15 Q&As About Resumes Every Consultant Should Know

15 Questions About Resumes Every Consultant Should Know

As a freelancer, if landing consistent consulting gigs, increasing your income, and building long-term client relationships are priorities for you – your first step should be crafting an unforgettable resume. For consultants looking for work, getting noticed is often half the battle.

In order to stand out, you need to make sure you have a resume that is clear, concise, and up to date.

Don’t Neglect Your Resume

Your resume is still one of the most crucial factors used in the hiring process for recruiters and potential employers. Unfortunately, recruiting agencies are flooded with candidates’ resumes just like yours every day.

The primary job of any resume is simple; to get recruiters or hiring managers to take notice and want to interview the owner. While that may sound easy enough, the reality is freelancers often struggle with writing resumes that genuinely highlight their strengths.

In order to stand out, you need to make sure you have a resume that is clear, concise, and up to date.

As a long-time consultant in learning and development (L&D), I am fully aware of the need to have an impressive, well-built portfolio. However, if your resume ends up in someone’s circular file, no one will ever see your jaw-dropping portfolio sans your mom!

Consultant Resumes Q&A

In a recent webinar, TrainingPros’ Talent Ambassador and Career Coach Nicole Darby shared examples and tips about ways consultants can alleviate resume anxiety and craft eye-popping consulting resumes recruiters can’t ignore.

Consultants attending the webinar had a lot of great questions that deserved answers. Here are 15 of the best that every consultant should know!

To include your photo or not to include your photo... Whether or not to add a personal image is probably one of the most debated topics regarding resumes today.

It has become common for recruiters and hiring managers to Google your name and even check out your social media long before employing you. So then, what is the harm of including a photo if potential employers will see what you look like anyway?

On the other side of the argument, HR professionals generally agree that including personal photos on resumes will only increase the possibility of discrimination and unconscious bias.

According to an eye tracking study by Ladders, recruiters only spend an average of 7.4 seconds scanning a candidate's resume. Therefore, even the most eye-popping resume is granted minimal time to market the skills, experience, and competencies you possess before judgment.

Will your resume be tagged for future review and consideration, or will it be filed and forgotten? Then what is the correct answer?

It all comes down to this: is your physical appearance relevant to the job you want? Are you applying to be a runway model or television anchor?


Then don't give up the valuable real estate on your resume — skip the photo. In addition to space, photos are a distraction that draws the reviewer's eye. That leaves even less of those precious seconds to scan for the experience they are trying to find.

Ultimately, potential employers and recruiters can see your photo on LinkedIn, other social media, or the web. In the end, for most people, including a headshot on their resume would add zero value.

If you choose to include a photo on your resume, avoid candid or low-quality images. Your picture should reflect the professionalism of your resume and align with your brand. It should not distract from your skills and expertise. Think passport-style headshot.

Choosing to use a photo on your resume should not be a decision made lightly. Whether on LinkedIn or your resume, any image of you should scream professional in every way.

You do not want to use blurry photos, photos that look nothing like you do today, or that will distract attention away from the experience and skills you have to offer potential employers.

The short answer is yes, you can. However, the more important question is can you afford not to? In the length of time a hiring manager spends scanning your resume (5 - 7 seconds), does it do enough to hook their interest?

Making sure you include all the skills you want to highlight on one page is essential.

Everything comes down to what skill sets you are bringing to the table right now. What technologies have you mastered, and what results are you able to offer a potential employer right now?

Aside from key relationships or possibly certain brands you worked for, what you did 20 years ago isn't relevant. Focus on the experience you gained throughout your career instead. It is the only thing that matters. After all, it is what helped you craft your superpowers and become who you are today.

That is a great question that comes up all the time. In these situations, going with a functional-style resume that highlights your skills better is one possible solution.

You can then use the Challenge, Action, Result (CAR) method to explain the all-important results you achieved while in the role.

Focusing on the results first before listing detailed work history and associated job titles removes any confusion or distraction up front.

Reference checking is standard practice for agency and corporate recruiters, so it is a good rule of thumb to have at least three recent professional references ready.

When asked, you can quickly forward reference names and contact information. You may also want to include where you worked with the person.

At TrainingPros, we prefer to have at least one managerial reference. This type of reference would be the person you reported to while on a contract assignment. Referrals are a big part of our overall screening process that also includes a discussion with a relationship manager (RM).

Ultimately, the RM is who determines if a consultant is a good fit for their client's needs.

One minute is not the timeframe to review a resume thoroughly, but it is often the time it takes a recruiter to pass on your resume.

