how to list temp work on a resume

by Ask a Manager on April 9, 2010

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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!

{ 65 comments }

LaurenL April 9, 2010 at 10:16 pm

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 April 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm

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 April 12, 2010 at 10:57 pm

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.)

Snoglydox January 2, 2014 at 2:30 am

Large corporations may not allow a person to do that; that is where I am at.

Jenny April 27, 2010 at 10:44 pm

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

LeeS September 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Ask a Manager, I neglected to put the temp service that I worked for on my resume. I put only the name of the contracting company. Will this hurt me for a job I’ve gotten an offer for? I was at the contracting jobs so long It seemed like I was their employee, but for references I’ve had to tell my potential employer the temp service contacts. I had to do this after receiving an offer, will this over site make them question my veracity?

Ask a Manager September 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Technically, you should put the name of the temp agency too. It’s fine to list both, but don’t leave the temp agency off, or it can be seen as misleading.

minoseah629 September 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Let’s say that I was originally with a temp agency in a position. After my temp contract was up, the company that I was temping for decided to have a group of temps hired under the same temp agency go through a subcontract instead of hiring on as an employee. I was wondering if this would look fine.

Verification Specialist August 2009 – present
Ceridian Corporation (via the Bowen Group)

Verification Specialist April 23, 2009 – August 2009
Ceridian Corporation (via Kelly Services)

I performed primarily the same duties. I am wanting to know if I can consolidate these two into one to save some space.

Ask a Manager September 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Yes! List them this way:

Verification Specialist April 2009 – present
Ceridian Corporation (via the Bowen Group and Kelly Services)

Tiphani October 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Hi,

I think this was a great article and very useful for me. Thanks a million!!

Lee October 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

who do you put down as your supervisor?

Should it be the recruiter?

Ask a Manager October 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm

The person who actually supervised your work, so the on-site manager.

Jamie October 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I temped for 18 months (back when the economy was good and I could afford to be picky) and I listed the supervisors at the company sites to speak to my work.

I also listed my agent at the temp agency because she was able to speak to my overall feedback metrics and dependability across the board. If I had to choose, though, it definitely would have been the on-site supervisors.

Michelle November 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

How would you list the following situation on a resume?

I worked as a temp (through Manpower) for Company A from Jan-May 2008 (in Dept. A). Then I worked as a temp (through Manpower) for Company A from July-Aug. 2008 (in Dept. B). Then I worked for Company A from Sept. 2008-July 2009 (in Dept. A). Then I went back to school in a different state from Company A. I then worked as a temp (through Manpower) for Company A for Dec. 2009-Jan. 2010 (in Dept. A). I then worked as a temp (through Manpower) for Company A for May-July 2011 (in Dept. A). I then recently started as a remote employee for Company A in Sept. 2011- present (in Dept. A). I have been specicially requested by Dept. A every time I have worked there so that I contact Manpower to set up the temp work at Company A (except when I worked for Dept. B).

One resume consultant said that I should list the actual job with Company A separately and list the others as “seasonal” work, as below:
Company A, Des Moines, Iowa
~Project Assistant II (through Manpower)- seasonally Jan. 2008-Present
~Senior Administration Specialist- Sept. 2008-July 2009

But I was worried that the word “seasonally” might be misleading, especially now that I am working as a remote employee during the year. I had “occasionally” before that, but the resume consultant said they didn’t like that word because it sounded too whimsical.

Is there a better way to list this on a resume without it getting overwhelming to the person looking at the resume? Is this not too misleading as is? Any help you can give would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Ask a Manager November 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

“Seasonally” or “sporadically” seem to make the most sense. I wouldn’t say “occasionally” since that sounds like a lot less than what it was.

Michelle November 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

Thanks!

Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Hi,

I have been working for a company through a temp agency for the past 6 months. As promised, the company is now giving me the oppurtunity to hire into the position. Company policy states they still have to post the position again which means I need to apply and go through the process again even though I have been doing the job for the past 6 months. My question is, in what ways should I update my resume?

Ask a Manager December 27, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Do it just how you’d do it if you were sending the resume someplace else!

T. Day December 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Current I have been challenged by creating an clear and concise resume. What has been my major concern is listing my temporary work. My assignments have ranged from one month to four months. Overall my full-time work are only about four positions. Should I separate my full-time and temporary work on my resume? Should there be a specific Temporary section and Full-Time section.

