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How to adapt your CV for contractor roles

06/02/2019
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Fixed term or contract roles are a common aspect of many industries in 2019, particularly in engineering where your work can take you through a wide variety of individual projects across different companies and locations.

So when it’s time to seek the next job, what do you need to take into consideration when laying out your CV?

You should have separate CVs for temporary or permanent jobs and target each one to the role you're seeking

1. Target your CV to the type of role you’re seeking

Firstly, you should be adapting your CV to match the role you’re applying for anyway. If they provide a job description listing the skills they’re seeking, you should be ensuring that those skills are mentioned on your CV using the same phrasing.

But at the very least you should have two completely different CV layouts - one for permanent roles and one for fixed term roles. For your permanent role you’re presenting yourself not just as someone with the capability to perform the job, but who will fit in with the company. Highlight personal achievements, promotions, times when you have taken charge within a team and opportunities you have taken to develop your skills further.

For a contract role, what’s most important is to get across the key skills you can provide from day one. If you’re working for a fixed-term, it’s less important for the company to know about your willingness to learn. They need to know what your skills are and what similar projects you’ve worked on. 

Be brief and get straight to the point.

Don't leave unanswered questions in your CV - make it clear which roles were contracts

2. Highlight your previous contracts

This is important for both CV formats. When listing your previous work experience, ensure you mention which of them were contract hires. The last thing you want is to appear like you can’t stay at a permanent job. 

Example layout: 
Aug 2018 - Jan 2019
Planning Engineer [Contract] - ABC Industries

This simple addition clears up a lot of unanswered questions on your CV - such as why you’re seeking a new role.

Don't include too much description for each role, keep your CV straightforward and concise

3. Make it concise

If you have a lot of experience with short-term contracts, there may be many more jobs featured on your CV. Try not to let this drag out over too many pages. 

If your CV is over 3 pages, it’s time to shorten it. Instead of going into detail about each role, use bullet points to highlight the most important values you brought to each project. Try to find something different in each role, even if the jobs were fairly similar. 

If it’s still running long, minimise the space you’re dedicating to older jobs. A contract you worked on in the last year is going to be more relevant to a project from the early ‘00s. Condense these to just the job title and company name or, if it’s not directly relevant to the role you’re currently seeking, leave it off completely.

Don't hide the work you've done throughout the industry by trying to promote your own company name - make it clear who else you've worked with in the industry

4. Use the client’s name, rather than your own company

Many contractors operate under their own company name. However listing this as your “employer” on a CV can put off some hiring managers who may be disinclined to hire you as a separate “company”. 

It can also make your CV look unnecessarily repetitive. 

Better to list the client’s name instead - demonstrating the value you’ve added to other companies within the industry - and wait until the interview stage to discuss how you usually operate.

Spend time reviewing your CV before sending - be critical

5. Check before you send

No matter what job you’re seeking or what format your CV is in, never send it straight away.

Write it carefully, thinking about the best way to get your skills and experiences across without using buzzwords or industry jargon. Spellcheck as you go. Then leave it alone for a while. 

Leave it for a few hours, a day or even a week if you can (as long as you’re not missing an application deadline of course). Then review it critically from a fresh perspective. Try to consider what a hiring manager who has never met you would be thinking as they read it. Is it clear what your core skills are? Does your introduction make sense? Is all the information there relevant and informative?

Be critical about it and highlight anything that needs changing. This is your opportunity to stand out, so don’t rush it and send a CV full of errors and unnecessary information.

Register your CV with Fircroft

Upload your CV today and our experienced team will seek out relevant contract and permanent opportunities that match your skills.

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