How To List Contract Work On Your Resume (With Examples)

By Ryan Morris - Feb. 3, 2021

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Writing a resume can be fraught with tons of tiny concerns when it comes to etiquette. Deciding whether to include contract or temporary work on your resume is often one of the toughest concerns you’ll face.

Even in the modern era of uncertain employment and the growing number of people who make the majority of their living from contract or temporary employment, this type of employment still often carries a big stigma.

That’s why we’ve put together a few tips on how you can best avoid this stigma while still being able to include as much of your temporary contract work on your resume as you can.

Should You Include Contract Work on Your Resume?

Yes, in most cases you should include contract work on your resume. Any legitimate work experience that helps prove you have the right skills for a job should be listed on your resume. Working as a contractor also shows recruiters that you’re capable of adapting to new work environments quickly, which is an attractive trait in a job seeker.

Additionally, contract work that helps fill gaps in your employment is crucial to include. It proves that you weren’t idle while in between jobs and that your resourcefulness led you to find other avenues for paid employment.

The main issue with including contract work is a little bit dated since the gig and freelance economy have been thriving in the recent job market.

Still, listing contract work on your resume can be cause for alarm to some (although not all) employers.

For the most part, a recruiter or hiring manager prefers to see steady work experience where someone works for a number of years at a single location before moving on.

This is because hiring anyone is essentially an employer making the following bet: Will this person I’m hiring remain with my company long enough to make up the money I’m going to spend on training them?

For this reason, it can be a bit of a red flag when employers see too many seasonal or contract-based work experiences on your resume.

If these experiences aren’t properly detailed (or even sometimes if they are) then it can easily look to a potential employer like you’re the kind of person who jumps from job to job at a moment’s notice. They might start to worry that you’re the kind of person who gets bored easily, who won’t stick around for very long.

Regardless of whether or not that’s true, it’s a look you want to avoid when you’re constructing your resume.

But when contract work is all you have, it can be even more harmful to leave off this kind of work.

When in doubt, include any contract work that can make your work history more impressive, emphasize your qualifications and accomplishments, and ultimately help you stand out in recruiters’ minds.

6 Tips for How to List Contract Work on Your Resume

For one thing, contract work is not a bad thing — in fact, it’s how plenty of people make most or all of their total income.

Plenty of employers are aware of this, even if others are still catching up. Regardless, leaving off your contract work is something that you likely can’t afford to do.

Doing so could leave noticeable gaps in your employment record — and for another thing, the more contract work that you leave off your resume, the more you’re hiding legitimate work experience you have from your potential employers, which is bad for both of you.

What’s a general tip for writing a resume?

Lucas Moe
Career Coach & Consultant

Two quick tips:

  1. Be action/result oriented (result should be written in active voice e.g. streamlining, enhancing, producing, reducing, etc.)
  2. Make points quantifiable (if you struggle with quantifying your bullet, find the noun and quantify the noun – you can ask yourself: How much? How many? How often?).

While you should definitely list your contract work on your resume, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind as you do so:

  1. Tell a story. The most important thing about including contract work is to focus on telling a story.

    Work experience at a single company over a long period of time tends to do this by default — if you’re stringing together work you undertook on a variety of projects, then the job of crafting the narrative of your work experience falls on you.

  2. Organize your contract work. For this reason and others, the organization of your resume is extremely important for your resume. Group all of your contract work into one central location of your resume, so that any interviewer will be able to quickly scan and understand which work experiences of yours were done in which context.

    You can group by industry or job type; whatever makes sense for you. List your contract work in reverse-chronological order, starting with your most recent experiences. If you’ve done multiple projects for the same company, list all of that work under the same company’s name.

  3. Be clear with your formatting. List each company you worked for individually. Don’t be afraid to list both the contract firm employing you as well as the specific company you did the work for.

    Just make sure it’s clear that the staffing agency was your employer and your projects were done for other companies. You can impress the recruiter if you’ve done contract work for some reputable companies.

