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Handling Temp Work on Your Resume

"Handling Temp Work on Your Resume

How to Handle Consulting, Freelance, Temporary or Work on Your Resume

Work is work. Experience is experience. It does not matter whether or not you were paid, or how you were paid--on payroll, as a consultant or through an intermediary firm.

If you are performing work for a certain company but are being paid through an intermediary company, such as a temporary services firm, do not put the name of the intermediary firm on your resume unless it is in your best interest to do so.

Companies make arrangements with intermediary firms for their own reasons, and those negotiations should not affect the way you position yourself on your resume.

For example, Sharon is working full time as a project manager at IBM. The project is expected to last for four years. She reports to people at IBM, works with people there and even manages IBMers. But she was hired by, and is paid by, a temporary services firm (and receives no benefits, by the way). Which firm should she put on her resume: the temporary services firm, or IBM? IBM is where she works.

The temporary services firm is merely a middleman, and the work she does has nothing to do with them. Therefore, she should indicate that she served as a project manager for IBM. Which company actually pays her--or whether she gets paid at all--is not a resume issue.

Here's another example: John was the manager of the mailroom at his company. The company outsourced the mail function, which means that it was now being handled by an outside firm. John stayed in exactly the same place, doing exactly the same job, working with exactly the same people as he had in the past. However, his paychecks now came from the outsourcing company instead of the place where he worked. Do not disrupt your resume just because your company decides to handle its finances in a certain way. What if the company John worked for now decided to use a different outsourcing firm? Should he list three different companies on his resume when he hasn't moved at all? Of course not.

In the same vein, many people gain experience by doing volunteer work. Sydney wanted to learn a new programming language. He received a severance package from his former employer and decided to quickly get some real-life experience by doing exactly this kind of work for a major corporation--for free. He said to the hiring manager: "There is no risk on your part. You get someone to work for free for a few months, and I get new experience to put on my resume." Sydney was "hired." On his resume, Sydney noted in his summary that he was using the new programming language and stated that he was doing consulting work for this major corporation. In fact, Sydney did the work just so he could put it on his resume. (If you feel funny saying that you are doing consulting work when you are not getting paid, then ask the company to pay you a token amount.)

This holds true for other volunteer work you may have done throughout your life. For example, I ran The Five O'Clock Club for many years without getting paid (by my choice, all the money went to other workers). Even though I did not get paid, the experience still counted, and I happily put it on my resume.

If you have had a number of short-term consulting assignments during a given timeframe, it is still usually better to list the companies for which you did the work rather than the company that paid you. The sample below shows how one very successful job hunter did it. By the way, you can use this same technique if you had a number of short-term, on-payroll jobs. Just combine them so you don't have a long list of dates.

1996 - Present
Project Manager

  • For the REUTERS Training and Education Department: · Implemented Gyrus database: · Department had owned database for 2 years, but had given up on implementing it. · Identified steps necessary to implement, convinced management of plan's feasibility. · Wrote procedures manual. Trained staff. · Had system up and running in 2 months.
  • For the TIME INC. Corporate Finance Department · Member of team implementing Essbase system (a state-of-the-art financial database). · By creating simple control procedure, credited with saving project. · Cited for providing fast turnaround time. · Provided smooth transition in coverage for employee on leave. · Assumed all duties, including preparation of annual plan, monthly consolidated financial statements, cash flow statements, and analysis of ROI.
  • For the Controller of ADP BENEFITS SERVICES: · Audited the very disorganized books of 4 acquired companies. (Books had already been audited twice, to no one's satisfaction.) · Recommended final purchase price. · Revamped the company's billing, planning and analysis systems.

-Kate Wendleton, Five O’Clock Club"

<Note from JobFairy.com: Never list both the agency AND the client company. If you want better continuity, list the agency and the years you worked for them. If you go permanent at a job from contract, then rewrite your resume and include the time you spent there as a contractor in your total amount at that job on the resume. That is not technically inaccurate. Know when it's OK to name-drop (i.e. IBM) and when it's not (Enron). You want a resume that makes it look like you tend to stay at a job for long periods of time - whether you do or not.>

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· Handling Job-Hopping Questions
· Handling Temp Work on Your Resume
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