I received an email from someone trying to figure out how to minimize any negative impressions his resume may make to potential employers because he had worked a number of contract and consulting projects. When he lists his entire job history, it looks like he’s been hopping jobs way too often when in fact it’s the nature of the project work he’s done. Some of his assignments were a matter of days and others for several months, but it makes a chronological resume look bad.
This is not an uncommon problem, and likely one that will continue to grow as a greater percentage of people take advantage of contract or consulting opportunities. The number of companies that use contract workers is increasing every year as well as the frequency and types of positions they use them for. When a company sees a need for additional help for a particular project that has a beginning and an end, it makes much more sense to use a contract worker for that period of time than to hire a new ‘permanent’ employee that they may have to lay-off when the project is done.
So, for someone like the person that sent me the email, who has been contracting for years but now would like to be considered for a permanent / full-time position, how do you create an honest resume that doesn’t scare a potential employer off?
Minimize what appears to be job-hopping through groupings!
When, as in the case of my emailer, you’ve been working contract or consulting positions exclusively for a period of time, treat that time period as one ‘job’ on your resume. For example, if you’ve worked on 12 projects over a 5 year period, you might show that on your resume like this:
Contract and Consulting Assignments 2004 – 2009
Engaged on a number of projects that have included:
- Network Administration - Desktop / PC Support
- Hardware Troubleshooting - LAN Installations
- Desktop Roll-Outs - Software Distribution
Technologies included: Windows XP/Vista; Windows Server 2003; Norton Ghost; SMS; Active Directory; Altiris
Companies included: Target Corp; 3M; Cargill; Digital River; United Health Group; Peak Systems
- Completed several projects ahead of schedule
- Gained ability to adapt to multiple new environments and technologies quickly
- Gained broad range of understanding of multiple processes and procedures
Certainly more specific details, and accomplishments ought to be included, particularly as they are relevant to your actual experience. However, I believe this is a great way to display your related experience, not hide from the fact that you’ve had several assignments, yet not clutter your resume with too much detail.
Never embellish, and never be deceitful about your job history. However, it’s also not necessary to over-emphasize what might be perceived as negatives. Group multiple positions under a relevant heading with the appropriate date range and you can produce an effective document that will help your job hunting process rather than hinder it!