An open letter to the UK recruitment industry about IR35

This is a follow up to an earlier post recounting my experiences of the public sector IR35 rollout and provides timely advice to those who will experience the private sector rollout of the same

I wish the recruitment industry would use the private sector IR35 rollout as an opportunity to properly move away from just using CVs to interact with both clients and contractors in their talent sourcing work.

I have an optimised CV designed to perform well in the ATS systems (it cost £500 to have this authored would you believe) however it deliberately presents a very narrow view of myself and it certainly does not include any details about my consultancy services or me personally. That’s because the recruitment process generally frowns on such details and by including them, it actually reduces my chance of an interview would you believe.

However as a comparison and in respect to the times where I directly bid for work, I use my company website ( and my portfolio of work contained on it rather than a CV. These do a much better job of illustrating my broad industry knowledge acquired from 20 years of contracting and varied on-going training. This also leaves no doubt to a prospective client that I only ever work “outside IR35”.

I don’t work outside of IR35 for tax reasons. I work outside because a key benefit I bring to clients is the offering of a genuinely independent and unentrenched perspective to all my work, along with the freedom to speak honestly about problems I may come across. And that is what makes me self-employed.

So how then can the recruitment industry better support efforts like mine and the same of many other of my colleagues who run limited companies for reasons other than tax planning. A bad solution would be to simply add more “IR35 friendly” terms in standard agency contract with a continued underlying assumption we want to be part and parcel of another shareholder’s organisation.

I believe it’s now in everyone’s interest, be that client or applicant or recruiter, to have a more open and transparent recruitment process that allows the applicant’s true reasons for being in the marketplace to better come through. It would help protect everyone in the recruitment supply chain especially when engaging individuals who are genuinely self-employed.

Why not make better use of assets like websites, portfolios, GitHub repos, pitch decks instead of just an ATS optimised CV when sourcing for talent? Particularly outside IR35 talent.

Lets all avoid the unnecessary threat of back taxes in a smart and proper way.

Frank Ray

Frank Ray & Associates is a software engineering consultancy that builds high quality software for businesses.

We develop new applications, automate manual processes, integrate vendor packages, replace Excel workarounds, fix unreliable applications, retire end of life software and remove dependence on poor value suppliers.

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AndyAt6prog 26 January 2021 Reply

Quite right Frank.

As you know 6prog links out to platforms where our users can show their companies services and our profiles are based around capabilities, not a CV.

Dave Porter 29 January 2021 Reply

Well said indeed. Do you have a recommendation for a good ATS optimisation? That sound alike something I need!

Frank Ray 29 January 2021 Reply

If you submit your CV to various major job boards, they usually have an option to additionally submit your CV for review to one of their partners. I’ve employed several over a number of years, and being two. Shop around you have plenty of options.

Luke 12 February 2021 Reply

TBH, even for full time employees they should be doing this. CV’s are a total waste of time imo.

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