How to Make Your CV IR35 Friendly

With the IR35 / Off Payroll reforms applying from April 2020, I’ve been writing a lot about how the new post-reform landscape will affect wining-work strategies and in particular, how to write an IR35-friendly CV, writes Matt Craven, Founder of The CV and Interview Advisors.

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We provide free CV appraisals (click on the link just to the left and scroll down to the bottom of the page to upload your CV) for Contractors, which incorporate an audit of how outside or inside IR35 their CV appears, but here are a few quick wins that you can apply straight away:

  • Writing your CV in an implied first person style rather than using pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘my’
  • Mentioning your limited company name and having a proper business email address
  • Mentioning your independent contractor / business status in your opening summary
  • Promoting outcomes not tasks – true businesses don’t talk about tasks in marketing literature
  • Talking about what you do for clients and how you deliver business benefits
  • Using marketing case studies in your CV to showcase client assignments
  • Using terminology such as ‘engaged to do xyz’ rather than ‘hired to do xyz’
  • Eradicating employee-related terminology such as who you reported to
  • Including recommendations from clients rather than ‘references are available on request’

And there are others, but let’s move on and talk about the fundamental structure of your CV.

A chronological CV that details your permanent career and contracting roles in reverse chronological order has always been the safe option - all recruiters and clients are familiar with this format. However, in the new post-reform world, does this style of CV support your ‘true business’ status or does it make you look more like a typical job seeker?!

I responded to a question from a Contractor recently who makes a great point - their question went something like this:

“When I contact a builder for some work in my home, I do not ask him/her for their CV. At best I ask for references or maybe what work the company delivered. Wouldn’t it be better to have a ‘company CV’? If we play the agency's game and be treated as employee, it makes it more difficult to prove we are not”.

So, is there such a thing as a company CV?

Before I answer that question, it’s important to say that winning work through recruiters is often in conflict with how you portray yourself through your CV and any other marketing collateral. There is no right and wrong and the chronological CV is unlikely to go out of fashion any time soon. There is however an alternative that is worthy of consideration.

Over ten years ago, we developed the case study style CV to help contractors present their lengthy careers in a more manageable way; in many cases, to avoid the 6-page monster that many contractors had ended up with. Some recruiters loved it, and some were more aligned with a chronological CV, but it was always a highly effective style of CV for experienced Contractors using experienced contract recruiters, approaching clients direct or securing work through their network.

This case study style CV has a section that explains your status as an Independent Contractor / business that delivers assignments on behalf of clients; it also doesn’t have a traditional career history that your average permanent job seeker would have. Instead, it becomes a portfolio of case studies with each 6-line case study focusing on individual projects / assignments.

We recommend having eight to ten of these six-line case studies written in the STAR methodology, which can be re-ordered depending on the requirements of the contract role you are pitching for.

In many ways, it’s more of a business marketing document than a traditional CV; it makes it very clear that you are a ‘gun-for-hire’ and focuses on client engagements in a much more business-orientated format. Come April 2020, it might be a format that helps Contractors reinforce their outside IR35 status.

Want to find out more?

If you would like to find out more, we are running a short session on Friday 10th January at 1pm where we will go into more detail about these IR35 tactics and the ins and outs of the case study style CV. You can register here:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1029381880987875074

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