If your job history includes temporary or short-term work, it can be difficult to know how to list it. This could include contract positions, temp work (directly or through an agency), freelancing, consulting, or any other kind of work that was intentionally short-term.
Listing these jobs like you would any other position risks the appearance of job-hopping. On the other hand, leaving them off your resume is likely to leave large gaps in your job history. Either one is a major red flag to employers — so how do you avoid it? In this article, we'll dive into exactly what contract jobs you should include or leave off your resume, as well as how to include them to ensure they appear favorably to a recruiter.
Use Temporary Work to Your Advantage
Temporary jobs belong on your resume. Listed correctly, these jobs can strengthen your work history and demonstrate valuable skills. The trick is to make them work for you, not against you.
Focus on your achievements
Like everything else on your resume, contract work needs to emphasize your achievements, not just account for how you’ve been spending your time. Your achievements should be quantifiable, results-oriented, and relevant to the positions you’re applying for.
You don’t need to list every job
If a particular job doesn’t strengthen your candidacy, leave it off! This is especially important if you have a long list of temporary experience. It’s okay to just include the positions that are the most relevant or which best demonstrate your skills.
Things To Keep in Mind
If you worked with an agency
If you were hired for a contract position through an agency, you need to list them as your employer. You can also include the company you worked for — this is optional, but it can help provide extra context. Just make sure you’re not representing the nature of your employment.
Grouping your experience
If you’ve held a few positions with different companies or agencies, it’s still possible to group these together. Think about what they have in common — like a similar industry or type of role — and list them accordingly.
Here are six ways to list temporary jobs on your resume, with examples for you to follow.
1. Label your experience
The simplest way to list temporary or contract positions on your resume is to label them. This is the best strategy if most of your job experience is full-time and you’ve only held one or two temporary positions. List these jobs as you would any other, but label them clearly with ‘temporary,’ ‘temp,’ or ‘contract.’ It doesn’t matter which one you choose — but be consistent, and use the same format throughout your resume.
2. Use the staffing agency as the company name
If your temporary jobs were all provided by a single staffing agency, list that agency as your employer. This format allows you to group a large number of jobs underneath a single heading, which makes your job history look more uniform and keeps your resume easy to read.
3. Use your own name (or similar) as a consulting firm
If you’ve done a lot of freelance or contract work directly, rather than through an agency, there’s nothing stopping you from creating your own firm and listing your experience under that heading.
Using a grouped firm name — even if it's your own — looks more professional than a collection of unrelated freelance or temporary jobs, and listing your work under one heading gives you the opportunity to emphasize the most relevant skills you’ve picked up. It also shows recruiters that you have focus in one specific discipline or industry.
4. Highlight specific experiences
Underneath the employer section — which could be a staffing agency or your own consulting firm — write a short blurb that contextualizes your experience. This works best if you’ve held a number of temporary or contract positions with similar titles or duties, but if not, try to find a common theme to connect your work. This approach is all about presenting a meaningful and consistent job history, so focus on highlighting your most relevant accomplishments from each assignment.
5. List specific dates
Having lots of temporary jobs is one situation where it pays to list specific months — not just years — on your resume. Again, if you have a lot of these, it’s best to group them under a single heading, like a staffing agency. Underneath that, you can list each company or position and the exact dates you worked for them.
6. List temporary jobs in their own section
If none of the approaches above work for you — for example, if you’ve held a few different contract positions in between full-time jobs — another solution is to create a separate section on your resume for temporary jobs.
This might be a good idea if the temp work you’ve done isn’t related to your current field but fills what would otherwise be large gaps in your work history. List your relevant work experience as normal, with a ‘Contract Work’ section underneath.