Having a Broad Resume Is Bad News for Finding a Contract Position

January 14, 2007

Currently I am working on finding a contract position to pay the bills while I work on my own technology. What makes this so maddingly difficult is that my resume is filled with all sorts of java related technologies, but I've never done the same project twice.

It seems people like to hire the same exact same person (ie 5 years JSP, Struts, Tiles, pick an appserver, EJB = JSTAE) and have little interest in anything else. I've either worked for consulting firms (you do what the customer whats) or service firms (I always wound up with the difficult, oddball projects no one else wanted). Thus I wind up building web frameworks, becoming a documentum architect on the fly, introducing ajax, designing portal architectures, fuzzy search engines, etc. But I've never built a stupid JSP/EJB/Struts application so apparently I am diffcult to hire. I guess it's my fault for not doing the obvious things.

I have worked with people who match the JSTAE definition who are only able to work with constant assistance (what is a Hashmap again? why can't I save session in a stateless session bean?) yet have the perfect resume.

Being someone equally as comfortable with designing database schemas and doing front end design (html,css,javascript) and all the stuff in between should make it easy to find a position but generally people don't believe you, your resume or your professional references (no one ever calls them anyway).

I agree that for a contractor, an employer generally want someone with a single set of skills who can "hit the ground running". Yet I've never gotten any job (contract or otherwise) where that actually happened, or where the requested experiences jived with the job once you arrived. Few places are that organized.

In my last two employee jobs, they interviewed upwards of 30 people to either hire me in the first place or replace me, so I guess the paucity of decent candidates means most employers assume resumes are complete fabrications and expect to hire someone lame. So I can see that my resume gets painted by the negative brush and that makes it even harder to stand out. So if my resume was 5 years of one JSTAE project, that would apparently be exciting!

So I will continue looking for someone local (D/FW area) or a telecommute/ occasional travel contract where broad experience is actual a benefit.

Back to work.