Although working as a contractor can offer a lot of benefits, it can be difficult to maintain continuity with your work, as there is often a lot of competition. The first hurdle to get over is to impress the recruiter enough to ensure they feel confident enough to send you to their client. They will only consider submitting your application if they are 100% sure that you are a high quality applicant. These are some ways to ensure you make it through the sift.
Although contracts can vary, a recruiter is looking to ensure that you have some long contracts on your CV. In our experience, most contracts are extended and if your contract roles are only ever one or two months, it can be less desirable than those with some long contracts. Contract extensions serve as a social proof that you were liked and wanted by your previous clients.
Recruiters need to be able to understand what you did and what business benefits you offered. Your work description can make or break your application. Try and put as much detail as possible here, while ensuring it is concise. Familiarise yourself with the STAR format of interviewing. Ideally also use it in your CV. In our experience, most candidates do a decent job when it comes to describing the situation & task. A common problem is in disidentifying what your individual action was (as against what your team did). Also, the quality of how you describe the results is really varied. Some candidates focus on the immediate results, however to be able spell out the wider benefits in ££ terms demonstrates your ability to see the big picture, and is an asset.
Continuing Professional Education
With the initial sift, there is often a high volume of applications to go through and evidence of continuing professional education can set you apart from the crowd. If you are spending time on developing your skills, recruiters will be more impressed and it’ll help you reach the next stage of the application process. This can be very difficult decision commercially – as attending a training often means accepting the loss of income, and the course fee. We consider industry certifications hold great value – and often you do not need to sacrifice your working hours to achieve one.
It is important to use keywords from the job description in your application. Recruiters often just scan through applications for the relevant keywords and in some cases, they just use an Application Tracking System which will automatically pull out specific keywords. Make sure you tailor your CV/application for each role you are applying for. Please don’t go overboard. We once found a CV that appeared to have copied all competencies from a website – he was sifted through but immediately failed when the hiring manager scanned his CV. The key is to try to explain your own experience using an industry-standard terminology.
Just as we read reviews on products/services before we make a purchase, a savvy recruiter will check for LinkedIn recommendations to find out what others are saying about you. If you don’t have these, ask people you have worked with before to recommend you, as this will build up your profile and make you more attractive to employers.