Some freelancers and professional consultants enter the business with the intent to make a full-time career out of a specific talent or area of expertise. If you love what you do, and what you do falls into a narrow area of focus, it’s smarter to take your talent to a wide range of high-paying clients than it is to sit moldering in an office, checking emails, and sitting through meetings while you wait for opportunities to exercise your true strength.
In a difficult job market, some also turn to freelancing and consulting as a way to make ends meet while they move between one permanent position and the next. But whether you’re stepping into your specialized gig to make more money and find fulfillment, or you’re just trying to pay the bills, you’ll find more success if you can stay busy. And a great resume can help you expand your client base and bring in all the short-term and contract jobs you can handle. Here are a few resume tips that can keep your work rolling in at a steady pace.
1. For independent contractors, a resume isn’t just a resume.
For most independent jobs, a resume will only offer a partial picture of what a candidate can actually do. Most employers will also be looking for concrete evidence of previous success. Nobody hires a contractor for one month based on her long-term growth potential: They hire her because of what she can do right now. And to make that assessment, they need to see what she’s already done. The center of your application will be your portfolio of finished work. Use your resume to frame and introduce this portfolio, but keep your work available and at the center of your reviewer’s attention.
2. Aggressively cut the fluff.
Your resume won’t benefit from fluff or buzzwords, but—as a contractor—you need to be especially careful about this. Be as straightforward as possible with every resume detail. Remember: Employers won’t hire you because of your enthusiasm, your attitude, the marathon you ran once, or the grades you earned in school. They aren’t looking for dynamic go-getters. They’re looking for a candidate who can increase their subscription rates by ten percent in a month. Or re-staff their marketing department. Or plan their wedding. They don’t want words: They want action.
3. Don’t customize…at least not too much.
Full-time job seekers only need one “yes” in order to put their search behind them. So it makes sense for them to invest hours in carefully tailoring every resume submission and cover letter to meet the needs of a specific employer. But freelancers can’t do this. In a way, independent contractors are always looking for work, and they aren’t getting paid to rewrite their resumes over and over. Stay efficient—find a reliable template and make only a few small tweaks for each employer.
4. Shake off rejection and keep going
Never let a “no” get you down. In fact, don’t let it slow your forward motion for even a single second. Rejection may be a bummer for full-time job seekers, and each no might warrant a few minutes of self-pity and a stiff drink. But contactors need to accept rejection as par for the course, just a simple cost of doing business in the real world. Think of each rejection as a sign that you’re working hard and putting yourself out there—better yet, don’t think of it at all. Just move on.
Before you invest any more effort in a weak or poorly formatted resume template, get some help from the outside, and put your search for new work back on track. Visit LiveCareer for tools and resume building resources that can help you bring in jobs without wasting time.