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Ten resume and cover letter tips every freelance and contract worker must read

About that cover letter you worked so hard to perfect? No one is going to read it. Well, some might, but not many will, says Sandy Dischinger, Managing Director of VALERE Consulting and Recruiting, a Minnesota company with experienced consultants delivering creative and information technology services to clients in retail, healthcare, finance, advertising and e-commerce industries.

"Cover letters are typically not reviewed by hiring managers," says Dischinger.

In place of a cover letter, Dischinger suggests writing a “professional summary” and placing it at the top of your resume, instead of an objective.

"The summary should highlight your skills and qualifications specific to the position for which you are applying," says Dischinger.

This could result in many different versions of your resume. If you are at a senior level and have significant experience a 2-3 page resume is okay as long as the information is relevant.

Below is a suggested resume layout, says Dischinger:

  • Professional Summary (highlight relevant skills for position to which you are applying), 8-10 sentences.
  • Technical Skills/Qualifications (recommended for IT industry jobs)
  • Employment History (highlight relevant responsibilities that are required for position to which you are applying).
  • Organize your freelance experience as “Independent Contracting” and list it like a job. For example, if you have been working on your own for 10 years List the name of your company and the duration (Jan 2010-Present)
  • Some hiring managers may view independent or freelance experience as “job jumping” and may become hesitant to hire you.
  • Education/Certifications/Awards

The question has been brought up to Dischinger. What's with freelance, contract and consultants seeking full-time permanent jobs. Do employers want to hire contract workers? In many cases the best way to get hired full-time is through the company you are currently contracting with. They know your skills and you personally, so shine through to get hired.

"Many of our customers hire contract workers as permanent employees," says Dischinger. "Demonstrating rapport with the team and making great contributions can often lead to a company bringing on a contractor permanently."

Here are 10 additional tips for freelance, contract and consulting workers getting their resume in front of a decision maker:

  • List your projects as clients and include duration for each project with month/year of start and finish.
  • Work with a recruiter from a reputable local staffing agency. Many times the recruiter will have additional information that will help you highlight appropriate relevant skills. They will also have a direct path to a hiring manager, which will improve your chances of getting an interview.
  • Many companies bring on new employees on a contract to hire basis through staffing companies, so do your due diligence and get to know the company representing you.
  • Tailor your employment responsibilities and professional summary to each position for which you are applying. Use keywords and be repetitive with that information.
  • Understand your audience will initially glance over your resume looking for keywords or something to draw them in to read more.
  • Research the company you are applying to, especially if you are not familiar with them. Understand their business and how your set of skills could benefit their organization.

If you are a freelancer, contractor or consultant seeking full-time work and not getting interviews, consider updating your resume with a professional resume writer.

“Think of your resume as a marketing tool for yourself, the product you are selling is you,” says Dischinger. “Taking these items into consideration should get you that interview and job you want.”