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CV expert Emma Alkirwi outlines how to set out your CV if you are a freelancer or contractor.
According to Statista, as of June 2021 there are now 4.2 million self-employed people in the UK, with more and more people now working as a consultant on various contracts or as a freelancer.
This has many benefits with people now realising how much they value flexibility and the opportunity to work for themselves. For those seasoned consultants, you probably have already been asked for your CV to demonstrate your track record. Presenting a standard employment based CV can be challenging, but how do you present your CV when you are now no longer applying for employment but offering a service?
The differences are not huge, but the impact and effectiveness of your CV and how it is presented can be the difference between securing or missing out on contract work. Here at The CV Guru, we have had an increasing number of requests over the past 12-18 months for information on how best to present experience, particularly by those transitioning into consulting/freelancing. I thought it would therefore be helpful to set out what works best and what you need to consider if you operate as a consultant/freelancer.
Firstly, if you are offering a service to a company, it is important to showcase this. Clients need to grasp quickly what you can do for them, what differentiates you and what scale you operate at. So, before you start, write down your clients’ pain points: What problems do they have and how exactly will your experience and track record help them?
The main sections you should have will be your Professional Profile, Key Skills and Expertise, Service Offering, Education and Additional Information. The objective is to have a CV that is in essence a sales pitch to prospective clients and would go alongside any proposal you are required to submit.
Professional Profile: This is your elevator pitch and should be no more than six to eight lines long. So keeping your clients’ pain points in mind, succinctly write what problems you can address and your proven track record (tip: don’t write in the first person!).
Key Skills and Expertise: This should be the main areas of your service offering so, for example, a Marketing Consultant could be Digital and Social Media Marketing Strategy, Content Creation, Campaign Management, E-Commerce, Budget Control, and PR and Event Management.
Service Offering: This section differs greatly from standard CVs. So here you should provide a short description of the company and your website address (if you have one). Then you should use sharp and impactful bullet points to highlight what services you offer. This should then be followed with key achievements which should include examples of the financial or operational impact YOU had on your clients. For example, using the marketing example, what was the return on investment of your marketing activity, what increase in revenue did you deliver, what key projects have you led, what new processes have you implemented, do you have any change management experience or have you improved customer journey/experience/satisfaction metrics.
Education: This can be presented as normal with the most important qualification required presented at the top. This becomes very important for technical roles, such as in engineering, production, safety, or IT, i.e. basically where there is a particular technical certification or qualification that matters for the client work/sector.
Remember to include your LinkedIn URL. But you need to ensure your LinkedIn is up to date and has client recommendations. Having recommendations can increase buyer confidence by 60%. Tailor your CV just like you would a proposal.
In summary, treat your CV as a key part of your sales pitch and not a secondary submission as part of a proposal. Proofread your CV and, remember, if you would not hire you based on your CV then think about what would convince you if you were the client.
*Emma Alkirwi is the Managing Director of the CV Guru which is the leading service provider of professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, cover letters in the UK and they also provide specialist consultancy services.