Resume rewrite - place self employment and freelance work above other IT jobs?

CardboardCardboard Member Posts: 43 ■■□□□□□□□□
The new year is almost here, and I continue my search for a good IT job.

I was just thinking of recent interviews. I've had 6 face to face interviews in the past 2 months, for desktop support and similar types of work, which I have much experience in. Good experience in short term contract jobs that went well. Didn't get 4, haven't heard back on 1 yet, and the last one I wouldn't want even if they did hire me. Then there have been a couple telephone interviews, again for good jobs I was capable of, and I didn't get those either. Ironically, the last 2 IT contracts I did get were "sight unseen". A temp agency called me, submitted my information, and told me when to start, where to go, and who to ask for. No phone or in person interview. Perhaps I do not interview well.

Then I was looking up resume tips online, and was reading through my IT resume. I have a string of multi-month contract assignments, and the last thing on my resume, on the third page, is my own self employed IT work. For over 10 years. Largely residential support.

Since summer time, I have also been doing freelance jobs from websites that do that, and have been places and did things that none of my other past work ever had. So it has been helpful for learning.

I was thinking of moving my self-employed work to the top spot on my resume, right after contact into, summary, and certs. Then a section for things I have done in freelance jobs. Condense each job into one sentence, being sure to get buzzwords & names of systems or programs in there. Then my list of contract IT assignments after that.

I've read for a long time that HR people devote mere seconds to reading resumes, and being that mine is 3 pages, maybe having my one long term "job" at the very end is a mistake.

To call my self employed work a "job" is kind of stretching the truth. I do good work in it, but it is just me and some local advertising, I answer to no one, except my customers, who are happy. It is part time at best. I don't get enough work from it to live on it alone. Need a 40 hour job also.

And I wonder how well a freelance section would help, as it'd require explanation at every interview, but maybe that is better than constantly being asked why I have a long string of short jobs. With the proper editing, I think it could help.

I am not trying to get jobs that I know I can't handle, but this year has seen me not get many jobs that I was very qualified for, which has raised my cynicism and pessimism to previously unseen levels.

Comments

  • yparkypark Senior Member Member Posts: 107 ■■■□□□□□□□
    The fact that you are being called in for interviews point to your interviewing skills as the bottleneck, unless you've applied to dozens of jobs in the past few months. I would concentrate on preparing for the interview questions and dressing appropriately.

    Since you are looking for desktop support roles I assume you are looking for an entry level position. Why is your resume 3 pages? I would work on getting that down to one. Hiring managers may not flip through pages for an entry level position.

    I've never been in an hiring role but I would assume professional employment is more valued than freelance/side jobs, so I would list that towards the bottom. Getting the resume down to one page would prevent freelance experience from being lost as well. Also, if you've worked a lot of contract jobs and have short gaps between them, it may be a good idea to make it clear that they were contract positions.

    You sound like you know what you are doing but if you need resume help, TE is a good place to post a sanitized version of your resume for critiques. I'm sure you'll be able to land a suitable position soon. Good luck.
    2018 Goals: [CCNA Security] [WGU BSITSEC]
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,279 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Agree with ypark. The freelance home repair stuff isn't nearly as highly valued by most companies as your regular employment. I'd put it at the bottom and be VERY clear that your other jobs are all contracts so it doesn't look like a job hopper resume. If you've picked up a different skill set through the other freelance work then you can include a skills section that highlights that vs pushing your regular jobs way down the page making it look like you've only done home freelance work at a quick glance.
  • CardboardCardboard Member Posts: 43 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I just spent some time on Google, searching for interview tips. There's lots of those. 10 things to not do in interviews / 7 ways to get the interview right / 9 ways to interview, etc.

    Nothing is really jumping out at me as something I am doing wrong in interviews. I'm always on time. I turn off the ringer on my phone. I'm always freshly showered within 3 hours of the interview or less. I dress in khakis and a button / collar dress shirt. I don't wear ties, I perceive that as being too much of a kiss-ass. No one wears ties in any IT job I was ever in. Nearly all of my interviews have been 30 minutes to an hour. I maintain eye contact, I don't slouch in the chair, I listen to what they say and ask questions based on that. When the time comes where they ask if I have questions for them, I come up with things like "what are the most common daily problems we deal with", and other things that show some degree of technical aptitude. I always make it a point in the interview to mention that I am flexible on hours, I can work off shifts, weekends, or overtime if a job requires it. I never ask about money unless they bring it up first, which is not common.