Nicole April 5, 2012 at 10:42 am

I have been temping at the same company for two years in different departments. When I send out my resume I don’t get many responses except from agencies. I no longer want to temp. I always get asked the question am I looking for permanent work both from recruiters at agancies as well as permanent jobs. I have worked in finance for the past 6 years and have moved around quite alto in that field. Many of the companies I worked for merged or downsized and I lost my job. I have not been on a job for more than 3 years. Does that also make my resume look bad and what do I do in that instance?

Jessica April 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I have worked at a company for a year under a contact. At first it was for 3 months and then it ended up for a year. I left in wonderful terms. They where going to hire me but end up letting me go because they cut 75 people from the company. In my resume and when I apply to different company in there site I would put the company’s name and the temp agents to.
1st question is this right to do?
Company’s name (via temp agent)
For job tile Recruiting Coordinator (Contract).
Last week I had a phone interview they called the supervisors at the company sites I worked for but she doesn’t work there anymore. They ended up talking to HR in the company and was told that I didn’t work there. Since I got the interview by a friend that works at the company I applied for. The interviewer saw that there was a name of a temp agent company there and called them.
My 2nd question is in my resume and in the company’s website I apply to. Should I leave the company sites name I worked for or the temp agent I worked for because I am afraid that this is happening to other jobs I apply for.

Ask a Manager April 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Yep, that’s the right way to do it.

Anonymous April 17, 2012 at 12:49 am

Do i use both of the names of the company and phone numbers to

Amy April 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Such a useful article, thank you for posting!
Currently I’m working for a number of temping agencies in various positions, each on a relatively short-term basis. I was wondering how I would go about posting this?

CJ February 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Dear Ask a Manager,

I too am working several short term temp jobs (while looking for a perm position) for several agencies (there just doesn’t seem to be enough jobs to go around). I listed all 3 separately with the title of the type of work I was doing… the dates I have been with the agencies, listed some of the duties and that I received positive evaluations.

However, I had an interview the other day and since the agencies I’m with don’t have “staff” or anything that might indicate they are staffing agencies, my interviewer was confused as to how I was working with 3 companies at the same time.

So like Amy asks… how do I list those companies?.. and how do I do it so that it’s less confusing?

Sergio May 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I’m updating my resume and I’m trying to figure the best way to put that I worked for a temp company for an extended period of time (14 months) doing the same exact work as did when I got fully hired at the company I was temping for. I never temped at a different company or in a different position. I’m looking currently and I’m wondering how to put it on my resume so my start date doesn’t seem like I didn’t work for a year but I do want it to show the temp work so it doesn’t look funny on any prequalification or background checks that the companies I’m applying to may do

Ryan May 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I’m also looking to update my resume, and was wondering how best to fit what little temp work I’ve been given on it. I’ve only been with the temp agency (Randstad) since March 2012, and have currently only been given two assignments so far. One was at RONA Home & Garden for three days, and then at Canadian Tire for one month.
In both cases the work I did consisted of preparing for the new season, things such as: merchandising, loading/unloading trucks, moving pallets, heavy lifting, stocking product, etc.
According to your article, I would be better off using Randstad as the employer and listing the various tasks I’ve performed, but what I’d like to know is if I should include the sites I’ve worked at (and if I should include the short time frames for both) and how it should be organized if I do.
Thanks in advance!

nana May 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

i’d like to ask since during my whole working life I’ve worked a few temp jobs, but what my problem is I cannot remember what co they were that the temp agency sent me too. How do I put that on my resume? I only took long term assignments as I needed to have $$ coming in consistently.
I’d appreciate any feedback.
Thanks

Ask a Manager May 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Your best bet is to contact the temp company and see if they can tell you. But in the future, track that information!

Laurie July 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I am interviewing with a company and the person interviewing me wants two supervisiors to contact. I was wondering for one of my jobs it was a temp should I be giving them the name of the person that overseen me or should I be giving the name of the agency and the person that got me the job at the temp agency. Not sure of what to do…

Ask a Manager July 27, 2012 at 12:17 am

Either one is fine! They may prefer the person who actually supervised your work, but you could just ask them if they have a preference.

E August 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I am working with a couple of recruiters in finding a full time job. I am just finishing a three-day assignment at a major oil and gas company. I understand three days is not much. But it is a well-known company and I would like to list something on my resume for present. Should I wait and compile a few more assignments together? If so, what working should I use when listing the companies? Thanks so much! E

E August 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I meant “wording” not “working.” Thanks.

Brian September 17, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I put on my resume just like seen below. I have had many different assignments via Kelly over this tough economy over the last few months. Pay sucks, but if they like you, will get you some great short-term jobs.

