4 Best Resume Tips for Contractors

Best practices for independent contractor resumes with examples

Independent contractors in the engineering and life science industries have highly specialized skill sets that make them both sought-after and difficult to find. For this reason, rather than putting up job listings for resume submissions, companies often trust Black Diamond to match strong candidates to their open positions instead.

Let’s take a look at how you can improve your resume as an independent contractor so Black Diamond can better help you line up your next project and maintain a steady flow of work.

1. Use job description keywords in your contractor resume

Many contractors don’t realize that adjusting or editing your resume for a specialized project gives you a much better shot at landing the work. If you are applying for a specialized project, you need to match the exact keywords that are reflected in the job description.

General comments about your background will give the hiring manager a harder time deciding if your skills are right for the role. Hiring managers have limited time to review resumes, so if they don’t quickly see what they want, they will move on to the next one.

Instead, use the job description to your advantage so you can show hiring managers that your qualifications are exactly what they are looking for.

2. Get specific about your contractor work history

Be as specific as possible throughout your whole resume. For example, do not just write “Consultant from 2012 – Present” with a broad summary and no precise client or job details. Do not assume the hiring manager will understand what you have done or where you have done it.

Include client names, technology used, job duties, and other specific information so the manager has a clear idea of the product areas and industries you were involved in. Describe job details for each position, even if it seems redundant or you did something similar in other positions. If there are any glaring gaps in dates, it may be helpful to provide relevant explanations.

This is an especially important resume tip for inexperienced contractors with less than 5 years of experience. Showcase specific skills that you are pursuing, have perfected, or already mastered. Focus on emphasizing those few core skills. This will help show that you are a qualified and hardworking candidate, not a “jack of all trades, master of none”.

3. List your contract work in chronological order

Start with your most recent project, then list out the rest of your projects chronologically. The most recent 5 years of projects should have the most detail, but include some information about older assignments and experiences, even if they were permanent positions.

For contract roles, the manager will only look at the last 5 years. However, including a few bullets describing older experience will help showcase the full picture of your background or ability to fit the seniority of the project.

This can be particularly helpful if you have 30 or more years of work experience. Showcasing recent jobs and their details will demonstrate that your knowledge and skills are up to date.

4. Include a resume section highlighting relevant skills

A detailed, keyword-rich, chronologically-organized resume with the appropriate job details, industry standard terms and abbreviations, education and trainings, and other important information is likely to be pretty long. This is a good thing!

To make sure the hiring manager gets to see the most important details, even with a lengthy resume, include a highlight summary to showcase relevant skills. This is another great place to use keywords from the job description and emphasize skills needed for the project.

Contractor resume tips in action

Here is an outline of what your independent contractor resume should look like once you’ve incorporated these four tips:


Contact Information

Relevant Skills: emphasize skills needed for the project, no need to include general skills

Job Experience (in chronological order from most recent to least recent):

Company/Location          Start Date – End Date (be specific)

Job Title (identify if contract or perm)

    • Include keywords and skills/job responsibilities that are reflected in the job description
    • Include technologies and products
    • Older job experience does not need as much detail as the most recent 5 years of experience, but make sure to include title, client location, and dates

Certification/Training or Awards: list all relevant items

Education: list all relevant education

Ready to do it yourself? Follow the instructions and prompts in our contractor resume template to create your own updated, keyword-rich resume.  Download Contractor Resume Template

Need more help updating your resume with these tips? Get in touch with your experts at Black Diamond! Contact Black Diamond

If you need technical staffing support, contact your BDN account executive or call our toll free number, 800-681-4734. You can also email us at [email protected]

If you are a consultant looking to apply your skills, take a look at our current job openings at www.blackdiamondnet.com/jobs. You can also submit your resume at www.blackdiamondnet.com/submit-resume