If I am applying to contract work (mainly UK, Ireland, but would also want to know how things look like in North America), do I need a complete CV like an employee?

Updating my CV is bothersome sometimes (many small projects going on) and clients seem to have different expectations about what is a good CV (therefore it seems that my CV will always be a disadvantage at one end or the other).

I wonder whether a short description of my career would be the most common and most appropriate (in terms of getting clients) in this case. (It would be like went to such and such institution, worked at 3 countries and feel comfortable in 2 languages, ... stuff like that.

  • 2
    Hey Juan, and welcome to The Workplace! I think people may be having a tough time answering your question because we don't know what the employers are asking for. What you need to submit depends on what the company asks for, and what will be most effective in getting the job. Even if we tell you that you don't usually need a full CV, that won't help if a company does ask for one (and vice versa). If you could edit your question to focus on something a bit more objective, like, "How do I list many small projects as a contractor when applying for contract work?" it may get better answers. – jmac Dec 11 '13 at 8:25

As a hiring manager of contractors in the UK, I'd certainly expect a CV showing how your experience is relevant to me and my business.

The rules are the same as with permanent staff, the CV should really be tailored to be relevant to the role you are applying to, if you are getting mixed responses it sounds like you are firing in the same CV to everyone, you need to spend the time for each application, just as you would with covering letter, it's part of your sales pitch so you need to spend the time on it.

The way I look at it is the cover letter is how you meet the requirements of my role, the CV then provides the evidence to back up your claims.

  • This depends greatly on the size of the company and the extent of the contract. While I would recommend having a CV ready to go if asked, I think that assuming the hiring process would be like hiring a permanent employee is a stretch depending on the actual details of the contract work, and the company issuing the contract. – jmac Dec 11 '13 at 8:27
  • Well the OP asked across countries and in my 20 years of experience of IT companies in the UK (from startups to blue chip), the norm is that contractors are found via agencies (often they are the umbrella company for the contractor for tax purposes), they (if noone else), will expect a CV. As they say YMMV for other industries – The Wandering Dev Manager Dec 11 '13 at 9:19

If you self employed, don't think resume, think portfolio. They're very similar, but a resume is a detail of work you have done under the supervision of others, whereas a portfolio is a detail of projects you have seen through and managed as an independent firm. I would even consider a portfolio website over a resume for the self-employed.


Expanding on both answers above: you absolutely need a CV, and as Mark points out it should be tailored to the specific employer's needs. The first line of narrative should be the 'elevator pitch': the closest match of skills and experience you bring to the proposed job - even if that work is something you did four years ago, followed by three jobs of other kinds.

The portfolio idea serves two purposes - in particular this is what you need to have on-line, and it should be detailed. Your resume will be returned with searches on various skills and applications, so for the on-line version 'you want them all'. The second is that the employer can see your 'range'. In short, 'SQL Server, C#, Winforms, HTML, JavaScript, CSS3, Microsoft Access, and SSRS' overlaps 'MySQL, Java, Swing, HTML, JavaScript, CSS3, and Oracle' in web components but doesn't in terms of server and business rule implementation. Sometimes it's that last little nibble of experience that closes the deal.

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