Contracting – how to best present your work history

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Q: I have been doing contracting for several well-known companies.  I have lots of experience, and would like to secure a full-time position.  My resume is viewed by many as having many short stints.  I explain to recruiters that the contract roles were lucrative and added to my experience in my industry.  My question to you: Is there a way to highlight my experience and skills with these companies without it looking like I can’t hold a job?

A: Contracting, free lancing and consulting are more often part of a professional worker’s employment history.  Twenty years ago, contracting was unusual.  Today it is often part of a candidate’s work history.

One alternative to consider is the following format:

Experienced independent consultant working closely with a variety of high-profile clients, including XYZ Inc., QRS LLC, SSS Inc., and YYY Inc.  Specific areas of expertise include public relations, media relations, web analytics, copy writing, event and tradeshow management.  Projects include:

  • Re-engineered …
  • Developed innovative method…
  • Launched new system…

Using this format, it clearly demonstrates and articulates your areas of expertise.  It also identifies your recognizable client names and describes sample projects that you have worked on.   If you have a website, which further details your experience, I would also include that url.  Perhaps most importantly, it presents your professional work history in a cohesive manner.  If you don’t have a company name to list at the top, consider using the name that you have used for your independent contracts (think about what you put on the invoice).

Sometimes it is all the way you present information.  Good luck in your search!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.