How to reference temporary work on your CV

By Robert Half on 3rd May 2015

Knowing how to reference temp work on a CV can be the difference between success in the jobs market and career frustration. Experience of working in temp roles through a temp agency can add value to your employment record, but you need to demonstrate the value such roles have offered. As a professional looking for a new job, it's important to explain how the positions you've held - whether permanent or temporary - have boosted your skill set and aided your career development.

Many professionals enjoy the flexibility and freedom that comes with non-permanent placements, knowing they are not tied to any single employer for the long term. Others look for temporary, contract or interim jobs as bridge between permanent roles, or as a way to re-enter the workforce after a period of inactivity. Working as a temp is a credible career option; these employees provide a valuable service for UK organisations across many industry sectors.

Avoiding career gaps

Whatever your reasons for working as a temp, it can be to your benefit as a professional. Referencing temporary jobs on your CV helps avoid gaps in your career history which may prove difficult to explain at interview. Think of it from an employer's perspective. They will be more impressed if you're in the workplace - acquiring skills, gaining experience and showing your versatility - rather than sitting at home waiting for an interview offer. It's all about displaying your enthusiasm for work, willingness to learn and eagerness to get ahead.

Writing a strong temp CV, which references temporary work, can potentially help you secure a new job in the future. This might be a full-time, permanent position or another temporary job, depending on the career choices you make. Either way, you need to prove your capability to prospective employers. This means documenting your temp history accurately and showing the value temp roles have offered. Here’s how to do it without looking like a serial job hopper:

Reference your employers

A common mistake professionals make when referencing temp jobs on their CV is write down the name of the wrong employer. If you are sent on a work placement by a recruitment agency, they are your employer, not the organisation you are providing services for. Client organisations pay recruiters to provide them with temporary workers, and recruiters assign staff to placements accordingly. So when adding a temporary job to your CV, you need to list your recruitment agency as your employer. Always include the start and end dates of your employment with the agency.

Reference your roles

Under the name of your recruitment agency and a short blurb explaining their line of businesses and areas of specialism, you should list the roles you have undertaken. You may have worked in a number of temp or interim jobs for different client organisations, or potentially just a single one. Name the companies you provided services for and the main duties you were charged with in the course of each placement. Write down your dates of employment on your CV.

Highlight your achievements

You want hiring managers to be impressed by your CV, whether you're looking for temporary or permanent jobs. As such, it's important to highlight your key achievements in each role you have undertaken, and explain how the position has assisted your career development. Think about the skills you have acquired, and experiences you have gained. If you can provide specific examples of achievements to highlight the value you added, then all the better.

Get the formatting right

When listing temporary jobs on your CV, ensure they are included in reverse chronological order. This means your most recent placement should appear first on your CV in your 'employment history' section. Then work backwards, including all the temporary roles you have worked in while employed by a recruitment agency. Even if you only worked on a particular placement for a few days two years ago, you should still list it on your CV.

Be a proud temp

Regardless of whether you have actively chosen temp work, or simply opted for agency placements while you look for a permanent role, it is important to be proud of your achievements. When writing your CV and discussing your career record at interview, focus on the value of your temp experience. Don't be apologetic for spending a period outside of permanent employment, or try to hide temp roles from your CV. Remember, for many professionals, temporary working is a genuine lifestyle choice - their own career preference.

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