Recently, the Harvard Business Review published some interesting statistics on jobs of the future. They focused on the category of “contingent workers,” those who are independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers. By pulling together research from several sources, they found that the average company currently hires nearly 35% of its staff as contingent workers; the category is growing; and it currently involves about 6.4 million Americans. About a third of those contingent workers are earning $75,000 or more per year.
This information has two important effects on job seekers and resumes:
1. During gaps in full-time employment, a decision to take a contingent (contract, freelance, or consulting) job actually makes you more employable, not less. Companies want the flexibility of adding and removing staff as needed; and they are willing to pay a premium for the temporary use of difficult-to-find skills. When looking for a full-time employee, they appreciate that skills are kept current and sharp in a contingent position. Therefore, your resume will be stronger for your efforts to take on contingent work while you look for a full-time job.
2. If you decide you like the independence and work/life balance that accompanies contingent work, then you need to be prepared to sell yourself over and over again as a contingent employee. That means you need a strong resume and online presence (as in your LinkedIn profile) that particularly highlights your unique value to companies as a contingent worker.
Whether you are working as a contingent employee to fill a gap in full-time employment or as a long-term choice, your resume should make it clear that you are not job hopping. There are several ways of doing this. For example, all your freelance positions can be grouped under one heading (the name of your freelance company or a title like “Consulting Engagements”). Or, with a shorter list of jobs, it might make sense to list your position at each company as, for example, “Software Engineer Consultant.”
In addition, the resume need not list every previous contract, consultant, or freelance job you undertake. Instead, it should focus on the situations that most closely match the position that you are applying for. A partial listing can be identified as “Significant Engagements” or a similar phrase.