‘Golden Nugget’ CV advice for Contractors

New year, New contract: CV advice for Contractors

Your CV is seen as your shop window to the working world. It should be eye catching, interesting and informative. How your CV looks can affect your chances of being shortlisted for the role or not.

So how do you know if your ‘CV cuts the mustard’ as they say? In truth there is no way of telling. What one recruiter or hiring manager finds appealing another will not.
Whoever you talk to: your friends, family members or colleagues, they will all give you different pieces of advice on how you should format your CV, what should it contain and how long should it be.

As a contractor you will have more information to add to your work experience section than say a permanent employee for example. It can be difficult to lay your CV out in a format that details all your experience and skills without boring the reader.

We asked 3 experts to give us their ‘golden nuggets’ of CV advice. This is what they told us:

Julia Payn, Only Contract Jobs and The Contractor Support Network

Julia is the owner of the specialist job board, Only Contract Jobs and The Contractor Support Network.

Julia advises to consider getting your CV written a professional company so that it gets through the CV search tools used by many recruiters. Julia went on to explain “It is a shame when a contractor has the exact skills the end client wants, but the recruiter never picks up his or her CV as it is not using the correct keywords.”

There are lots of companies out there on the market providing this service, some good and some not so good. The prices they charge vary widely as well so picking the right one is important. Julia recommends The CV Store whom have lots of experience in writing CV’s for contractors.

Gary Chaplin, Executive HeadHunter

Gary has over 20 years in the recruitment industry, with the last 14 years spent in Executive Search.

“Keeping it simple and straight to the point”, is the way forward according to Gary. Detail is important but don’t be tempted to include every award and achievement you have received. Nobody cares that you got your 100 metre swimming badge at age 8. Unless this is relevant to the job!

Gary adds it is important to include your whole career, making the focus points: what you did, where you did and when you did it. In his blog post “CV Tips: 20 Things to do…20 Things to avoid”, he advises to ignore the 2 page CV rule and instead focus on making it relevant to the role you are applying for.

His tips are to make the main focus of your CV the details are relevant to the role you are applying for, reduce the content of irrelevant experience but never leave it off.

Tony Restell, Social-Hire.com and Top-Consultant.com

Tony has extensive experience in the recruitment industry having worked for Jobsite for nearly 7 years, in 2000 he set up Top-Consultant.com and in 2012 he founded Social-Hire.com.

In an article on www.everywoman.com, Tony talks about mixing up the ‘wow’ words that you use in your CV. He is quoted as saying: “People will use a perfectly good word, like develop, but then use it over and over again. Mix up your verbs. Try enriching, fortifying, forging, transforming and galvanising. These words are really powerful.”


Typically a recruiter or hiring manager only looks at your CV for around 20 seconds (yes, 20 seconds!) before they decide if you are suitable for the post or not.

Firstly, you need to structure your CV with the correct keywords so that it makes it through the initial search process and gets into the recruiters hands. Secondly, the recruiter must be able to scan the CV and pick out the essential bits of information easily and quickly.

There is no correct format for a CV but what has become clear is that one format does not fit all. Tailor your CV to each role, the changes you make don’t have to be major: re-adjusting your keywords or adding more information to certain skill base for example.

If you are starting a new contract and are thinking about changing accountants speak to us today on 0208 952 2234 to find out how Cogent Accountants can help you.