Hi all

I have a friend (yeah yeah, I know) who has just been told that her resume is costing her opportunities. I sent her to the resume podcast. The "feedback" she gets is that she has too many contract positions and no track record. This is true to a degree but all her contracts are high-end positions like Director of Research, Director of Competitive Intelligence etc. She has an MBA and a Master of Library Science.

Any thoughts on how to respond to these comments? Can you set up a resume category to include these positions so they look less contracty or less short term?

Much appreciated


bflynn's picture

There is nothing inherently bad about long term contracting. Some of my past employers believed that it implied a lack of commitment or that more money would be required to land a candidate. Not that it solves the problem, but this attitude is probably what your friend is facing. More important is to focus on the results section. Great results should be easier to iterate given closed ended jobs and having those results should make her stand out to employers.

There really isn't a way to "hide" contracting and hiding something isn't what you want to do on your resume anyway. If she worked for the same agency in multiple positions, listing the agency as the employer can help overcome the commitment inference. Still list the individual contracts as sub headings, like you would if you had multiple positions within a company. Its tough on a one page resume. Of course, if the jobs were direct or through multiple firms, there is no other option than listing them individually.

Realize that employers who are looking for positions to be filled long term will probably pass based on the job history. Having a new contract every year or two does imply that a person likes new experiences and would be bored with a "maintenance" job. So, she should probably target the opposite type of job, something in a project based division.

Hope this helps a little.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

You want us to bend time and space, too? :wink:

This is not a resume question. This is an interviewing question.

There is nothing wrong with a firm saying, "hmmmm" to a background like your friends'. And, it is incumbent upon her to think about what the strengths and weaknesses of her background are, and then sell to her strengths and address the weaknesses as objections are in any sales situation. And interviewing IS sales.

The level of the position is irrelevant. What does she think she's good at? WHY does she believe their concerns - and they probably go beyond just what they said (what does she think they MEAN?) - are not as valid as they might believe?

Shouldn't be too hard.


asteriskrntt1's picture

Hi Mark and Brian

Consider time and space bent :wink: Thank you very much for this. I am going to meet with her this afternoon and apply what you said, both to the resume and to address her interview skills. I very much appreciate your (many) observations.


DWElwell's picture
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When I see resumes that show a candidate changes employers every year or two, I am inherently skeptical. Of course, this depends on the nature of the work somewhat, but I tend to assume that either 1) the person is not likely to stay around when things get difficult or stressful, or 2) the person is asked to leave for what ever reason.

The flip side is that if I see a resume for someone who has done the same thing for the same employer for a long time, I tend to wonder why there has been no growth - does the person lack ability or initiative? are they going to be a leader?

What this means is that it is important to probe in the interview to see if there is a good explanation for what's there. Also, it's really important to check references!!!

asteriskrntt1's picture

I know I am newish at all this management stuff but why bring in someone you are suspicious of for an interview. If you have already decided beforehand that something "evil" has gone on, you are not likely to treat them fairly in the interview.

Have all these hiring managers and recruiters been oblivious to the market since the mid-80s and can't comprehend that very few people now have long-term employment? Companies are hiring more and more contract employees yet are shocked and dismayed when they see candidates with lots of contract positions on their resumes and assume there is something wrong with the candidates. DUH

(Shaking his head in disbelief)


DWElwell's picture
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I think I may not have been entirely clear and left you with a misperception.

I would expect a lot of short term jobs for someone who does contract work, but in such a case, I would anticipte a person would indicate they were self employed, and list the contracts they had as customers vice employers. For example, I have worked on a number of contracts as an employee of my current employer. I don't list each contract as a separate postion, however. I woud do the same if I were self employed, i.e. working on contract.

Also, I said, skeptical - not suspicious. If I was suspicious, I would not bring them in for an interview at all. But I so rarely see an "ideal" candidate that I often interview folks for which there's >something< negative I want to ask deeper quesitons about.