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Top 10: CV Tips for Contractors

Last updated on Monday, January 26, 2015

Written by Churchill Knight

The Christmas period is over and we’ve all been given a fresh start in the form of a new year. Is it time to refresh your CV, and potentially make a big career change in 2016? Here are our Top 10 Tips to help update and sharpen up your CV.

1. Presentation

Much like first impressions with people, this will also apply to the first time a potential employer takes a look at your CV. Therefore, presentation is key. A poorly laid out CV could result in the employer disregarding your application without even reading past the first line.

  • Use standard fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial and Verdana
  • Do not exceed font size 12 (except for headings)
  • Do not use unnecessary colouring or highlighting


2. Spelling and grammar errors

This may seem too obvious to mention, however it can be easily forgotten when updating or writing a CV. Ensure you always use a spell checker, and address any underlined grammar issues on Word, prior to saving and sending your CV out. This will avoid others quickly picking up on such minor errors.

3. Length

As a general rule of thumb do not allow your CV to exceed two A4 pages. Employers have dozens (sometimes hundreds) of potential candidates’ CVs to look through, and are sure to filter out the ones that take them too long to read. An employer is most likely to engage with the first page of your CV, therefore ensure the most relevant and key information can be found there.

4. Meaningless content

Following on from the above point, cutting meaningless content from your CV will help you to keep to the two page rule. Look at the position you are applying for, and evaluate which content on your CV is relevant to it. Avoid general statements such as "I am a hardworking individual...” and ensure you include key words from the job description within your first opening paragraph, in order to grab the employer’s attention.

5. Updated information

It is a common mistake when leaving one job/contract and seeking another, for people to only add their most recent position to the employment history section, forgetting the rest of the CV. Review your CV in its entirety and ensure all sections are updated.

6. Honesty is the best policy

In this day and age, information is readily available for potential employers to check, especially as social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook now provide the option to add your employment history to your personal profile. Be sure that job titles and dates of employment match up on all angles. Lying on your CV can only open a can of worms, and lead to problems later on down the road. After all, you never know when an ex-colleague could land within the same company as you again.

7. Achievements not responsibilities

Many individuals continue to make the mistake of listing day to day duties, and responsibilities of previous jobs, within the employment history section. What does this really tell your potential employer? All this is doing is showing you can rewrite previous job descriptions. Each position or contract listed within your employment section should detail key achievements and skills gained from the role, along with any projects completed worth mentioning.

8. Sections to skip

Certain pieces of information are better left off your CV, as they add no real value being there. Keep personal details appropriate; there is no requirement to detail your height and weight. Similarly, here in the UK we generally do not include photographs (unless you are applying for a modelling or acting contract) Finally, do not include salary requirements within the body of your CV. This is a sure-fire way to close doors, as you will either be requesting too much for the role, or be perceived to be too inexperienced by requesting too little.

9. Make it personal

Your CV is your 30 second opportunity to grasp your future (hopefully) employer’s or client's attention, and secure the first interview with them. Therefore, make it unique and convey a sense of individual personality. Highlight your own personal qualities and what you can bring to the role you are applying for.

Hobbies and interests should not get confused with making your CV personal, or adding personality. Your love of golf or gardening are probably best kept off your CV, as there should be much more relevant content to add instead.

10. Have more than one CV

The content on your CV will remain around the same. However, the way in which your CV is laid out or worded, should be reviewed and adapted each time you are applying for a different position. Tailor your CV so that it reinforces similarities to the job description of the new role, and if you had experience with certain required skills, be sure to include them on the first page.

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