Certified professional resume writer minimizes project-based work and highlights stability and accolades in order to help contractor find full-time work.
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“Melissa Mooney” needed a strategy for how to move from extended contract and project work to a full-time job. Most immediately, she had some serious concerns about how to position her resume.Since 2000, she had successfully worked as an employee at a company that placed her on long-term assignments where she would work onsite at client offices. The work had been project based, with an average assignment length of four months.
Our master plan was to highlight Melissa’s skills and de-emphasize the fact that her work had been project based. The strategy would have been the same if she had been an independent contractor.
While the name of her actual employer was included on her original resume as a provider of business services, we minimized this mention on her new resume. The only indication that this was onsite project work with clients was the phrase “Handle client assignments with average length of four months.” It was not positioned next to the job title like “Contract Internal Auditor” would be. Instead, it was subtle, and also gave an opportunity to note that she had experience learning new operating and financial-reporting systems very quickly.
Show the scope of work.
Melissa had a lot of expertise to showcase. She recovered $8.5M through contract reviews and was involved with a complex, general -ledger reconciliation for 10 facilities. She even organized and completed a three-year bank reconciliation. So I highlighted Audit, Finance and Client Relations on her new resume as general categories of high-level work that she could do well, showing accomplishments and scope of work.
In a similar situation? The process of writing a resume that positively highlights work done on a contract or project basis includes:
1. Remove older or other information that is not relevant.
I removed information that was not pertinent to her job search. The original resume went back 38 years, to 1971. The five oldest jobs took up more than one full page, and they were too old to include. By removing those jobs, there was now room to focus on more current work and keep the resume at two pages.
The new resume begins with her work for her latest employer, which spanned 24 years; it showed a nice progression of job titles and duties, with career stability from 1985 – 2000. But the section for those 15 years of work was very short and highlighted her work as an employee.
2. Use a visual format that is easy to read.
The original resume was hard to read with dense text, 2-1/2 pages in length, poor use of white space, and too many bullets. A new format was created with a more executive look that was easier to read.
3. Identify and organize information that gives credibility.
The technology skills were organized into sections, with financial applications first because they were most relevant. The work as an adjunct professor in money and banking gave credibility. The professional associations indicated that she was involved with her professional peers.
4. Develop a writing strategy.
Determine why the contract and/or project work is advantageous, not a detriment.
I wanted the reader to focus on what Melissa had done, not how she was paid. I showed that her professional background was actually broader from doing project work, giving her an opportunity to learn from a wider variety of situations.
5. Present the project work as if it were done as an employee.
While still discretely showing that either you were self-employed as a consultant or doing contract work through a third party, feature the work first. This writing will allow you to focus on what you have to offer your next employer. Go back and look at the first page of the resume. It is actually written the same as if Melissa had been an employee all those years.
The “headline” positioned Melissa as a financial executive with specific experience in manufacturing, professional services, and internal audit. I did not say she was a consultant.
Once all those basic changes were made, we had a new resume that gently managed her past nine years of project work. The heart of the strategy was to focus on accomplishments and general areas of expertise. This entire section was presented on one page.
Melissa had some very clear accomplishments she’d brought to the service of the company. Those accomplishments included reducing costs ; increasing revenue ; and identifying lack of internal controls, flawed contracts and internal processes, including collusion among senior financial executives. The header for this section indicated that these were just representative accomplishments. This section was “front and center” to highlight the importance of the information. If she could do this type of high-level work for a past employer, she could do it for the next one. All of these accomplishments were representative of what other companies might need.
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