The science behind the perfect contractor’s CV

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Gone are the days where everyone used the same old boring, "See One = See Them All" CV template. Professionals, particularly contractors with enterprising skill sets, are now coming up with new, creative ways to sell themselves, from buying their own billboard to standing in train stations with a sign.

Though it's fine to use a standard template, contractors should avoid copying this "permanent" style, as employers have different priorities when looking for an interim worker.

Since this post went live, we've taken the time to go deeper into the matter. We'll overhaul the original post by taking a look beyond the CV in Microsoft Word and reveal some other ingenious ways to broadcast your capabilities.

To help you make more of your contractor CV, we've also turned to several people in the know about what makes a contractor stand out. They include:

  • Jonathan Fisher, co-founder of Recann, IT recruitment specialist
  • Richard Howard, Resourcing Specialist for Optionis Group
  • April Kerr of Venn Digital, a digital marketing agency

With that in mind, check out our example below including some insights we've found from some truly enterprising professionals, and think about what you have to gain through taking a unique approach. We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section as well.

Ingredients for the perfect contractor CV

Let's face it: you're not a permanent worker anyway. As a contractor, you want the flexibility, productiveness and the strong work-life balance that is all part of a more popular career path.

So, why use a permanent CV format?

Contractors have plenty of options in determining how they want to work, so it makes sense to show you how you can position yourself best to find that work. Here are some of the areas in which a contractor CV can help you do that.

Contact information

There's no need to put your address on your CV – keep your contact information concise and include any online platforms you use professionally, so the employer can see more of your work.


Employers are looking for what specialist skills you possess, so listing them at the top of the page will show the reader what you can do straightaway. Also, using bullet points will prevent them being lost within a block of text.


Only include relevant experience. An employer doesn't care about a summer job you had at 16 and it wastes valuable space. Bullet pointing your experience will also keep it clear and avoid your CV looking like big blocks of text.

Jonathan from Recann regularly reminds candidates that a CV is about the person, not the project team.

“Clients want to know what the person actually did, not what a team of people did or what the company did.”

Richard from Optionis added that the order should go from most recent role backward – and even then, just to an extent.

“You would be surprised how many people start with their first job back in 1980 at the top of the page.”


A bespoke contractor CV can go a long away toward determining your next assignment


Many permanent candidates place their education first. However, for contractors this is less important than skills and experience, so list this after and make sure you keep it short and snappy.

Jonathan says:

“One of the most common mistakes you'll find in a contractor CV is providing information about Education at the very top of the CV, even if it has been over 10-15 years since they were in University.”

If you want to include some of your interests, make sure they either relate to your career or are unique. You could also use this space to put skills that may not directly relate to your industry, but are specialist, and awards you've won.

Richard noted that including your interests is sensible only if they are simple and relevant. In essence, hobbies with no pertinence to the job are a definite no-no. Richard says:

"I had a CV recently where under interests she said she could complete a Rubik's cube in less than 2 minutes."


Try and make your contractor CV creative. Whether it's adding a company logo you may use or a splash of colour, it can stop it looking too text heavy and make it stand out from the pile.

Contractor CV by Sector

IT & Tech

Because Recann has a particular focus on the IT sector, Jonathan speaks regularly with key players in the industry looking for the latest talent. Jonathan says:

"As a contractor, your focus should not just be to list all of experience you have for every job role. It should detail the way that your experience has and can help to deliver a service or a solution to an organisation's project or requirement(s). With this in mind there should be extra attention paid towards tailoring your CV to fit the requirements of the role. There's little point listing all of your skills and experience if it is not going to be relevant to the role, keep it concise and easy to follow."

Creative industry

For digital and creative personnel (as you will see later), the bar is already high. Modern examples tend to reflect the dynamic personalities as well, according to some of the hiring personnel and recruiters who have worked with April at Venn Digital. April says:

“Although personality often gets you a long way within the creative industry, it's important to remain professional.”

With all modes of projecting your credentials – whether they are traditional (CV.doc) or trendy (website or infographic) – don't forget that a direct approach pays the most dividends. April's experience suggests simplification is the best tactic for media, marketing and other creative fields.

“Working in the creative field, contractors sometimes try to overdo it when adapting their CV for a particular role. They often try and showcase their skills through the actual document, making it look cluttered and busy. Instead add styling and personality, but let the actual written experience speak for itself.”

Other ways a contractor CV can stand out

The creative ways in which you can offer your services as a contractor have no limit. And they're not relegated to the old Word document form of the CV.


Consider how the creative industries have attempted to become noticeable. The advent of Prezi has been invaluable to get one's creative flair across.

Websites and Interactive CVs

Graphic designer Robby Leonardi offered a particularly memorable interactive CV showing off his skills in 2013. For fans of the first-generation Super Mario Brothers games, it is a delight:

Contractor Website

Another tool is the personalised website for anyone setting up as a limited company, for which our sister company ClearSky can help. ClearSky's marketing services can help with these services, both for small businesses and limited company contractors.

Other website possibilities exist as well, including LinkedIn and, the latter of which offers a customised look to suit your needs and the image you wish to project.

LinkedIn and your digital profile

There's no getting around it: LinkedIn is a leading player in the modern job application. This professional social media resource is now so trusted that companies allow candidates to apply for roles submitting only their LinkedIn profile.

This in no way pushes aside the CV, but it does require that you be flexible. If you find the positions you want to apply for offering this route, it's sensible to do a spring clean on your entire digital profile: more and more firms are using online tools to bore out who you really are and what you bring to the table for them.

And by all means, make use of LinkedIn.

Jonathan says:

“Being active on LinkedIn is a sure fire way to stand out. Connect with recruiters who are specialists within your job market and post updates on your availability. Gain recommendations from your peers to validate the experience and skills you are trying to sell yourself on. There have been numerous occasions where we've had contractors go to interviews and they have secured a position because we've been able to show that they come highly recommended.”

Your turn

If you're a contractor, we'd like to know what tactics have worked for you to help you land a new assignment. Let us know on Twitter.