Kelly Employee Services
Business Representative
2012-Curent

Simple, and is the truth; you represent Kelly; that is who pays you.I work business assignments for Kelly and represent them. Explain to the recruiter, if they call, what you did, and for where you worked and how long.

Ask a Manager September 18, 2012 at 10:33 am

Other might feel differently, but if I saw that on a resume, I’d assume you were working within Kelly’s offices as an employee there rather than as a temp. I’d find it a bit misleading if I then realized what you actually meant by it. Wouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker, but I’d wonder if it was intentionally misleading, which would concern me.

Pam October 1, 2012 at 10:25 am

I have recently worked with two different temporary companies kelly and adecco each assignment lasting only 2 months each. I wonder how it might look to a Manager as I am just trying to stay employed until I can find a full time position. Also how do I list them together or separately?

Ask a Manager October 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

List it all under temp work.

Altered Resume This Way & That... January 7, 2013 at 3:47 am

I have tried the above, and that did not work, once I actually got an offer, they demanded to know the agency and the company I was assigned to. I have wrote my resume so many different ways (all honestly) and still no luck…… I feel like either way the temp work makes me seem like a job hopper……. All I am trying to do is keep food on the table…..please help.

Roxann October 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm

how do you list temp positions that you only worked for a few weeks on your resume or should you list them??

Ask a Manager October 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Normally I’d say exactly what I said in the original post, so can you tell me more about why that won’t work for you?

Natacha November 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Hi

how would you word your resume if you worked for a temp agency back in 2003, then had other jobs in between. I went back and worked for the same temp agency again in 2012? Would it show on my resume two seperate times? or under the same bullet point? or is it a good idea to go that far back (2003)?

Example:
Temp A Executive 2012- present
“other jobs in between”
Temp A Assistant 2003

Thanks

Ask a Manager November 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Either is fine.

Daniel November 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Would I put an extremely temporary job on my resume (I took it when I already had a job and so it doesn’t fill a gap)? I got hired on as a security/crowd control officer for Black Friday. I’m only working one day for twelve hours. I’m already employed (but since I have the day off, why not pull in a few extra bucks?) and so it’s not like it’s filling in a gap… It also has nothing to do with my career and so it doesn’t really help me… However, I wasn’t sure if I should still include it…

Ask a Manager November 15, 2012 at 11:04 am

No point if it doesn’t strengthen your candidacy in some way.

London November 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm

How would you list temp/contract jobs that you didn’t get through an agency? I graduated 2 years ago and all my jobs since then have been 1-6 month temp roles that I got directly with the company/ organisation involved, so I can’t list them under a temp agency.

At the moment I’ve got a combination-style resume and I list them just like any other job, but I’m worried this is making me look like an unreliable job-hopper…

Ask a Manager November 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Put them all under a Temp Work section, or note next to each “(short term contract)”.

NJ November 29, 2012 at 9:52 pm

I graduated in May 2009 and all of my jobs have been temporary. Should I feel bad about this? Before I accepted this current temp role I had a Financial Analyst interview in which the Manager asked why I had never had permanent employment. He made it sound like it was a bad thing. I simply told him the opportunity had yet to present itself and I liked to get any Financial experience I could until then. Is that a good answer? Or should I have said something different? Obviously I didn’t get that job.

Mandy December 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Question I’m working for Brown University but its through a temp agency and its for only 6 months I started in Nov and will end in June. Right now Iwant to apply for a full time perm position in Brown University in a different department but the same kind of work what should I put on my resume?

Priscila December 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

From July to September, 2012 (1 1/2 month) I worked as part time coder for a company (direct hire). After all projects were done I did not work until December and it will go through June, 2013. I consider this a part time job, but how should I put in my resume if I did not work October and November? Some agencies have contacted me offering me to apply for full time positions, and I am updating my resume. I am not so sure how to specify or not at all that information unless I inform to my recruiter about it.

Kayla S. January 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I would love your advice –
I ran my own marketing company for 2+ years. During that time I worked as an on-site consultant 20hrs per week for two different organizations, both for 2 years. I have no idea how to reference this on my resume.
Thanks!

Gabryone Batiste Newman January 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hello:

I have a question. I have a short term full job history as well as short term temp work on my resume.

