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When it comes to applying for jobs as a contractor, think of the resume-writing process as you would think of building a house. Start with the foundation by choosing the right format for your resume, and build up from there, adding skills and experiences. This guide will act as the blueprint to your resume and will also offer advice on key attributes to include in your final document. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to look at numerous contractor resume samples, paying special attention to format, structure, and sections.
What to Include in a Contractor Resume
If you have dabbled in a few different specialties, such as plumbing, carpentry, and masonry, you may be a little unsure of what to put down in your resume. This confusion is understandable, and you should know that whether you have extensive experience in one area or you are a jack of all trades, you should have a unique, tailor-made resume for each different position you apply for.
Look up contractor resume samples that relate to the job you want. You can see what other professionals in your field list on their resumes and in what type of order. As you will notice, the main points to focus on are as follows.
- Professional Summary Statement
- Skills and Qualifications
- Work Experience
The traditional format to use for a resume is the chronological style. This structure makes it easy for the hiring manager to follow your career, starting from the most recent job to the earliest. You can think of the chronological resume as a reverse timeline of your career path, training, and education.
Workers with limited experience or those who have been independent contractors sometimes prefer the functional resume. This style focuses more on qualifications and skills as opposed to listing the positions you have held. If you have worked on a variety of projects without being directly employed by any one company, the functional resume may work in your favor.
Compare contractor resume samples written in both formats to determine which one would best highlight your skills and experience. Some professionals even create a combination resume that utilizes traits of chronological and functional styles.
How to Write the Contractor Resume Summary Statement
The summary statement is the introduction of your resume. Its purpose is to briefly introduce you to the hiring manager while highlighting your most important professional qualities.
Generally, you will want to include three to four statements about your career. There is no need to waste space by stating that you want the position. Instead, try to mention your experience in terms of a descriptive job title or position. Then, include at least one hard skill that pertains to the job you’re applying for and one soft skill that would enhance your ability to succeed in that position.
Reading several contractor resume samples will give you a good idea of proper phrasing and what to include. The job description will also give you insight as to what the company is looking for. Without repeating the job description verbatim, try to include a few key words that the hiring manager may be looking for.
The following two summary statements are good examples of what yours should look like and sound like.
- Dependable electrician with the ability to complete projects under strict deadlines while delivering quality results. Works well with general contractors and other subcontractors in an effort to complete projects efficiently. Extensive experience in both commercial and residential projects.
- Experienced construction manager with extensive knowledge of cost estimation and state building codes. Spent over ten years satisfying commercial and residential clients as an independent contractor. Adept at utilizing cost-estimating software, communicating clearly with clients, and managing laborers on the job.
How to Write the Contractor Education Section
No matter which format you choose, the education section should be listed in reverse chronological order. The basic information to include is the name and location of the school in addition to the degree, diploma, or certification you earned. College coursework takes priority over high school education, so there is no need to list your high school if you have attended college.
Take a look at other contractor resume samples to see if there is anything you should include that falls under the category of education.
If you only have a high school diploma under your belt, consider putting apprenticeships and on-the-job training under the education section. Any specialty certifications you have would also go here to enhance your skills sets and qualifications.
How to Write the Contractor Work Experience Section
Assuming you’re writing a chronological resume, list your work history in reverse chronological order. Typically, you will not want to list anything that occurred more than 15 years ago. An exception would be if you have some qualifications from your past that would really make you stand out.
Other contractor resume samples will give you an idea of how the work experience section should be formatted. No matter which style you choose to mimic, ensure you are consistent throughout each entry. For example, if you only list the month and year for one position, then do that for every job experience that you list.
As you can see from contractor resume samples, you should include highlights of your experience underneath each entry. Some professionals simply list their duties and responsibilities, but you will be doing yourself a favor if you go beyond just that. Try to include quantifiable accomplishments that substantiate your claims and indicate how you added value to a job.
If you have work experience in a variety of industries, try to stick with just the positions that relate to the specific job you are going for. As stated earlier, each resume should be tailored to the position, and you should frame your job history accordingly.
Action Verbs to Include in Your Contractor Work Experience Section
One of the best ways to express your achievements and experience in a resume is to start each statement or bullet point with an action verb. These strong words help you get straight to the point without crowding your resume with too many descriptive adjectives. Take examples from contractor resume samples if you’re having difficulty coming up with your own. You may also use some of the industry-specific verbs listed below.
How to Write the Contractor Skills Section
The skills section is usually the primary focus of a functional resume. It gives you a chance to showcase the abilities that you may have obtained outside of employment and formal education.
Contractor resume samples show you how the skills section is typically formatted using bullet points and short sentence fragments. To conserve space on your resume, you can create two separate columns for listing your relevant skills.
There is a vast range of talents that contractors may have picked up along the way, but try to keep your skills listing to those that pertain to the position you want. However, some general contractor positions require workers who have a variety of specialties. If this is the case, list the ones you have that you think would be helpful to landing the job.
Use several contractor resume samples to get ideas of what types of skills to include, and take a look at the following examples.
- Hand and Power Tools
- Blueprint Interpretation
- Knowledge of Building Codes
- Construction Site Experience
The hiring manager wants to be able to scan the skills section to see your base qualifications, so try to keep it simple yet descriptive. Once again, use key words from the job description to reassure the potential employer that you are qualified for that position.
Finally, don’t leave out soft skills like strong time management and communication skills.
Should I Include References in my Contractor Resume?
References are an important part of the hiring process, but they do not necessarily need to be included in the resume stage. You should refrain from listing any references until the company contacts you and asks for them. The resume is for highlighting your skills and experience, and references don’t really fit into any of the sections.
If you do impress the hiring manager with your well-crafted resume and he or she asks for references, you can then include names and contact information in a separate document. Try to stick with just professional relationships, such as supervisors and coworkers who are masters of their trade. All references should be contacted by you first to make sure that they are comfortable with you giving out their information to other employers.
Contractor Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid
- Do not use abbreviations, acronyms, jargon, or slang anywhere in your resume. The only exception is if you first define the abbreviated form before using an acronym later in your resume.
- Refrain from stating the reason you left previous positions unless it is to explain a short-term contract position. You are trying to boost your chances of getting hired, so the resume should only list positive qualities about your professional life.
- Don’t neglect your soft skills in your resume. The hiring manager does want to know that you are capable of handling certain equipment, but it is also important to note whether you are able to work well with others and can manage your time to meet deadlines.
- Avoid expanding your resume beyond two or three pages. Even if you have extensive experience in your field, minimize your entries to the most recent and most relevant qualifications. Prove your efficiency by highlighting your best skills, and save the expansion for your interview.
Job Prospects in the Contractor Industry
Since the contractor industry is directly correlated with the economy, the horizon is looking optimistic for these professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that construction contractors will experience a 25 percent growth in employment between 2012 and 2022. Also, carpenters will have the best prospects when it comes to job hunting. Workers with skills in multiple areas of construction and labor will benefit from a wealth of opportunities as well.
Throughout 2007 and 2009, the industry saw a decrease in employment due to the recession. As the economy is on an upturn, job growth is accelerating for contractors. National infrastructure maintenance is a big part of the demand, but job opportunities also present themselves as businesses expand and residential areas build new homes.