Freelancers, be less like England manager Gareth Southgate when making IT contractor job applications

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Whether you watched them play Serbia, Denmark or Slovenia, it’s clear that recently, ‘The Three Lion’s have been struggling with cohesion and energy,.

And there’s a lesson here for tech freelancers trying to win work by using personal branding, writes Matt Craven of The CV & Interview Advisors.

Heat maps

Personally, I think our England football team have too many players gravitating toward the same area of the pitch, and this is backed up by heat map analysis of the England players throughout the season.

Midfielder Jude Bellingham is supposed to be our number 10, but Premier League 2023-24 player of the season Phil Foden, and striker Harry Kane, both naturally want to occupy that space too -- resulting in a congested attacking third and an imbalanced attacking structure.

But then, I’m not an international football manager, so perhaps there are mitigating factors that we mere mortals do not see. Although former England ace Alan Shearer seems to agree with me, so that makes me think I’m onto something!


One thing that has been consistently mooted, by various pundits for some time, is that England manager (at the time of writing) Gareth Southgate seems to lack a clear system.

And having a clear system is something I know a thing or two about.

Our CV advisory to IT contractors has developed a complete contract application system that is predicated on a ‘master and modular’ CV concept, to build hyper-targeted applications that massively increase interview rates.

It’s not just a CV; it’s a complete and repeatable system that is proven to work.

It’s all about reverse engineering job descriptions and building a CV in alignment with the job title, job mission, and decision-maker agendas; using value proposition statements and case studies to position yourself as the perfect solution for the client’s needs.

Heat maps again

If like the footy analysts do, you study heat maps, you can scientifically analyse how recruiters and hiring managers read CVs and subsequently align the information architecture of the document with reader psychology.

Let’s break all of this down:

Reverse engineering

The first thing to do is take the contract brief/job description and get your highlighter pen out.

Highlight the job title; the job mission, and then -- three main requirements of the role.

These become the key elements of your CV’s ‘Profile’ section where I recommend you start with a job title, a value proposition aligned with the job mission, and three key strengths aligned with the three key role requirements.


The rest of the requirements in the job description should be mentioned in a ‘Key Skills’ section that sits underneath the ‘Profile’ with two columns of about eight short-worded skills.

All the requirements should be mentioned in the ‘Experience’ section at least once and try to mention any keywords twice.

Still with me?


You’ll also want to provide evidence that you have the experience to match the job mission and key requirements, and this is where case studies come in. Have three ‘STAR’ case studies (Situation, Task, Action, Result) of 5-6 lines maximum, on page one in a ‘Key Projects’ section, to provide irrefutable evidence that you have the track record required to do the role.

I would recommend having a whole heap of these case studies pre-written and then you can pull in the three most relevant each time.

And whilst we’re talking about the Three Lions and all things three, we have three things that might be helpful:

You can avail a free and confidential 1-2-1 review of your CV here:

You can watch our recent webinar on how to use narrative marketing to win more IT contract work:

And we are also running a Euro 2024 pay-in-three instalments special offer. If you are interested, just email us at quoting 'FWPI3.' 

Written by

Matt Craven

The CV & Interview Advisors

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.

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