They'll try you before they'll buy you

The Holy Grail, of course, is a full time job at a reasonable wage with benefits, but people shouldn't turn up their noses at contract work in the interim -- especially in the field of information technology. The advice comes from Robert Half Technology, so I'm taking it with a grain of salt, since Robert Half is a company that provides technology employees to companies on a project or full time basis.

Even so, they interviewed 1,400 chief information officers and 73 percent said they found very or somewhat valuable to see project experience on a resume. Robert Half Technology suggests revising your resume to show the contract situations. At the top of the resume, highlight your areas of IT expertise, your current skills and your quantifiable results with past employers. Then move into an abbreviated work history, keeping the whole thing under two pages, they say.

In the interview, emphasize short-term results. Employers want you to be able to ramp up quickly and they want results quickly. Also, in many cases, they want to try you before they buy you. In the interview, be able to describe how your expertise meets their particular challenge.

Naturally, Robert Half suggests going through a specialized staffing firm, saying that such firms have access to unadvertised consulting positions. One thing a contracting job does (besides paying bills) is whittle away at gaps in your resume while keeping skills sharp.