Our Experts | Glynn Urban
Candidates may hesitate to put temporary work on a resume, and for good reason. First of all, it can be off-putting to some hiring managers. Second, you have to know how to write your resume just perfectly in a way that will help your consideration rather than hurt it. Once you know how to smartly detail temp work on your resume, you’ll definitely want to include it.
As the brand leader for Alliance Office Solutions, I’ve helped hundreds of candidates through the same decision. I remember helping a woman who loved sourcing, editing job boards and screening candidates. She was offered a permanent position that would be doing those things she loved half the time, and the other half would be spent doing payroll. Somehow, she ended up doing 90 percent payroll work, which she wasn’t trained for, so she quickly began questioning her choice to take the job.
I then came across a temporary position with no promises for permanent hire, but it perfectly fit her interests. It was a growing pharmaceutical company with a position in sourcing and screening candidates. I told her about the opportunity and she was very excited – but she would have to leave her permanent position to take a temporary job of probably 90 days. She decided to do it.
I spoke with the company on behalf of the woman, knowing she was a reliable worker with a lot of experience and talent. I facilitated a meeting between the candidate and hiring manager, and the two instantly hit it off. Ultimately, she took the position after deciding that whether she was kept permanently or not, she’d be doing what she loved. If nothing else, it would be a stepping stone to where she really wanted to end up.
The moral of the story here is that she took a job she was passionate about and would get great experience at, and used it to her advantage. This is how to present temporary work on your resume – as a stepping stone to the work you really want to do in the end. Emphasize the experience you gained and how it can translate into the job you are applying for.
When listing temporary work, you should also avoid listing multiple short-term jobs, and instead list one overall experience. For instance, if a temp worker has worked with Alliance Office Solutions for two years in positions at three different companies, the worker will want to only list two years at Alliance, and not list the companies they filled in at.
Also, explain in your resume the reason for short-term work, or even in your cover letter. This will answer any questions a hiring manager may have about short-term work right away. You can also take advantage of your short-term work and highlight how it gave you more breadth of experience. Write it very simply so it’s easy to understand, and again, stress that this work was a stepping stone for you.
Lastly, while a hiring manager may be put-off by past temporary work, the best thing you can do is have someone champion for you. A recruiter who has chosen to work with you should believe that you are a good worker, and reach out to a hiring manager to say so. If a recruiter has done their job, the company will have a good worker, whether they are temps or not.