched for by your next potential client.
A good way to do this is to research the company you are pitching to, the products and services they offer and of course the contract description, as this will give you a major indication of what is required.
5. Have you thought about your online presence?
For many independent contractors, this might be the most important part of your CV. If you have one, you should include reference to your website, and make sure it represents a diverse portfolio of your work. The website should be professional in appearance and ideally include testimonials from previous contracts.
Including a link to your LinkedIn profile will also help to enhance your position as a professional contractor. This will demonstrate your know-how and credibility, and will let potential clients find out more about your experience and influence in the industry.
If you use other forms of social media for your work, you may want to include links to these. However, only do this if you believe they would enhance your CV and are professional enough to show to potential clients.
As a contractor, your CV is much more than a record of your previous jobs. Your CV shows how your skills and services match up against the specific requirements of a prospective client and it is a vital marketing tool.
Your CV should showcase previous relevant work and how you added value to former clients’ businesses. Showing your understanding of the industry and your abilities, along with providing links to your online presence, will provide clients with a good picture of how you might perform on a new contract. Your CV is your first step towards winning a new contract. Following the above suggestions and marketing yourself professionally will be crucial to establishing yourself as a credible independent contractor.
At ContractingWISE, we are always here to help. Download our free contractor CV template here.