What is the best way to describe periods of independent consulting/contracting?

Friday, August 8th, 2008 - CV Writing


Tom asks: What is the best way to describe periods of independent consulting/contracting on a resume? I’m looking for advice on any best practices in terms of representing independent contracting relationships on a resume where other periods of time are with full-time employment situations. How would you go about enhancing the perceived legitimacy/value of this experience while balancing the need for brevity in terms of clients served, diversity of work, etc…? For recruiters and other hiring professionals: Do you get a certain feeling in your gut when you get a resume that has a mix of independent work alongside other full-time gigs?

In answer:
The positioning of any period of employment in a CV/Resume wholly depends on the durations of time in each post – be those permanent employment or temporary contract.

I’ll answer your second question first. Recruiters and HR people pay most attention to your last two/five years of employment record – its the track record there that show’s what you are most capable of with least risk to them. Hence if that period is unmanaged and with high turnover – be it permanent or contract – then yes, many will get a bad gut feel.

However, there are ways of smoothing out those changes – but as a base rule, always tell the truth: it will always out in interview, and leaves you under far less stress. Hence there is no need to lie to “enhance the perceived legitimacy/value of this experience” – its just presentation

As a general rule, if you spent less than six months in post, then describe the project you were engaged on to deliver; if you spent more than six months doing multiple contracts with multiple employers all on contract, then define it as one solid period of contracting work, with a brief summary and associated list of project achievements. In the later case, this would mean that six pieces of project work each last six/eight weeks would end up as one six/eight month period of employment. In example:

Virtual Assistant, 2/2005 to Present <---- (the entire time you have been doing contract work instead of listing each project by date) Independent contractor for several, long-term clients including Fortune 500 companies such as ABC Company Name and XYZ Corp. Additionally serviced small business owners with occasional, seasonal, and one-time projects. Expertise in human resources and recruitment as well as general, remote office management. Selected projects: * Sourced and screened job candidates at all levels for a major corporation that grosses more than $39B annually.
* Conducted 1,000+ pre-employment and tenant background screenings for Company Name.
* Provided remote customer service for Company Name, an international restaurant chain operating as a subsidiary of XYZ Corp. with over 30,000 locations worldwide.
* Transcribed, edited, and proofread 200+ medical, general, and legal audio files for a local attorney engaged in workers’ compensation court actions.

I have clients who have spent two years in a permanent position, and then two or three years contracting in multiple positions, and then back to permanent – these are simply summarised as three periods of work.

Never lie on your CV/Resume, and particularly not on the companies application form – this is a legally binding document, and lying on that form is a sackable offence. But presentation of experience in a managed career – be that permanent or contract – is always possible to enable you to get that job interview.

Good Luck, and if I can help further, please – just ask!

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