Job Hunting, Candidate Advice, LinkedIn | 4 min read

How to Make Your CV Stand Out as a Contractor

Written by Adam Woozeer

As a contractor, your CV has always been your most important tool. But, in today’s rapid market, now more than ever, having a stellar CV could mean the difference between landing your dream gig or not.

With businesses looking to ramp up their digital transformation initiatives and out perform competitors, they want to bring in the best, and they want to do it quickly. Gone are the days of hiring managers pouring over multiple CV’s and comparing candidates. Now, when a business sees someone they like, they snap them up.

Whilst this makes it a contractor’s market, it also means that your CV is more important than ever. But the question remains, how do you make yours stand out from the crowd?

There are plenty of articles online detailing what you should include in your CV. Whilst these blogs will discuss the obvious, very few reveal the really important stuff; namely, how you can use your CV to immediately catch a recruiters or hiring managers eye and make them want you.

We’ve taken advice from veterans in the contract market to provide you with our top tips on how to can make your CV stand out as a contractor…

Prove your business value

When providing information on previous roles, it can be tempting to simply copy out the job description to provide an overview of your responsibilities. Doing so, however, doesn’t demonstrate how you brought value to the business in question – it will just show potential future employees that you can handle a set list of tasks.

When discussing your experience, therefore, emphasise what you actually did and what you helped the business to achieve. Instead of just writing, that you were involved in a Salesforce implementation, discuss the tangible business impact of the implementation, and how you directly influenced the outcome of it.

Remember, you’re always better off providing a smaller list of activities with specific information that really shows a potential employer what you did for a business, than simply writing a generic list of responsibilities. 

Talk about yourself... not the business

Don’t waste space discussing who the business is and what they do; many contractors fluff out their CV with this sort of information with the aim of providing an overview or context on why they were brought into a business.

The reality is that most recruiters and managers won’t care what your previous business did; they want to know about the influence you had on the organisation, so stick to the specific details about yourself and your role there if you want your CV to stand out from those that are filled with excessive information. 

If a business liked you, people should know!

If you’ve been in the fortunate position to have had a contract extended, or to have been asked back to a business, make sure you include this information. Many contractors will simply put the length of their time spent at a business, without specifying whether they were kept for longer than intended or brought back in to complete further work.

This information is key to making your CV stand out, because it immediately shows a hiring manager that you were able to bring so much value to your previous business that they didn’t want to let you go.

Be sure to highlight this as a sure-fire way to impress.

Fill the gaps

If you have gaps in your working history, don’t just ignore them – hiring managers certainly won’t. Even if you put a brief note that you took a few months out, it is better to explain employment holes before anyone has the opportunity to ask about them.

Not only will it make your CV read better if you have a complete history, but the last thing you want is to have potential employers asking questions about your capabilities and experience when they first see your profile – something they are likely to do if you have unexplained gaps in your work history.

Shout about your qualifications first

As a point of logic, most people will tell you to include your skills on your CV; it’s a pretty important measure of your capability to do a job and definitely shouldn’t be missed off. What is often less emphasised is the importance of shouting about any qualifications you have gained during your career.

In our experience, most contractors will make a small note of their qualifications near the bottom of the skills section and do nothing further to draw attention to them. In contrast, we recommend placing this information near the top of your CV; after all, you’ve put the extra time and effort in to increase your skillset in a manner that many other contractors might not have and hiring managers should be aware of this as soon as possible.

When it comes to job title, specificity is key

For most contractors it can be tempting to put your job title as ‘consultant’. Whilst it sounds impressive, you could be doing yourself a disservice in doing so, especially if you work in a highly technical or SaaS based market. Being specific with job titles details the nuances of your previous roles, which will make your CV more appealing.

Most people will typically scan a CV for a few seconds, so you need to make sure your previous experience stands out. Seeing a plethora of ‘consultant’ roles will make you less appealing than, say, stints as a Solution Architect, Enterprise Architect and Integration Architect.

Work on the premise that hiring managers won’t take the time to fully read through your experience, so you want to give them as much information as possible during that first glance.

Keep it clean

A pretty self-explanatory one, but something that is not emphasised enough. Refrain from using multiple colours or fancy layouts; hiring managers and recruiters want to be able to quickly glance down your CV to determine your suitability for the position.

Reminder: keep your CV concise (2 pages at minimum, 5 pages at most), clean and easy to read.

 

If you'd like help making your CV stand out from the crowd or are on the hunt for your next dream role, get in touch with our specialist contract recruiters here.