Dear Huddie

Dear Huddie: Contract Jobs on a Resume

May 10, 2013

Back for installment nine of Dear Huddie – a bi-weekly column to assist engineer job hunters in their pursuit of happiness. Spring is in the air, some can tell by the flowers, or baseball starting up – others dig deeper and think of Kentucky Derby Day as the start of spring. Now let’s see if we can get one of our big horses a winning job hunt!

Keeping the humor in the column, but I have to say, this one hurt!!!!

Engineers Birth Control Joke
Dear Huddie –

My contract job ends this Friday and I have no prospects for something else. I have a lot of contract jobs and more-than-average direct jobs on my resume. I’m finding that people aren’t calling me back although I have a deep skill set, plenty of in-depth experience, and a solid education. How can I write my resume so it doesn’t look like I am so unstable? I’m ready to buckle down and take a position to last at least the next ten years!

Signed,

– Job Market Blues in Erie.

Great question that I feel I can help with. Couple things to note, while I am not a person that conducts interviews, just reading your question made me think of you as someone who continues to find work, who is doing what you need to do to stay in the industry – this tells me you will persevere. The question is how to get a real interviewer to see the qualities I picked up in your question.

  1. This will require more work on your part – each resume you send will have to be geared toward the individual job requirements. We have to match your skill set with what you have gained in any applicable contract job. If you gained a skill set in a contract job that will aid in being hired in a full time spot, make sure that skill is listed on your resume.
  2. Along the same lines as #1, list and highlight the contract jobs on your resume that will help with the target job – for example if they are looking for an airline pilot, you do not need to list that you drove a cab. For example:
    • “U.S. Air co-pilot contracted through ACME temp agency” would help land the pilot job, so list it on the resume.
    • “NY City Cab Driver” does not help get the pilot job, so leave it off the resume. If there is a gap in the resume, be prepared to answer questions about the gap in time – but sell yourself. The question might be “there is nothing on your resume from 2006-2007, can you explain?” “Yes, at that time I was between jobs and to make ends meet I drove a cab.” The interviewer just wants to confirm you were not off in a dark place like prison!
  3. CONTACTS – while working contract jobs there will be some contacts and/or relationships you develop – keep these relationships going.  Change happens every day, so if you have a good contact, keep in touch. As engineers most of us are reluctant to cultivate that relationship – but it is a must. Do not overwhelm your contact, simply ask if you can check in every once in a while.

That’s it for now, next installment in two weeks – don’t forget to send your Dear Huddie questions to dearhuddie@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Huddie