case study – IT Contractor

Malcolm works as a contractor in the IT sector at senior management level. His old CV wasn’t getting any results, and as a contractor without any contracts he was effectively losing several hundred pounds a day while waiting for a new contract. In need of results, and quickly, he came to us for help.

Initially, he asked us to create something along the same lines as his original CV. In fact, his initial idea was for us to just improve the wording and make it more presentable.

We could have done that, and it would have been straightforward for us to just follow these simple instructions. However, we want the applications of our client to succeed, and we wouldn’t have been doing Malcolm any favours if we had just improved the wording and made his CVs more presentable. Yes, the CV would have looked more professional and it would have flowed better on reading – but it still would have had the same old (weak) sales messages, and it wouldn’t have helped him to land a senior managerial job in what is a very competitive sector. As such, my response was to say yes, we can certainly do that if it is what he wanted, but I also gave him the option of an alternative solution, and elaborated on details of the logic and rationale behind the recommendation.

That way Malcolm had food for thought to make an informed decision.

One of the things we do here at that we don’t really advertise on the main part of our website is to give advice and recommendations not just about the CV itself, but about job applications specific to the client’s circumstances and target. In this case, Malcolm’s original CV was very long, overcomplicated and typical of many IT sector CVs in that it was very technical and had lost its focus. Amongst other things his original CV had three main messages that wove in and out of his CV somewhat haphazardly; firstly, that he had a lot of IT programming expertise across numerous applications including legacy systems, secondly that he had some project management experience, and thirdly that he had several years business analysis experience, latterly as a contractor. In addition to this, there was the added complication of over 10 years worth of non-IT sector work experience on his CV that took up a sizeable portion of his curriculum vitae, without adding any value.

In Malcolm’s case I queried his target and was told that he was no longer interested in programming or project management, but was now only targeting senior managerial business analyst posts on a contract basis. In which case, I recommended restructuring his CV completely; honing in and optimising his central sales message around his senior level business analyst expertise. Malcolm was a bit hesitant about the prospect of toning down (or even losing) some of his previous experience from his CV, but said that his previous CV wasn’t getting results, and it needed a change so he was happy to trust my judgment and go with my recommendation.

I therefore worked on this premise, refining his CV down to a better size, improving the structure, and revamping the presentation as well as making the sales message and the CV as a whole clearer and more focused as well redirecting the pitch to bring it more in line with senior management roles. In addition to this I worked with Malcolm on adding and improving additional business analyst specific achievements to strengthen and substantiate the CV further still.

It took a bit of time, but it was worth the wait and the effort.

The end result was a more concise document that was very different to the original both in terms of looks and message.

Sometimes when we create CVs that are very different to the original certain clients are somewhat alarmed – because it’s so different to the original, and so removed from what they are used to. It’s actually quite natural for clients to want to cling on to their original, or something approaching their original – even though it wasn’t working for them in the first place.

If anything, it can be harder to let go of preconceptions, and embrace change.
Moreover, this is perfectly natural and understandable. At the same time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that change isn’t always for the better, because in our experience it often is.

In this case, Malcolm did have some reservations, but went ahead and applied for his next job using his new CV nevertheless.

He was delighted when it achieved immediate results. He said this:

“I have already got an interview. They said that my CV stood out from all the other candidates!”

Malcolm subsequently went on to get the job, and has since come back to us for several updates as he moves on from contract to contract.

Paul’s book


Paul’s groundbreaking curriculum vitae book, ‘The One Page CV’ published by Pearson Education.

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