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Resume Writing Tips For Contractors

Date: 28 February 2018

When it comes to securing a job, the resume is used across almost all industries and levels. A contractor resume has a different function than a traditional resume. Although in essence it is the same – in that it displays the work history of a contractor – it has a slightly different purpose.

Contractors provide solutions

Before hiring an employee for a permanent position, there are various factors to consider, including skillset, long-term value to the business, and culture fit. A contractor is a different story altogether as this is often a short or fixed-term position created to add temporary skills or fill a resource gap.

As a contractor, you are there to provide a solution to a problem, project requirements are often very specific. A contractor resume is about presenting your experience and showing how this positions you as the best person to fill this gap. The recruitment timeline for contractor roles is often short, so you need to get across your experience and instill confidence immediately.

Results are Key

A contractor is a short-term partner, the company is buying into your skills and industry experience. Although contractors often cost more in the short term, it is vital that you hit the ground running on a project and immediately deliver results. Problem solving skills, initiative, and the ability to achieve – and exceed – KPIs, are all essential qualities for a contractor.1

We have extensive experience helping contractors present their skills to potential employers. Here are our top tips for contractors looking to build a strong resume:

  1. Summarize

    What’s your core ‘value proposition’? Make it clear at the top of your resume along with your key strengths. Research into quantitative eye tracking suggests recruiters spend just six seconds looking at your resume, so make sure every second counts.2

  2. Show, don’t tell

    When it comes to contractor resumes, you should ‘show, don’t tell’. This means showing the employer what makes you the most qualified for the role rather than telling them. When you paint your experience you should aim to show what you can do using examples, as well as illustrating examples with results from previous projects. Avoid flowery language and soft skills such as ‘strong communication skills’ or ‘team player’.

  3. Adapt

    It’s vital that you adapt your resume for each role. Show previous experience of working on similar projects and give examples of times you have utilized key skills. Contractor roles are often filled swiftly, so the quicker you send your details, the better.

    Rather than rewriting your resume for each project, put together a selection of different case studies and resume versions in advance, each with a different focus so you can tailor the documents. While personalizing your cover letter and resume for each contract is important, you can save yourself hours of work by preparing several templates as part of your job hunting groundwork.3

  4. Aim for Impact

    An effective one-page resume is better than an ineffective two-page resume, always consider your audience and what they hope to learn from your resume. Remember that your resume has one job: to get you to the interview. Once you get there, then you can talk through your work and projects in more detail. However, the resume is the deciding factor. Aim for impact, not length.

  5. Be assertive

    It’s not always what you communicate that matters, but how you communicate it. Thread facts and results through examples and use active language that quantifies how you performed. For example, a statement such as ‘introduced an effective infrastructure that lead to a 15% increase in sales’ comes across better than ‘hit sales targets’. Your resume should be a persuasive argument for why you are best for the job. Language is a tool for you to express this effectively, so choose your words carefully to ensure you are assertive.

  6. Go the extra mile

    Alongside putting together a resume, it can be helpful to assemble a set of case studies showing your top projects. This helps refocus the purpose of your resume, which is to convey the different areas of your experience. A case study can then complement this experience by showing the topline results achieved for a client or on a project. We’d recommend using the STAR model to write these – this is short for Situation, Task, Actions, and Result.4 When you’re writing these, try and put yourself in an employer’s shoes.

  7. Prioritize

When you are starting out, the education section of your resume is often the most important part. As a graduate, a degree from a prestigious university can help you get a foot in the door. However, after several years of experience in the field, it is unlikely this is something you will be asked about in detail, so it should default from the start to the end of your resume. Although a prestigious university can help support an already positive impression, it’s having the experience that counts.5

Top tip: Your resume is a sales tool

This is not the time to be humble. Equally, this is no time to take credit for projects you didn’t work on. Be factual, and shout loud and clear about your best achievements. In the digital age, we are all brands, so make sure that you give yourself the best sales pitch possible. Think of your resume as a piece of marketing collateral to sell yourself to potential ‘customers’ (that is: employers). Just describing the duties you performed doesn’t effectively get across how you carried out the role, so you need to focus on the results you achieved and how this better positions you for the contract.

We are experts when it comes to filling contractor roles and helping contractors secure work. If you’re a contractor looking for a new opportunity or a business hoping to secure a contractor for a project get in touch today.

Sources

1 http://www.futurelinkgroup.co.uk/payroll/news/ september-2014/writing-a-contractor-cv#sthash.fX5wUJN5. dpuf

2 http://fundamentum.com/how-long-employers-spend- looking-at-your-resume-and-what-to-do-about-it/

3 http://www.itcontracting.com/top-10-expert-cv-writing- tips-contractors/

4 https://www.crunch.co.uk/blog/contractor- advice/2015/06/03/ultimate-contractor-cv-template- example/

5 https://www.crunch.co.uk/blog/contractor- advice/2015/06/03/ultimate-contractor-cv-template- example/