A modern resume is really a tool of the modern candidate. If you are not picking a format that works to your advantage, you are missing out on an important opportunity. If you are an experienced contractor, your resume likely is heavy with temporary assignments which don’t necessarily show well when listed in the traditional chronological format. If an employer is not familiar with the nature of contracting and temporary work, it can look odd or like you bounce from position to position with little regard for the company, which is anything but the truth when it comes to experienced consultants and subject matter experts who thrive on contract work. Here are a few options to consider to make sure your resume is structured in a way that brings your skills and your experience to light.
Breaking Away from the Traditional Chronological Format
You are likely used to the common reverse-chronological resume format which presents your skills and experience in terms of jobs held from most recent to least. Consider instead a skills-based resume, or perhaps organizing by staffing agency. With these alternative formats, the focus is less on the time spent on each contract, but rather the value you brought to each client or company.
The focus should be on the specific skills and accomplishments that you want to highlight and the experience within your work history that prove your skills. These formats allow you to focus on the most relevant pieces of your professional qualifications. You can still provide employment history if it makes sense or you know is relevant to the role, but the focus of the document is clearly the experiences and skills that you can bring to a new job.
Skills-based resumes are a great option for candidates who have either a limited or overly expansive work history. In order to keep a resume at just the right length (neither too short nor too long), focusing on relevant and the experience to back them up brings a reader’s attention to the most relevant skills for a job. This format is a good option for candidates who have significant gaps in their work history, and those who are changing careers or industries.
What Information Should You Include?
First and foremost, you need to pick the key skills that you want to build your resume around. You can do this by determining what job you want to target and focusing on the skills required for that job. Generally, three to four broad skill sets are a solid basis to build a skills-based resume around. From there you should draft several accomplishment statements (most likely in bullet or list form) that describe your experience in each skill area. Focus on your individual achievements and results gained using your skills. This section will be the main body of your resume, with the most content. You can follow this up with a short work history that briefly lists previous titles, employers, employment dates, and location. No matter what your resume template looks like, employers want to know what you’re good at. Tell them clearly and consistently to make sure they understand why you are a great fit for the role.
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