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Friday, April 9, 2010

how to list temp work on a resume

A reader writes:

Do you have any thoughts on how to list temporary work on a resume? I've been reading Ask a Manager for about a year now, and I can't even tell you how much it's helped me in my transition from college student/intern to professional. I always really appreciate that your thoughtful, honest advice, so I'd really like to know what you think.

I graduated in spring 2009, but have yet to find a permanent job in my chosen field. I'm still looking, but I've also been working through a temp agency to fill the gap. My question is: How do you, as a manager, like to see temporary work listed on a resume? Is there any way I can use it to my advantage?

I'm concerned that 1) it reflects badly on me that I have yet to find permanent employment 2) I don't want to crowd out my more relevant internship experience by listing a number of less relevant, although more recent, temp jobs.

I know you're really busy, so I understand if you don't have time to reply. However, I just want to say again how much I appreciate your blog. It should be required reading for every young professional!

It should, shouldn't it?

There are a couple of different ways to list temp work on a resume, which I'll get to in a minute. But first let me address your concern that it reflects poorly on you that you haven't found permanent employment yet: It does not. The job market has been horrible for a while now. Recent grads, in particular, are having a tremendously tough time. For most of them, it's not their fault. As I've written before, for a lot of people right now, it's not about them; it's about math. Any hiring manager who doesn't recognize that is an ass.

Okay, so back to how to list temp work. It depends on how long-term your assignments are. If you've had some relatively long-term assignments (more than a couple of weeks in one place), I'd list it like this:
Acme Architecture (via Temps Inc.) -- August - October 2009
If your assignments have been more short-term, then I'd list the temp company itself as the employer, followed by a list of bullet points of the types of responsibilities you've had at various companies through them. Like with anything on your resume, make sure you really sell what you've been doing during that time.

Good luck!


LaurenL said...

Great response. As a recruiter, I'd like to add that I would MUCH rather see a year or more of temp work on your resume, or even a year or more of volunteer work on your resume, than to see nothing. It shows me that you have taken the initiative to DO something besides just looking for permanent work, you are taking responsibility to earn money and/or gain some kind of experience (even if it's not related to your chosen field) and that you are humble enough to do what you need to do until you have the opportunity to get where you want to get!!

Kristin said...

What about if you temped in a position for a few months, and then were hired on for that same position (with the same responsibilities)? I had that happen with my current job. I'm about to move on to something else, and I'm wondering how to put it on my resume so my start date doesn't seem sketchy when they check references for new jobs.

Ask a Manager said...

Kristin, if you were hired on for the same position you were temping in, with no break in between, I think it's reasonable to simply list the company you were doing the work for (rather than the temp company) for the whole period.

If you really wanted to be a stickler, you could list it this way:

Acme Architecture- Aug. 2008 - present
(first 2 months through Temps Inc.)

Jenny said...

Kristin, you can also list it as a promotion. Promoted from temporary to full-time employee after two months.