Recruiters scan hundreds of resumes for each job opening and cannot afford to carefully consider each resume, only those that immediately seem to be a match. If the necessary skills aren't apparent in a short visual scan, the recruiter will likely move on.

The answer is yes. Resumes are still often printed and passed around, especially before job interviews. Although this practice is becoming rarer due to the ability to send someone a digital copy of your resume quickly.

Job seekers using color on a resume used to be frowned upon. However, those views have changed a lot to the point where splashes of color on a work summary could be an advantage in helping you stand out.

The biggest problem with using color is knowing how to use it in a way that is not distracting or off-putting. Before deciding, understand the pros and cons of adding color to a resume and only do so if there is a real need.

There is a lot of value in a crisp, clean, polished-looking resume.

Working through a recruiting or staffing firm, more than likely, your resume will be ingested into an applicant tracking system (ATS), where accessibility considerations become irrelevant.

If you intend to create a website or an online portfolio where you will also post your resume, it might not be a bad idea to follow web accessibility guidelines as much as possible.

The only situation where it might become necessary would be if the job of interest requires those specific skills and/or is an area of high proficiency you want to highlight.

According to research by URL shortening service, Bitly, there has been a 750% rise in quick response (QR) code downloads since the pandemic began. Yet, that is only one of the factors fueling the rate of QR code adoption.

Here at TrainingPros, we have been increasing our usage of QR codes over the last year because they have proven popular in the places we have employed them.

Based on our results, we believe the future of QR codes is bright, and the technology is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Well, at least until the next thing comes along to replace them...

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are becoming commonplace in the job world.

They utilize optical character recognition (OCR) technology to convert and parse resumes. This allows recruiters and hiring managers to quickly search, score, and review candidate records.

As a candidate, it is up to you to ensure your resume is easily scannable.

Generally, color on a resume does not cause issues, especially with newer systems, but there are certain types of formatting that should be avoided.

The last thing anyone wants is to find out important information in their resume got missed or the resume got rejected entirely.

Absolutely. ATSs parse resumes into a database that allows recruiters to create searches based on...keywords and other criteria like specific job skills.

However, keywords should be naturally included in your job descriptions and other text on your resume. They should not be randomly listed.

Make your own samples! Honor your non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with your past engagements and create short examples that show off specific skills.

You don't need an entire course, just activities or cool stuff that demonstrates your best skills and creativity.

When it comes to hosting your portfolio, many affordable options are available. Each comes with its own pros and cons and necessary levels of skill.

While a great tool, WordPress requires a lot of overhead. To truly build a portfolio right, it more than likely would necessitate finding a plugin purposefully built to handle portfolio-specific tasks like filtering, paging, etc.

The good news is there are a lot of great resources available. Here are some articles that go into a lot more detail about various options the authors have used or tested:

Grammatically speaking, to shorten "electronic learning," the rules state a hyphen is required. In fact, Microsoft and LinkedIn both follow suit and use the hyphenated version, E-Learning.

Therefore, it seems E-Learning is the winner...for now.

Although historically, over time, hyphenated words in the English language magically lose their hyphenated version in favor of their non-hyphenated alternative. See e-mail versus the now more accepted form, email, or what about web-site versus the now more accepted variation, website.

So if you are one of those people who prefer the non-hyphenated version, eLearning, just wait for it; it will probably be the norm before you know it.

Disclaimer: None of the answers above should be accepted as definitive business or legal advice. These answers are the opinions of the author based on nearly 30 years of consulting experience and research. Carefully consider all sides and share your thoughts with us!

For the complete story, join us live! Don’t miss any of the fantastic speakers we have lined up for our upcoming webinars and events.

Do you have other questions about creating consulting-specific resumes that you want to get answered? Send them to us, and we will do our best to answer them for you in a future post!

Patrick Owens

Patrick Owens

Patrick Owens has over 30 years of experience in the adult learning and technical communication space. His favorite day of the week is Tuesday and has deemed it a special time for tacos. Always looking for adventure Patrick uses his downtime to explore and create. In addition to being the father of 6-year-old twin boys, he is currently the Digital Solutions Director for TrainingPros.
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Patrick Owens has over 30 years of experience in the adult learning and technical communication space. His favorite day of the week is Tuesday and has deemed it a special time for tacos. Always looking for adventure Patrick uses his downtime to explore and create. In addition to being the father of 6-year-old twin boys, he is currently the Digital Solutions Director for TrainingPros.

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