For example: Professional work experience
Convention Badge Checker Alamo Security Services
Sept 2012- Present
Production/Communications Assistant New Orleans Television May 2012- August 2012
Customer Service Representative Edible Arrangements
May 2012 (Seasonal Position)

Being that this is a limited work space, These jobs mentioned won’t accurately reflect how it looks on my resume; however, my work experience consists of several short term temporary assignments and short term full time employment. I wonder if employers would be leary of hiring me.

Any thoughts how I can rearranged my work experience regarding several short term temporary assignments and short term full time employment?

Theresa Carpenter January 16, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Great Topic!I have found it very helpful

After I graduated, I found work through a Temp agency. I had two assignments: One was for a week working as a receptionist while they were trying to fill to position doing their own search and the second was where I’m currently at now in which I was offered a permanent position after 3 months when my contracted ended.

I plan on doing this example for my current position:

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

However, I don’t know how I should list my 1 week assignment

Ask a Manager January 16, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Yep, that’s perfect. I wouldn’t even bother mentioning the 1-week assignment since it was just one week.

Olivia January 29, 2013 at 10:51 am

Hello,

I was hired by this Real Estate company (via a stuffing company) to cover for the Real Estate Accounting Manager while she is on maternity leave. At the time I was fairly new to the city, I moved in October ’12 and took this opportunity in November ’12. This company is close to my apartment, so i thought it would be a great start while I adjust to this city. But since I have never done anything like this before I am not sure on how to list my tittle on my resume. I was thinking “Real Estate Accounting Manager (Substitute)” is this okay?

John February 13, 2013 at 12:36 am

I dont like referring to myself as a “temp” because it doesnt reflect the skill I bring to my work. On the other hand Im not quite comformtable with labour contractor because Im not under contract. Any suggestions?

Tiffany February 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm

When providing references, should I provide the address/phone number of the temp agency, or of the assignment, especially if I was there for at least a couple months?

John April 4, 2013 at 10:01 am

Hello,

From 2005 to 2006 I took credited college courses as well as worked for a few temp agencies. In your opinion, what would be the best way to list that on my resume without showing such a large gap?

Thanks

Kiné April 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Thanks for your post! I’m currently at my first temp job right now and starting to brainstorm how to include the work on my resume. The author of the question touched on a really great point, which is that I do not want to crowd out relevant information. So, I like your idea of listing the responsibilities of multiple positions under the recruiting company/temp agency. Really useful guidance ~ thanks!

JACOB June 10, 2013 at 11:33 pm

I am writing a resume for the first time and I’ve done work for many temp agencies. My question is after writing down the agencies name and were i was sent to work. Should i put the agencies address or the location were I was working in?

Jenna June 13, 2013 at 3:58 pm

After graduating I was asked to come back to work for the same company I had done two internships with during college, but instead of putting me directly on payroll they hired me through their contracting agency to get me started. I stayed on for a year and a half and had no contact with my contract agency except for when I had payroll questions. Technically I was “employed” by the agency but I feel like I’m slighting myself by saying I was a temp. Is there any way I can emphasize the fact that the company I did the work for recruited me as opposed to the temp agency?

Ali June 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I recently worked at a temp for a company but did not go through an agency, I just happened to know someone at that company who recommended me for the temp position. Hos Would I list this without it looking negative on my resume?

Jamie June 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Just note it as a temporary position – so it’s clear that the short time frame was intentional and not due to performance.

My kids temp at my work on school breaks and not through an agency – that’s how I taught them to list it and it’s makes it clear.

Jen July 16, 2013 at 12:26 am

Hello I have a quick question on the same topic but my situation is different. I worked as an admin assistant for a company in college for about a year but had to leave because of scheduling conflicts in my classes. I spent a year doing more college related activities and another year interning in both my fall and spring semester of my senior year. About the time my spring internship ended and graduation neared, I received a call from my old boss at the same company asking if I could fill in and do part time temp work which I agreed to. So I have two questions
1. How would I list this strange year gap on my resume/ should I note that it is temp work?
2.Does that year gap of my school related activities look bad to potential employers? (just a side note I spent it doing a fellowship and writing for my school’s paper)

Tom September 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

I had a similar experience – I listed dates of employment separately and explained [briefly] in my cover letter that I worked for company A for a short time, went back to college for continuing education and currently work PT for the same company.

I had another job where I worked for a short time on contract (not through a temp service) and simply put “contractual” next to the dates of employment.

It’s better to be honest on your resume – btw, I was commended, in the interview for my current position, on how concise my resume was.

Nova Walker September 19, 2013 at 10:01 am

I work for a temp service. I been with the same assignment for months now. What should I list as my position? I work on a production line at a food plant.

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