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Contractors: Do You Need a Resume?

Contractors: Do You Need a Resume?
Whether you call yourself an independent contractor, consultant or entrepreneur, you may wonder if you need a resume to promote your services.        

As a free agent, there are different pieces you could use to market yourself, so before you get started, determine what you want your piece to accomplish. Here's a look at the most popular options.

Traditional Resume

A traditional resume provides an account of your employment history, key qualifications, education or training, and other important credentials. The most common formats are reverse chronological, functional and combination.

A variation on the traditional resume format is the business resume, which details your company’s achievements, rather than your personal career progression. A business resume is normally presented on company letterhead and might include a client list, significant projects, the owner’s qualifications, services offered, target market and professional activities.

Another format is a narrative bio, which is a resume in narrative format that emphasizes your career achievements and professional background. Contractors can use this format to market themselves on a Web site, give to clients to promote their services or even secure funding for a business venture.

Who Needs It? Free agents transitioning to employee status or looking for a long-term consulting assignment should create a traditional resume. A free agent seeking capital funding will require a traditional resume -- usually a narrative bio -- to include with the business plan. Other free agents would benefit from having an updated traditional resume on hand in case a potential client or employer requests it.


A portfolio lets you dazzle a potential client with your capabilities and achievements by providing examples of your work. A portfolio may exist in hard copy or digital (Web/CD-ROM) format. If you are setting up a portfolio, get a copy of Guide to Portfolios: Creating and Using Portfolios for Academic, Career, and Personal Success. A portfolio’s contents depend on your industry but may include examples of your work, references, testimonials, a publication list, media clips, awards and other evidence of your professional accomplishments. If you’re in a creative field, consider setting up an online portfolio of your work.

Who Needs It? Free agents searching for a powerful way to demonstrate skills, capabilities, past results and potential value.

Corporate Marketing Collateral

As an independent businessperson, you may not need a resume at all, but corporate marketing materials instead, such as brochures, business cards, letterhead, Web sites and demos.

If you run a company, invest in quality corporate marketing materials. If you are not confident in your desktop publishing abilities, hire a design firm that understands your business goals and target market.

Who Needs It? An independent businessperson looking to level the playing field against larger firms.

Resume Business Card

A resume business card is a standard or tent/fold-over business card that includes a brief description of your products, services or qualifications.

Who Needs It? Free agents who network frequently and want to present a brief overview of the value they offer on a business card.

Best Practices for Contractor Resumes

Once you decide on the best format(s) for your needs, follow these guidelines:
  • Refrain from using information that would violate contract confidentiality or reveal proprietary client information.
  • Present the experiences most relevant to your goal.
  • Remember that even a traditional resume should be a persuasive marketing document, not an autobiography.
  • If you are pursuing a specific opportunity, find out which resume style or marketing piece is preferred by the organization.
  • Focus on achievements and skills that demonstrate what you offer potential customers.

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