Each week, TopResume’s career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions like the one below from Quora and our Ask Amanda form. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for nearly 15 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.
Q: How can I make my temp jobs look good on a resume?
For the last 8 years, all of my jobs were temp or contract work through an employment agency. How do I put "achievements" on my resume when all my work looks like just a "do-er?" — Gayle
Knowing how to put temp work on a resume — and make it look impressive to hiring managers — can be the difference between landing the job and getting stuck in the resume black hole. It may seem impossible to list your temp jobs in a way that paints you as an “achiever” versus a “doer,” but there are things you can do with this work experience to demonstrate your value to a potential employer.
How to list your temp work on a resume
First, you’ll need to decide whether it will serve you better to list each temp job as a separate gig within your work experience or to group them together. This is one of those judgment calls that a professional resume writer is especially good at helping his or her clients make.
How to list temp jobs on a resume: example 1
Generally speaking, if you only have a couple of short-term or contract positions throughout your work history, then you’re better off listing each position in a separate entry. Be sure to include the word “temp,” “temporary,” or “contract” next to the job title to explain to the reader why your employment with that company was so short lived. In addition, this is one of those times where you’re probably better off listing your start and end dates using both the month and the year. Whatever format you decide to use for the temp jobs on your resume, make sure you are consistent.
NORTHWELL HEALTH LABS, New Hyde Park, NY
Medical Receptionist - Front Desk (Temp) | Mar 2018 - Jul 2018
NORTH SHORE-LIJ MEDICAL GROUP, Islandia, NY and North Babylon, NY
Office Receptionist (Temp) | Sep 2017 - Feb 2018
Managed schedules for…
Helped to maintain records for…
How to list temp jobs on a resume: example 2
If, like Gayle, your employment history is dominated by temp and contract work, then your best bet is to group your temp jobs together. This works especially well if all your temporary positions were arranged through the same agency, if you held similar titles, or if you performed similar duties during each assignment.
When grouping multiple temp jobs on your resume, list the agency as your employer, write a blurb that explains the types of assignments you accepted during that time, and then include a list of bullets that call attention to tasks you performed that are most noteworthy or are best at demonstrating your qualifications. Depending on your situation, you may or may not choose to list each company and your employment dates with that company in the bullets.
ROBERT HALF, New York, NY | 2015 - Present
Medical Receptionist - Front Desk (Temp)
Contracted by staffing agency Robert Half to work on a temporary basis as a receptionist for numerous medical facilities, including hospitals, physician private practices, and medical laboratories, throughout the greater New York City area. Performed diversified secretarial duties including, but not limited to: scheduling appointments, greeting and checking in patients, maintaining files and filing systems, and managing the inventory of office supplies.
Northwell Health Labs, New Hyde Park, NY (Mar 2018 - Jul 2018): Answered over 60 phone calls a day at one of the busiest medical labs on Long Island. Checked in 30-50 patients each day, often working with three or more people at any given time.
North Shore-LIJ Medical Group, Islandia, NY and North Babylon, NY (Sep 2017 - Feb 2018): Managed schedules for 10 OB/GYN physicians working out of two locations, often rearranging appointments at a moment’s notice. Helped to maintain records for more than 1,200 patients and digitize vital medical information.
How to make your temp work look impressive
Show, don’t tell
When recruiters are evaluating candidates, they’re looking for proof of skills. After all, it’s one thing to say you’re a great multitasker or that you thrive in a fast-paced work environment, but it’s another thing entirely to be able to back up these claims on your resume with work examples.
Once you’ve made a list of the soft and hard skills that are required to do the job you’re seeking, take another look at each role you’ve held and identify where and how you’ve used these skills to benefit your former employers.
Find the drama
For some professionals, such as those in sales or finance, it can be relatively easy to position yourself as an “achiever” versus a “doer” to hiring managers. Instead of listing responsibilities, these professionals should focus on sharing the results they’ve achieved for each employer while carrying out their responsibilities. Click on the following link for more information on how to position yourself as an “achiever” versus a “doer” on your resume.
If you’re an entry-level worker or if much of your experience is temp work, you’ll need to get creative if you want to describe your seemingly boring temp job in a way that makes it interesting to hiring managers. In an article my friend, Danny Rubin, penned about how to make any job look remarkable, he advises job seekers to ask themselves the following questions:
How are/were my jobs dramatic?
What made them tense or stressful?
According to Rubin, every job has moments of stress or high emotion. Use those opportunities to demonstrate how you possess the skills required to do the job you’re seeking. Your goal is to provide proof of your skills and describe it in a way that hiring managers will find interesting.
Consider which of these statements sounds better to you:
Managed schedules for 10 OB/GYN physicians working out of two locations, often rearranging appointments at a moment’s notice.
Scheduled appointments for patients in a timely manner.
Recruiters think so too.
Quantify your experience
Every job on your resume will look more impressive when you are able to add numbers. If you’re not in a position to talk about how your work led to more revenue, fewer costs, or an increase in customer satisfaction, use numbers to give hiring managers a better sense of the job you did and the environment in which you worked. This could include, but is not limited to, the number of:
Calls you answered or made on a given day.
People you supported, checked in, or fielded questions from.
Emails you replied to.
Product or product categories you helped restock on shelves.
You get the idea. Make a list of your duties. Then, look for places where you can add numbers to provide a clearer picture of the work you did.