How to Write an IT Consultant CV
IT consultants work on a contractual basis, which means that an IT Consultant CV will need to reflect a range of skills and will draw on different combinations for different contracts.
The IT consultant's CV therefore presents a number of challenges. Firstly, there is the need to clearly present a work history that consists of many short contracts, so fails to fit into standard formats. Second, there is the need to express a wide range of technical skills to different clients who might only need a few of them. Third, there is the need to demonstrate consultant skills as well as technical skills.
Your CV must be effective enough as a marketing document to promote you the consultant as being the best candidate in the field. This means getting the format correct, ensuring spelling and grammar are immaculate, and above all, communicating the central message effectively and powerfully.
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IT Consulting Areas
There are a plethora of areas in which IT specialists can work, but the fields where consulting work exists are somewhat fewer. Here are the key areas.
- Software application development.
- Software system architecture and design.
- Network administration.
- Database administration.
- System integration.
- OS/network/database software upgrading and configuration.
- Server hardware upgrading and configuration.
- Telecommunication centre support.
- COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) implementation.
- Data centre support.
When writing your IT Consultant CV for IT Jobs, make sure that you only cover the areas that are important to your next contract. For example if you're aiming for system integration projects, don't use most of the space on your CV to talk about database administration (unless this is part of the project too).
Who Is Reading Your IT Consultant CV?
As an IT consultant, you will be working for a range of different clients in, possibly, a number of different industries or sectors. It's possible that you may specialise in one area, in which case your CV writing challenges are going to be fewer. However, if your clients range from financial organisations to medical providers, it's likely that you will have to write several versions of your professional CV.
This is because the clients' business requirements and objectives are going to be different. You have to understand their related IT needs in order to write an IT Consultant CV with the power to persuade them that you can help them address those needs.
Achieving a suitable level of understanding requires undertaking some research. You may know a great deal about each business sector already, yet in order to target your IT Consultant CV effectively, it is best to heighten your awareness of their requirements and the language used to express them.
As well as knowing their business goals, do you know what challenges they face within their marketplace? Their vision of a successful IT project might be different to theirs - do you know how they view it? What kinds of investments do companies in these sectors make?
Rather than going ahead and making applications straight away, try to read about what is happening. Use jobs' and careers' websites, relevant news and information sites, professional associations' sites and trade magazines to strengthen and broaden your understanding of your clients.
As well as desk research, you can network and talk to individuals who are already operating in that sector. It is better to talk directly to managers than to recruiters and human resource personnel, as their motivations are different.
The managers will be focused on business objectives and results, so will have a good notion of who can help them to achieve these. If you know somebody who could look at your existing CV, take the opportunity to ask them to do so.
Awareness of the clients' business will help you to shape your IT Consultant's CV on every level. It informs your profile or summary, as you can indicate your relevant knowledge, skills and experience at the very start of your CV.
Your achievements should be tailored to highlight results that are in line with the clients' current objectives, by mentioning the size and scope of organisations you worked for as well as the outcome of projects.
You can, of course, include details of contracts that are a good match for the clients' current brief. Also, by knowing how the client is aligned in their marketplace, you can ensure that you mention former clients whose names will be respected and create an impact.
Presenting Technical Skills on an IT Consultant CV
It is important to present your multiple skills with confidence on your IT Consultant CV.
Do not present a long list in which you start with the skills that 99% of other applicants will also possess.
Instead, organise your skills into a table, wherein the most current and desirable skills you possess will be seen first.
You need to emphasise the technology requirements that match the current brief or assignment.
If the project requires standard skills, then you need to present the industry standard technologies as your core skills set - in other words, you must show that you have completely mastered these skills and are an expert in the technologies.
The more add-ons you can provide the better, but be careful not to create a long list that makes it look as if you are a 'jack of all trades, master of none' on your IT Consultant CV.
Licences, industry accreditation, security clearances and certification are important, as they establish you as a recognised professional in your industry.
Presenting Consultants' Skills on an IT Consultant's CV
It is not enough to offer technical skills on an IT Consultant CV - you must show that you can understand and apply these in effective technology solutions. More than this, you must show that you are motivated and passionate about doing so.
Clients need to feel confident that you can solve their problems and they are only going to feel confidence in you if you express confidence in yourself. If you do not have the drive to evaluate and analyse problems before identifying solutions, then you are unlikely to succeed in this kind of work.
