Resume Hacks for Contractors

Resumes; the necessary marketing document to use for your job hunt. The act of crafting up the right resume for any professional is an art in and of itself. For contractors, I have noticed, it can be exponentially more difficult. This is due to the fact, for most professional contractors, you have a plethora of relevant experience with a number of different clients in many different areas. Here, I’m going to offer some quick advice for resume building, specifically for contractors, that can help in the on-going and ever-changing world of job hunting!

Hack #1: Relevant and Recent Dates of Contracting

If you’ve been contracting for 10+ yrs, please note the work you did ten or more years ago, while relevant to the engineer that you’ve become today, is probably not relevant for the work you are applying for anymore. Any experience you have 10+ years ago can be put into a quick summary or taken completely out of your resume.

If you’ve been contracting for only the last couple of years, you can be a little bit more detailed in your approach. However, please note in your resume when you started professionally contracting, so that an interviewer or recruiter can see that clearly.

Hack #2: Skills Summaries

For all engineering resumes, Skills Summaries are very, very important. I usually see skills listed in some sort of bullet style. I recommend not only having a full skills summary listed at the top of a resume, but also list out the technology(ies) used in each contract you worked on. This can get lengthy, depending on the work you do, so please list out the skills you worked with on a daily/regular basis if the list is getting too long.

Hack #3: Location and Availability

Contracting, in general, is a great way to work with companies around the world remotely and to diversify your location easily. A mistake that I have seen in contractor resumes is having too much location information for previous contracts. What you need in your resume is to list where you are and where you’re willing to go. If you list every company you have done work for and where they are located, this can confuse your interviewer as to your location. Information on previous locations is often times not even needed.

Regarding availability, what I haven’t seen often, but what would be a useful tool, is for contractors to list off in their resume in plain detail what specific dates they are available to start work on another project. Most contractors I have spoken with start interviewing for their next gig about a month in advance, so having your availability listed can save you a few moments in an interview explaining this.

Hack #4: Detail why Contracts Ended

Employers love to see people staying in the same jobs for a long time to show commitment, and this is where intrinsically, contractors are at a disadvantage. To combat this, be sure to list why your contracts ended or how often they were extended for. If you are consistently finishing contracts to the end that eases a hiring manager’s worries. Additionally, if you can say your contract was extended ‘x’ amount of times, that is a big bragging point!

Hack #5: List what you want!

In a contracting lifestyle, I bet you have worked on a vast number of cool projects and have a diverse skill set because of that. When a recruiter or hiring manager looks at your resume, they might not be able to decipher in detail what exactly you are looking for because of your diverse background. I would suggest adding in something about what sort of jobs and work you are looking to do and what technologies you are looking to do more work with. Being detailed in this regard is a good thing, as it will ensure you are contacted for what you are looking for, rather than just what you can qualify for!

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Cheri Kruger Muhle

Cheri is a professional technical recruiter at Gorilla Logic. She’s been there for 4 years, and has lived in Colorado for nearly 10! She grew up on a farm in Texas and has thoroughly enjoyed the pleasures of living in the city. When not recruiting, she’s usually playing guitar, playing with her dog, Bailey, or looking up how to DIY various projects around her house. Fun fact: she has produced an album of her own original songs...but she’s not quitting her day job anytime soon.

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