Best way to show temp work on a resume?
March 27, 2009 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Resumefilter. What's the best way to note that I worked at a company as a temp for a good long while before being hired full-time? Is it necessary? And what about those 4-5 months before I started working for the firm, when I was a temp doing the same exact work, for other companies but also occasionally for the company who ended up hiring me?

A few years ago I worked as a legal assistant at a big firm in Los Angeles. I worked there for about 16 months as a full-time employee. (Let's say feb. 05 to june 06). Before that, I worked for them in the same capacity, only as a temp through a referral agency, for about five months (october 04 to feb 05). And before that, I worked as a legal temp in firms very much like the one I was eventually hired at full time, including once or twice for the firm that eventually hired me, for about five months.

How do I show this on my resume, while being as concise as possible? I want to use the office manager of the firm where I worked full-time as a reference, but I don't want a future employer to call her and ask how long I worked there, and have the office manager give a different answer than what I provide on my resume. I'd love to just lump that entire time I spent working as a temp together and fold it into the time I worked full-time for the firm I was hired at, but obviously that could be trouble. And I'd love to at least count the five months I was temping full-time but was not actually hired by the firm. The essence of my employment was the same, but as a point of fact, I did not actually "work for" company X for those 5 months I was a temp at the company. Ultimately, I don't want to show big gaps in my employment, but I also don't want to write down 4 months of work here, 5 months of work there. The Resume gets pretty long when you do that. What's the best course of action, mefites?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You can do like this:

Acme Industries, May 2006-May 2008 (contract via Widget Recruiting May-August 2006)

That accounts for your actual for-tax-purposes employers, and then lumps all the work together.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:36 AM on March 27, 2009

Your resume should look like this:

Big Firm In Los Angeles. Los Angeles, CA

Full Time Legal Asst Feb 05- June 06

Temporary Legal Asst Oct 04-Feb 05

Previous Employer. Place, State

Job Timeframe

When you put two jobs under one company, it is assumed that you were promoted.
You can also use your cover letter to highlight the fact that they liked your temp work so much that they offered you a full time job etc.
Basically, list it chronologically in the resume and explain it in the letter.
posted by rmless at 7:36 AM on March 27, 2009

I would expect to see something like this:
Oct. 04-Feb. 05: Temporary Legal Services Agency, Legal Assistant
Provided support and assistance to lawyers (or whatever a legal assistant does) at firms including Strunk & White; Dewey, Cheatham & Howe; and Siegfried & Roy. Adapted quickly to changing environments (and other things that you had to do because being a temp is more complicated than being a salaried employee).

Feb. 05-Jun.06: Dewey, Cheatham & Howe, Legal Assistant
Did all the stuff a normal legal assistant does, plus some extra things because I'm super awesome.
While I understand your desire to keep it concise and to keep the jumping from job to job at a minimum, the honest thing to do is to list each of your employers. In your case, your employers are a temp agency and a law firm.

Frankly, were I to see a resume like this, I'd be more impressed than if I only saw the one legal assistant job, because to me it would mean that while you were working as a temp, you managed to impress your supervisors enough that they wanted to hire you full time. Temping is real work, and has its own challenges (as I'm sure you know). Rather than trying to hide it, make it clear that you were really good at it.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:43 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've had a similar work experience and got hired permanently by a company after working for them on contract for two years. I listed the two positions as separate jobs.
posted by orange swan at 7:59 AM on March 27, 2009

Not sure you realize it from the tone of the post, but temp-to-hired is a big big plus for you, so I would make sure you note it somehow on your resume. In my experience, the percentage of temps who move to full-time employment is small, and seeing this on a resume would demonstrate to me that you had done such a great job at the temp position that your employer had moved you to full-time.
posted by raisingsand at 8:31 AM on March 27, 2009

I have a similar but different issue because I was a contractor (not via a temp firm), and fwiw, I list it like this:
Company * Widgets Director * October 200x - present
Company * Widgets Contractor * January-October 200x
- Duty #1 blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
- Duty #2 blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
- Duty #3 blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
For your situation, Lyn Never describes how that would look. If you want to say "I'm so awesome that I was hired full time after being a temp for only a few months," put that in your cover letter. I agree with you that it's worth using that inch of resume page space for something else, instead of repeating similar duties, particularly since it was only a few months.
posted by salvia at 10:39 AM on March 27, 2009

IMO it's a plus to have been hired by the company you were working for as a temp employee. That's how I landed in my current job. My new employer did not want to have to pay the enormous hiring fee that the temp agency required, so I continued to work as a temp for the next 5 months which over time reduced the hiring fee based on the hours I worked.
I was hired as a front desk admin and advanced to exec asst and then office manager.

Since I'd worked at the temp firm for just over a year I listed them as my employer for that time stating 'various positions in X, Y and Z industries' as my work. For my current employer I stated that I started in a temp capacity and advanced to X, Y and Z positions during my employment.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 11:05 AM on March 27, 2009

Yeah, I'd say list as a sub-category under your work for that employer. On my resume, I have a position where I held an internship and then started fulltime a year later. It goes like this:

XYZ Company, LLC....................AwesomeTown, GreatState..........................Dates
[Full-time Title].......................................................................................(Internship Title) Dates
[What I did, stuff and things, wonderful, wonderful.]

Obviously without the dots - those are just to space things out here.

Best of luck getting it all one One Page!
posted by xiaolongbao at 4:20 PM on March 27, 2009

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