Likewise, many of the skills needed to make a successful consultant are soft skills (transferable skills) - i.e. those based in personal attributes. You have to highlight these in your IT Consultant CV, so that the client will want to meet you to learn more. Personal attributes include the ability to focus on an issue for long periods of time, even processing it in the back of your mind while occupied with other things.
The ability to see the 'bigger picture' is important, as you need to be able to take a 360 degree view of a problem or assignment. Approaching a project with 'fresh eyes' will enable you to see angles that may not have been noticed by the client, meaning you can then identify new solutions they have not considered.
Clearly, you need the ability to work independently, coming into an organisation from outside and communicating with many people in different departments or, in some cases, different companies. Occasionally, your presence may be resented, so being able to remain unswayed by negative responses is an asset.
The ability to prioritise work amongst many tasks, while responding to the priorities of other parties, is valuable. Flexibility and adaptability allow you to respond to sometimes demanding schedules of assignments. At other times, you will need to take a stand on an issue or point, and resist attempts to direct your findings or results, or attempts to move you outside the brief.
Integrity is invaluable. As an outsider working within an organisation in the short term, becoming privy to critical business information, it is important that clients are able to trust you. Conveying integrity is difficult, but can be achieved by stating your values and motivations in your IT Consultant CV (and cover letter), and by presenting past contracts with respected and known clients.
Provide Evidence on Your IT Consultant CV
For everything that you claim in your IT Consultant's CV, you need to provide evidence. The earliest point you can do this is in your Achievements section.
Here you can include examples of assignments and outcomes that are relevant to the prospective client.
These will mostly be examples of earlier assignments, but can also be articles you have written (thus demonstrating expertise in a particular area) or links through to relevant websites jobs that you have been involved in.
The more impressive your achievements are, the better, so long as you do not lose relevance to the advertised contract. It's usually better to focus on larger projects than the smaller 'time fillers', even though these may be valuable in themselves.
When writing these projects up in your Career History section, it may be best to add detail beneath the entries for large projects, while leaving very short term jobs as single lines (you can even relegate them to a list of contracts at the end of your IT Consultant CV).
Every entry beneath your contracts should read like an achievement. However, always be sure to have documentary evidence in case it is asked for. This particularly applies to the quantification of achievements, when stating how much expenditure you saved, time or costs reduced, profit earned, numbers of sites, domains and servers, sales resulting from an e-commerce project, etc.
Every recruiter is on the look out for exaggerated claims, so it's important to stick to the facts, while presenting them boldly.
Always avoid presenting dull lists. Also, always think, "will the recruiter know what this means?" If their industry knowledge will inform them as to the award or acronym you are using, then all well and good. If it won't inform them, then you will be wasting space with information they can't interpret. So, if explanation is required, give it (briefly).
Stick to the Point in your IT Consultant CV
Having researched the business you are applying to, it's important that you avoid straying from the core message of your IT Consultant CV, which is how you can help them to meet their needs (not to fulfil your own message). Be tough with yourself and cut out anything that is not relevant.
Do not create long lists of skills you learned in formal education. While these are important at the early stage of your career, they are very quickly superseded by the hands-on experience you gain in the real world, achieving real results.
Although some explanation may be necessary here and there, avoid becoming long winded. Your sentences should be short and punchy, albeit professional and polished. Use bullet points and avoid paragraphs altogether, as these are less readable. A time-pressured client is not likely to read lengthy chapters about your career history.
Always, always focus on the most important, relevant information they need to know. If you are indeed suited to the contract, then this will create such an impact that other information is rendered secondary in any case. If you can't create that impact by the end of the Achievements section, then you are not going to grab the client's attention further down your CV.
Is Your IT Consultant CV Up-to-date?
Never assume that because your IT Consultant's CV worked well for you five years ago, it will still work well for you today.
Simply adding recent contracts as soon as they are completed is not the same as updating your CV.
In the fast moving technology sector, you need to be constantly reviewing and tailoring your CV in order to show that your experience is contemporary.
Ideally, you should return to the composition of your IT Consultant CV with every contract you apply for, as you need to angle it towards that particular organisation. You may have more than one version on the go at once, tailored to different industries, so that updating should occur as a matter of course.
If you don't, you risk being outrun by newer entrants to the busy technology consultant marketplace, who will come across as fresher, more up-to-date and more on-the-ball than you are.
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