Successful Contractor CV | How it should look | UK Contractors

Successful Contractor CV
Successful Contractor CV - what should be in it

Successful Contractor CV


A reader sent Successful Contractor CV, How it Should Look.

First Read

On a successful CV I have learnt that the relevant details must be made available quickly to a reader.

The managers must get a warm and fuzzy feeling from a first read. And then there must be sufficient meat to back up that feeling.

So, something of a schizophrenic CV is necessary.

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CV Layout

My CV consists (amongst other things) of a front page with a sentence or two echoing the job requirement (this is for lazy agencies/managers) and a list of my qualifications and areas of business and technical expertise.

Subsequently, each contract/project describes the company/department and what was being produced via a brief text and a set of bullet points.

For example: “ACME Inc. produces toothbrushes for hippopotami.” followed by a bulleted list of my role(s): “Designing the handles; Documenting the cleaning process.”

I might bold the word ‘Designing’ for the agency drones. This must not be overdone, however.

Most Recent Contract

On a successful CV, the most recent job/contract is described in more detail than other jobs/projects. Consequently, I might have two or three paragraphs if it was an unusual or complex project.

Describing a complex or unusual project and what your roles were and a brief explanation of the solution can be of great interest to a Development Manager (but not to the agency).

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All text must be terse but readable.

For the Agency

At the end of each contract, I put a bald list (perhaps a couple of lines) of technical systems used with versions when relevant. For example: Apache, Java1.4/1.5, UMLv2.0 etc. Again, this is mostly for the agency drones but also for people like me who want to know if you’ve got EJB2.0 or whatever.

An important point is that I also want to be able to see that you actually used EJBs and how you used them to solve project problems.

Successful Contractor CV – Technical List

I tie up the description of the project with the technical list. It’s no good claiming you wrote embedded C++ code and the list shows only VB.

It’s no good claiming you used EJBs and the project just doesn’t seem to warrant it (eg: you just wrote the module that reads CSV files; this doesn’t mean you know EJB). Your CV must be consistent.

I find that agencies usually require absolutely exact matches when you are a candidate. When you are the employer, however, the agency will send you just about anything with a J in it (EJB, AspectJ…) for Java based vacancies, even for your J2ME games encryption system.

Explaining to Agencies

I often had to speak to agencies three, four, five times to explain requirements.

On the other hand, a good agency will actually pester you for a decent set of requirements and a lousy manager won’t give it to them.

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To get through this, it’s useful to make the headings and boldings reflect the job for which you are applying and let the text detail your prowess.

Successful CV – Your Sales Document

Remember, above all when creating a successful CV, your CV is a ‘sales’ document. You are selling yourself. But it must be utterly truthful and consistent, even in the smallest of details.

  1. Don’t leave gaps.
  2. Don’t claim other people’s work as your own.
  3. Don’t have great long lists of applications on your CV: “Excel, Word, KDE, Norton…” just because they were on the machines you used.
  4. Put down only the heavyweight stuff that is directly relevant to the project/job you’ve described.
  5. Check there are no spelling mistakes (don’t rely entirely on Word to do this).
  6. Check your CV does not ramble, it is a sales pitch for a technical product. Think presentation.

BTW, before you go for an interview, re-read your own CV. Some interviewers will work their way through the whole list.

Have some backup anecdotes to prove you were there and did the work you say you did.

If you follow this advice you will have a successful contractor CV which will get you lots of interviews.



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