Contractor CVs - problems and solutions
There are specific challenges to writing a CV for the freelance / contract market. The traditional ‘permanent’ style of CV is fundamentally flawed and there isn’t a whole heap of well researched and authoritative guidance available on the subject. Matt Craven of IPSE Affiliate CV and Interview Advisor is a well known thought-leader on contractor CVs and shares his thoughts on the key problems (and solutions) below.
Six Page Woes:
Managing the length of a contract CV without missing out key information. If you are new to the contract market this may not be such a problem but after half a dozen assignments, you can’t just keep adding a new contract at the top of your career history without the CV soon becoming six pages long. The solution is to use a more portfolio-based approach and to present each piece of work as a short case study. The career history of your CV then becomes an assignment portfolio and is typically much more effective for the contract market.
Last Job Hell:
The most recent job sits at the top, however this is not the most relevant piece of work for the role that you are applying for. This is what I call ‘last job syndrome’ and can be very restrictive. Recruiters / employers tend to scan CVs for relevant information; so if your last contract was a Project Manager role and they are looking for a Business Analyst, you might be struggling. The solution is to use the case study portfolio approach which allows you to re-order your case studies depending on the position that you are applying for.
Why Oh Why:
The context of the role that you performed is missing. When you write a job description as a list of bullet points, the context of the project / piece of work is often missing i.e. why you did what you did makes no sense. If you can include some information that describes the situation that the company found itself in before hiring you; the role that you performed makes more sense to the reader of your CV. The solution is to write each piece of work as a case study using the STAR framework (Situation, Task, Actions and Result). This framework walks the reader of your CV through your assignment in a logical order, building context, describing the key actions (duties), and presenting a result that proves you succeeded.
But I Love the 80s:
There are of course other challenges that Contractors face when writing CVs and research shows that those who hire Contractors feel that CVs often lack evidence of success and fail to capture ‘why’ they should hire that individual. There are still far too many people who apply out-of-date concepts, often doing no more than presenting a list of jobs / contracts with half a dozen bullet points underneath each entry to describe their duties and responsibilities. This may have worked in 1985 but moving to a more modern and evidence-based approach using the case study portfolio framework will significantly enhance your ability to win work.CVs and Sales