How does a contractor make his resume appealing to a hiring manager?

A reader of Land The Tech Job You Love wrote to ask:

I have been searching for this type of book for years now. One question, as I’m only on page 75: How does a contractor make his resume appealing to a hiring manager?

I do NOT want to contract, but in DC, it seems to be the only way to either get a job or get a foot-hold into a long-term opportunity. But I hear from so many hiring types that they hate “job hoppers”. But I’m not. I want and crave a long-term full-time position.

How do I address that?

Exactly how you just did it.

Put it in your cover letter. “I’ve been a contractor out of necessity
for the last two years, but I want a long-term full-time position
where I can set down some roots with the company. I think that
WangoTech can benefit in the long-term from my skills as a …”

You can also try to turn this potential negative into a positive.
“I’ve worked on a wide variety of database systems, including Oracle,
PostgreSQL and DB2, for companies from a 10-person accounting firm
to a Fortune 100 textile manufacturer.” You’ll show the breadth
of knowledge you bring to the position.

If you’re concerned about the resume not being seen along with the
cover letter, I’d suggest adding a final bullet point to the
professional summary at the top of the resume, such as:

* Experienced contractor looking to start a long-term full-time position in DC area

In some ways, it’s the dreaded Objective, which should never appear in your resume
but I think that if you
put it as the last bullet in the summary, you’ll put the reader’s
mind at ease, before she gets to the work history that shows you’re
a contractor.

I saw a comedian once explain that if there’s anything out of the
ordinary with you (very tall or short, a speech impediment, etc),
you call attention to it at the beginning of your routine. If you
don’t, your audience will fixate on that aspect of you and not
listen to what you’re saying. Just do half a minute to acknowledge
the attention-grabber, and move on. That’s the approach I suggest
you take in this case.

Sometimes when we write resumes, we’re so concerned with short
sentences and bullets, we forget about the power of a cover letter.
In this case, the cover letter shows that you’re interested in that
specific company, because your cover letter discusses the very
specific relationship with the company you’d like to have, and heads
off a potential problem. That shows foresight and it shows that
you’re thinking like the hiring manager.

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