    As for my long string of contract jobs, I might tend to rant on that a bit. If the interviewer asks if I am looking for another contract job, I say something like "I was never looking for a contract job, but in the course of searching for regular jobs, these were available for me, so I took them, better to have some job for a while than no job". Plus, I mention that working in different places has given me a good variety of experience that one person working in one place for 5 years won't have.

    I try to avoid having an air of superiority about me when interviewing for desktop support positions. Not to sound elitist, but as a CCNA I feel that desktop support is for entry level people and I shouldn't be doing it anymore. And I think that they are thinking "Why is a CCNA applying for desktop support? Can't he get anything better?". I did it for years and was good at it, but it doesn't pay that well and it can be boring. I like to stay active at work, it makes the day go faster. I guess that's like saying 6th graders shouldn't be playing with 2nd graders anymore, they are too different to be around each other. Having said that, I still try to do my best work in any job I am in, be it full time or contract. I am trying for jobs that have at least some data center / junior network parts to them.

    I almost always think the interview went well and we understand each other, but, interviews almost always end with the interviewer saying something along the lines of "Well, we have a few more people to interview yet, we will let you know in a few days". I don't like that. One of these days, I am going to snap and say something like "Why waste your time? You've just interviewed the best person for this job".

    One thing about me is that it takes a bit of time to get to know me. I don't care how good the interviewer thinks he is, he will not have an accurate picture of me in day to day life from one 30 minute meeting. It is simply not possible in my case. My own mannerisms, how I say things, my sense of humor, etc. It just takes time to get to know me. I can be nice and polite around people for short bursts of time when the situation requires it, but then I just have to get away. I cannot walk around being Mr. Happy for 8 straight hours. I'm not mean or a jerk either, but dealing with end users requires a level of tact and niceness that I have to save up and use in short bursts.

    If nothing else, maybe getting a freelance job section (at businesses, not for home users) would be a way to get a few more technical words on the resume, to defeat the automated word filters. NetApp, router, fiber, test, data, and so forth. I'll experiment a bit and see how it looks.
  • powerfoolpowerfool CISSP, MCSE Member Posts: 1,637 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Maybe you need to reach out to a place that interviews you and see what they think... it is hard for us to know what you are doing in an interview, especially if you don't know... since you're the one telling us about things.

    Hmm. Maybe this is a business opportunity.
    AZ-300 [x] AZ-301 [x]
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  • TechGromitTechGromit A+, N+, GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 1,977 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Cardboard wrote: »
    I try to avoid having an air of superiority about me when interviewing for desktop support positions. Not to sound elitist, but as a CCNA I feel that desktop support is for entry level people and I shouldn't be doing it anymore. And I think that they are thinking "Why is a CCNA applying for desktop support? Can't he get anything better?"

    Unfortunately passing a certification doesn't guarantee you a networking position, it certainly helps, but without experience, the chances of landing a network related position isn't good.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • CardboardCardboard Member Posts: 43 ■■□□□□□□□□
    powerfool wrote: »
    Maybe you need to reach out to a place that interviews you and see what they think... it is hard for us to know what you are doing in an interview, especially if you don't know... since you're the one telling us about things.

    I'm very unlikely to get a truthful answer like this. Temp agencies, when pushed for answers, always give some trite, plain, generic response. And since it is second hand information from the recruiter, who knows what was really said. Just as likely, the temp agency person made it up.

    One thing that is not going to help is if these potential employers are google searching me. There's nothing bad there, but some unusual things. I ran my own google searches on me, found a couple ancient history things that sounded worse than they were, but was able to get in touch with the website posting it and get it removed, so it no longer comes up in searches.

    I ought to get a "burner" cell phone and some app that changes my voice a bit, and be my own employment reference. I have an old iPhone 4 I could reactivate and use for that....
  • cowillcowill Member Posts: 93 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Cardboard, you are hilarious LOL...You remind me of me in a lotta ways.....

    I spoke to you in another thread in regards to freelancing. Man i used to have that same problem in regards to getting hired, which is one of the reasons I decided to freelance. However, one thing I've done that made my resume more solid while I freelance is I kept a part time I.T. role. I would keep my part time at the top of my resume and right under that I would put my freelancing stuff. I'm not sure if you want to go that route, but I don't have any issues getting calls and I can explain my situation once I get in the interview.

