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A Targeted CV Gets Results

30 September 2016


A steady increase in the number of self-employed contractors since the onset of the financial crisis has led to greater competition for contracts. There's no denying that. And since the Brexit vote in June, competition for contracts has heated up even more. You need to be prepared to compete by creating a targeted CV that gets results.


Your CV is the most important tool you have for landing an interview. Bear in mind that you have less than half-a-minute to make an impression on hiring managers that might be looking over dozens, or even hundreds, of CVs for a single contract position. The point of targeting your CV is to take full advantage of the limited amount of time you might hold the attention of a hiring manager.


Three Reasons Your CV Should Be Targeted


The old days of generalising your CV in order to include the totality of your life experiences are long gone. Today's hiring managers are looking for short and sweet. They are looking for CVs that give them specific kinds of information as quickly as possible so they can weed out contractors who don't fit the bill. They don't have time to grant interviews to applicants who cannot possibly meet job expectations.


In light of that, there are three reasons your CV should be targeted:


  1. Your Time Is Limited – As previously mentioned, you have less than half a minute to make a good impression. If most of your CV consists of information irrelevant to the position you are applying for, you will be wasting valuable time. You should be concentrating on relevant work experience and skills employers are looking for.


  1. You Can Add Value – Assuming you have the relevant work experience and skills, you have the ability to add value to the company you are applying with. Hiring managers need to know that. They need to know exactly what you bring to the table that could make their companies better for having hired you. Your CV is an opportunity to explain the value you offer.


  1. You Can Get Down to Business – Lastly, a company looking to hire a contractor is not looking to develop a long-term relationship. They want someone who can get down to business at the very first hour. A targeted CV demonstrates you have the ability to do that. A generalised, long-winded CV suggests to hiring managers that you are disorganised and unable to focus.


How to Target Your CV


Now that you know why your CV should be targeted, the next question is whether you know how to do it. It is not all that hard if you understand what employers are looking for.


The best way to learn to recognise what employers are looking for is to read a couple of job postings and pay attention to the details. As you go, write down notes that help you quantify exactly what the employer is saying about the required skills, relevant experience, and job duties.


Below is part of a sample listing for a Java Developer courtesy of


Java Developer Job Responsibilities:

Creates user information solutions by developing, implementing, and maintaining Java based components and interfaces.


Java Developer Job Duties:

  • Defines site objectives by analysing user requirements; envisioning system features and functionality.
  • Designs and develops user interfaces to internet/intranet applications by setting expectations and features priorities throughout development life cycle; determining design methodologies and tool sets; completing programming using languages and software products; designing and conducting tests.
  • Recommends system solutions by comparing advantages and disadvantages of custom development and purchase alternatives.
  • Integrates applications by designing database architecture and server scripting; studying and establishing connectivity with network systems, search engines, and information servers.
  • Creates multimedia applications by using authoring tools.
  • Completes applications development by coordinating requirements, schedules, and activities; contributing to team meetings; troubleshooting development and production problems across multiple environments and operating platforms.


Java Developer Skills and Qualifications:

Java, Java Applets, web Programming Skills, Teamwork, Verbal Communication, web User Interface Design, Software Requirements, Software Development Process, Object-Oriented Design (OOD), Multimedia Content Development, Software Debugging


There is a temptation here to focus too much on job duties and not enough on skills and qualifications. Where the job duties are concerned, focus on the first few words of each sentence. For example: 'defines site objectives', 'designs and develops user interfaces', and 'creates multimedia applications'. These phrases indicate what the job entails. They are your starting point.


The next step is looking at the skills and qualifications you have, comparing them to what the job listing states, and then providing information that will quickly let the recruiter know that you have the skills and qualifications to fulfil the job duties.


You are, in essence, answering every job duty point with a relevant skill or qualification that makes you the right contractor to fulfil that duty. Don't worry about any information that is not relevant to the details of the job posting. This means you will have to create targeted CVs for every job you apply for, but that's the cost of succeeding.


Competition among contractors is only expected to get more intense the closer we move to actually leaving the EU. Get in the habit now of generating targeted CVs every time you are pursuing a new contract so that you're prepared when the time comes. Targeted CVs get results, and that's a fact.

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