Knowing how to reference temporary work on a resume can be the difference between success in the job market and career frustration.
Experience of working in temp roles can add value to your employment record, but you need to demonstrate the value such roles have offered.
As a professional looking for a new job, it's important to explain how the positions you've held — whether permanent or temporary — have boosted your skill set and aided your career development. Many professionals enjoy the flexibility and freedom that comes with non-permanent placements, knowing they are not tied to any single employer for the long term.
Others look for temporary, contract or interim jobs as bridge between permanent roles, or as a way to re-enter the workforce after a period of inactivity. Working as a temp is a credible career option; these employees provide a valuable service for organizations across many industries.
1. Avoiding career gaps
Whatever your reasons for working as a temp, it can be to your benefit as a professional. Referencing temporary work on your resume helps avoid gaps in your career history which may prove difficult to explain at interview. Think of it from an employer's perspective. They will be more impressed if you're in the workplace — acquiring skills, gaining experience and showing your versatility — rather than sitting at home waiting for an interview offer. It's all about displaying your enthusiasm for work, willingness to learn and eagerness to get ahead.
Writing a strong temp resume, which references temporary work, can potentially help you secure a new job in the future. This might be a full-time, permanent position or another temporary job, depending on the career choices you make. Either way, you need to prove your capability to prospective employers. This means documenting your temp history accurately and showing the value temp roles have offered. Here’s how to do it without looking like a serial job hopper:
2. Reference your employers
A common mistake professionals make when referencing temp jobs on their resume is writing down the name of the wrong employer. If you are sent on a work placement by a recruitment agency, they are your employer, not the organization you are providing services for.
Client companies pay recruiters to provide them with temporary workers, and recruiters assign staff to placements accordingly. So, when adding a temporary job to your resume, you need to list your recruitment agency as your employer. Always include the start and end dates of your employment with the agency.
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3. Reference your roles
Under the name of your recruitment agency and a short blurb explaining their line of businesses and areas of specialization, you should list the roles you have undertaken. You may have worked in a number of temp or interim jobs for different client organizations, or potentially just a single one.
Name the companies you provided services for and the main duties you were charged with in the course of each placement. Write down your dates of employment on your resume.
4. Highlight your achievements
You want hiring managers to be impressed by your resume, whether you're looking for temporary or permanent jobs. As such, it's important to highlight your key achievements in each role you have undertaken, and explain how the position has assisted your career development.
Think about the skills you have acquired, and experiences you have gained. If you can provide specific examples of achievements to highlight the value you added, then all the better.
5. Get the formatting right
When listing temporary work on your resume, ensure they are included in reverse chronological order. This means your most recent placement should appear first on your resume in your employment history section.
Then work backwards, including all the temporary roles you have worked in while employed by a recruitment agency. Even if you only worked on a particular placement for a few days two years ago, you should still include it.
6. Referencing temporary work? Be a proud temp
Regardless of whether you have actively chosen temp work, or simply opted for agency placements while you look for a permanent role, it is important to be proud of your achievements.
When writing your resume and discussing your career record at the interview, focus on the value of your temp experience. Don't be apologetic for spending a period outside of permanent employment, or try to hide temp roles from your resume.
Remember, for many professionals, temporary working is a genuine lifestyle choice — their own career preference.
Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in more than 300 locations worldwide, including our job agencies in and around Toronto, Robert Half can provide you with assistance where and when you need it.