Keeping abreast of the latest IT consultant issues is a daily struggle, but the staff here at TechRepublic keeps you up to date with information and advice on management and technology. Our mission is simple: publish what you need, when you need it. If you haven’t had time to visit the site every day, here’s your chance to see what you may have missed in May.

Below, we’ve listed the top five articles published last month in the IT Consultant Republic. We’ve also included a few related articles to put our best content at your fingertips.

1. Stay in the game, but know the score
The sluggish economy has increased competition for contracts and jobs. Questions about the highly valued skills and the chances for better prospects are more important than ever. TechRepublic career writer Tim Heard helps one reader who is thinking about leaving IT altogether.

In replying to another job search question, our career columnist suggests that even consultants in the hot field of disaster recovery should thoroughly assess their skills before trying to move to a new job. One tip is to find ways to make their resume distinctive.

2. Tweak UI can help you get the most from XP
Need to streamline your desktop? Consider using Tweak UI to quickly modify the look and feel of Windows XP. Included with the XP operating system, this Microsoft product allows you to change the display and settings of Internet Explorer, common dialog boxes, and the Taskbar.

To get a more in-depth technical review of XP,  find out what changes Microsoft made to the kernel with this release. This article covers enhancements to the registry, the I/O subsystem, memory management, and boot-up times.

3. What is the value in achieving PMP certification?
Get the Project Management Mentor’s opinion on whether or not the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification can improve consultants’ project management skills and job prospects. Tom Mochal covers these and other questions in this column.

If you’re looking for other ways to improve your project management skills, check out these five tips.

4. Using Microsoft Access to cut costs
One of the best tools for trimming costs could be right under your nose. See how one TechRepublic member used Microsoft Access to automate key tasks on several projects to cut his client’s costs.

For more money-saving advice, use these tips from an IT manager about reducing the cost of owning equipment, from acquiring it to maintaining it to retiring it.

5. How do you leave a nightmare client?
Breaking away from a difficult client presents one of the tougher aspects of consulting work. In this article, two consultants describe their experiences with problematic customers. Discover how to weed out troublesome clients before you sign a contract. If it’s too late and you’re already caught in a bad relationship, learn how to bow out gracefully.

In this follow-up article, a TechRepublic member offers a three-step strategy for dealing with nightmare clients.