Tips for Contractor CVs

I spend quite a bit of time recruiting for clients, helping place contractors and full time placements for them. As such, I sift through rather a lot of CVs. CVs are notoriously hard to get right, you’ve got to get a potentially complex personality and skill set across in a few sides of A4.

When constructing your CV – remember your target audience. The person on the other end of the desk is looking for a fit in to a team. In our industry, he’s looking for a skills fit, a range of experiences, and possibly curious about what you do out of hours to flesh your character. Your CV will be given five minutes. If you don’t make your mark in that time, that’s it. Here’s a few tropes to avoid to help with that.

Personal Statement Brown Nosing

Nothing says “hire me” like the sound of anal slurping. Holy Christ, how many times do I have to hear “I would love to work at your company because…” or words to that effect. You want a job with a community, which pays money and is enjoyable. As does everyone else. Just try to avoid making it sound like your trying to give me colonic irrigation with your tongue at the same time.

Personal Skills

I am a hard-working, trustworthy, flexible person who is a good team-player… Really? You mean these aren’t qualities I would normally expect to find in a regular employee? Do you think I make a habit of recruiting scum of the earth who steal from old ladies and are the mentally unstable loner types, who require a darkened room at all types to operate in? The fact that you’ve had to state these on your CV immediately raises flags in my mind that maybe, just maybe you had to list these incase they weren’t obvious when we met face-to-face. Think about that.

Repetition

At Job A I did project X! Project X consisted of A1, A2, A3. At Job B I did project X! Project X consisted of A1, A2, B1! At Job C I did project X! Project X consisted of A1, A2, B2! At Job D I did project Y! Project Y was fun! Some skills are implied. Sharepoint is the one that immediately comes to mind. If you’re a sharepoint developer, there are some obvious associated skills which come with this. I can guess you probably worked with SQL Server at all your sharepoint jobs. Repeating yourself over and over only shows to me that you’ve got a very narrow field of experience. This immediately worries me – what happens when you’re working outside of your comfort zone? Tell me something I don’t know.

Stuffing

If you’re a fresh graduate, or new to this industry, you’re going to have a short CV. If you’ve been in this game for a few years, your CV will be somewhat bulkier. Don’t try to make your CV look impressive by adding crap to it. Crap includes every academic result you’ve ever had, and a one page long “personal statement”. Keep it tidy, keep it short. There is nothing wrong with a one page CV if that’s all you’ve got. People will respect you more for having the balls (or other bits of anatomy) to do it.

Hobbies and Interests

This one also comes under brown-nosing. This is about showing you’re a rounded personality, not that you live your life in your job. There is nothing wrong, nothing wrong at all in having geek related hobbies. You code games in Python for fun? Fucking A. But if you tell me you code sharepoint servers for kicks, I’m going to have some serious problems believing you. Same goes for reading “technical journals”. Very few people I have met actually do so. Some do, but it sits out a mile if you’re lying. Do you enjoy cooking, or a game of footy on a Sunday? – these are fine. As are extreme ironing, hiring escorts, and reading. Reading is a great chill-out hobby, more people should do it.

Technical Skills of the Gods

Don’t claim you have rockstar/ninja/word-of-the-month skills if you don’t. This seems obvious, but so many people still do it, it’s painful. Claim you have two decades of .NET experience, and I’ll raise an eyebrow. Claim you wrote NHibernate and I’ll ask you questions. As will other interviewers.

I now run a small technical test for all interviewees. It’s not hard, but represents a typical workload. I expect people to manage it, or at the very least have a good stab at it. If you can’t do this, why did you tell me you could?

Happy gig-hunting folks.