    If you do chose to go that route, get something where they need you to work like once twice a week, that way they are not taking too much of your time but you can still use their name as a resume placeholder.

    If you don't want to do the part time thing, use a commerical company that you've done work for and bundle all that in and next to the role on the resume place "Independant Contractor" in parenthesis.


    Another thing is, I used to think "[email protected](K all that suit and tie ish", but its not kiss ass man.....I went about a good two years of interviewing without wearing suits. Nothing. Then i got in a habit of wearing suits, and some of those problems stop. Suits are a sign of authority, it makes people take you serious.
  • dave330idave330i Member Posts: 2,091 ■■■■■■■■■■
    You're looking for an entry level position and your resume is 3 pages?
    2018 Certification Goals: Maybe VMware Sales Cert
    "Simplify, then add lightness" -Colin Chapman
  • CardboardCardboard Member Posts: 43 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Entry level position + 3 pages = ? I don't see the correlation.

    I certainly don't want to do desktop support, I'm past that level now. But better jobs haven't been forthcoming, and a lower end support paycheck is still better than no paycheck. I'm not happy about it.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,279 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Cardboard wrote: »
    Entry level position + 3 pages = ? I don't see the correlation.

    I certainly don't want to do desktop support, I'm past that level now. But better jobs haven't been forthcoming, and a lower end support paycheck is still better than no paycheck. I'm not happy about it.

    They are saying it's too long. If you have enough real experience to fill 3 pages, then you shouldn't be looking for an entry level job. Maybe if you can group all your contract jobs into one larger group somehow so that it isn't page after page of a few months each? Not really sure the best way to lay that out but that's just entire too long for entry level.

    One thing that stuck out
    One thing about me is that it takes a bit of time to get to know me. I don't care how good the interviewer thinks he is, he will not have an accurate picture of me in day to day life from one 30 minute meeting. It is simply not possible in my case. My own mannerisms, how I say things, my sense of humor, etc. It just takes time to get to know me. I can be nice and polite around people for short bursts of time when the situation requires it, but then I just have to get away. I cannot walk around being Mr. Happy for 8 straight hours. I'm not mean or a jerk either, but dealing with end users requires a level of tact and niceness that I have to save up and use in short bursts.

    No one can really know someone in a 30 minute interview, but if you find that people can't really "get you" in 30 minutes you might want to look deeper into that. It might be contributing to the lack of job offers.

    Also, you keep mentioning higher level jobs, but have you done any higher level work yet? I don't mean that in an insulting way, but just curious. Someone here frequently references the idea of "10 years experience" vs "1 year of experience 10 times". Meaning have you learned new things at each new contract that can apply to a higher level position, or are you filling the same support position every time on each contract? If you find you're just doing the same things, the CCNA helps, but it surely doesn't put you "past that level now" of desktop support.

    Even if you keep doing the same type of contracts, do you have a home lab? Is there anything else you can put on your resume or talk about that makes you more appealing for a higher level position? Normally I'd say try to volunteer for some new projects and such at work but with the shorter term contracts make it difficult, more of just get in and do your job and get out.
  • CardboardCardboard Member Posts: 43 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Well, DanielM, I think you have some good ideas there. I read your post, and then I read my current IT resume, and the actual work section is essentially almost 2 full pages of repeating the same job description over and over. Yes, there are differences from job to job, different software, email systems, changes in responsibilities, etc, but not enough change that some jobs can't be called desktop support. And it is far closer to "1 year of experience 10 times", than "10 years of experience". Even if I haven't had any actual jobs that were assigned as being above desktop support level, I can at least be SENIOR desktop support! :)

    Now that I think about it, making one larger general resume entry for desktop support contract assignments could go a long way towards hiding how short each assignment has been, and gaps of unemployment. I've already been stretching the employment dates to ridiculous levels. If a job begins on January 31 and ends on March 1, that is a 3 month assignment. January, February, March. No need to get into the annoying facts of it being 1 month and 2 days if it can sound like 3 months!

    Then I can add a freelance job section and add experience in that, that desktop support jobs haven't given me.

    I'll make a resume copy like this and see how it looks. I can probably finish it at 1-1/2 pages, I don't think it'll squish to a single page.

    I do have my own Cisco home lab, but haven't used it much in the past few months since finishing my CCNA studies. Now I find myself struggling to remember how to do things without having the video courses running to guide me. I know the commands, but I forget some details and sequences. I don't like that.
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