    Formatting a resume with contract work can be tricky, but we recommend the functional resume format if you lack sufficient full-time work experience. It emphasizes your skills and qualifications over work experience.

  4. Customize your resume for the prospective employer. As with any resume you send out, make sure your work experience is tailored for the client or position you’re hoping to land. This is where contract work can be a real asset, especially if you have experience wearing a bunch of different hats.

    Read the job description for key qualifications and responsibilities, then select and emphasize contract work you’ve done that most closely matches those. It’s a bit of extra work, but you’ll see better results with a customized resume.

  5. Emphasize your accomplishments. Your achievements tell the story of what exactly the result of your contract work was. Use action verbs and quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. For example, instead of saying “Designed webpage for company X,” say something like “Revamped webpage, driving traffic by 23% over 2 months.”

    Your main goal throughout the hiring and interview process is to convince a hiring manager or recruiter that you’re going to add real, tangible value to the company.

  6. Focus on your skills. Go over the job posting and highlight the skills mentioned there. Then, emphasize those skills in the context of your contract work. Your cover letter gives you a chance to emphasize your skills even further, but you can still incorporate a few choice keywords into your resume.

Examples of Contract Work on a Resume

Here’s a quick example of one way you can list a single entry of contract work on your resume:

Example 1: Single Contract Work Entry

Marvel Studios, LLC; Burbank, CA
Content Writer and Stan Lee Personal Bodyguard; Contract (July – Dec 2017)

  • Brainstormed, workshopped, and ultimately executed ideas for both inline and blog content.

  • Protected famed comic book author Stan Lee from numerous assassination attempts originating from an international cabal of out-of-work comic book artists/hitmen headed by Steve Ditko.

Note: When listing multiple projects under the same company, remember that you only need to list the company’s name and address a single time.

Let’s take look at a full sample resume with a hefty amount of contract work.

Example 2: Full Resume With Contract Work

John Pilgrim
Birmingham, NY | 999-876-5555 | JohnPilgrim@gmail.com | www.linkedin.com/in/john-pilgrim/

SUMMARY STATEMENT
Experienced writer, copyeditor, and editorial manager with a background in technology and science. Delivers high-quality, customized SEO web content, content marketing materials, and client-facing newsletters. Thrives in a deadline-driven environment while supporting sales goals and client-oriented projects.

SKILLS

  • Proficient with HTML/CSS

  • Excellent written and verbal communciation skills

  • Expert with Google suite and Excel

  • Working knowledge of WordPress

  • Ability to translate complex topics into easily readable information

WORK EXPERIENCE

XYZ Consultancy | Birmingham, NY

Calico Tech | Johnson City, NY
Lead Editor: Science and Tech Blog; Contract (Sep. 2020-Present)

  • Drove traffic to company blog by 67% over a 4-month period

  • Copyedited 40 articles per week, maintaining consistent style, tone and graphics

  • Managed a team of 8 writers and 2 designers to meet deadlines, develop new content ideas, and create customized graphics

  • Developed and updated blog style guide

Heya Science | Park Terrace, NY
Content Writer: New Science Newsletter; Contract (May 2020-Oct. 2020)

  • Delivered 2 long-form newsletters per week, totaling 5,000 words and reaching 10,000+ subscribers

  • Conducted competitor research and reported weekly at Marketing team meeting

  • Won best writer June 2020

Big Tech Jr. | Philadelphia, PA
Marketing Assistant; Contract (Nov. 2019-June 2020)

  • Planned new content and promoted page on social media

  • Drove app engagement by 39% over first three months

  • Created streamlined marketing/engineering protocols, improving turnaround time on new projects by 16%

Johnson and Johnson | New York, NY
Junior Marketing Assitant; (May 2017-Nov. 2019)

  • Assisted marketing team by collecting data and reporting findings on a weekly basis

  • Leveraged organizational skills to create spreadsheets for tracking success of various marketing campaigns

  • Drove website traffic to the science and tech blog by 12%

EDUCATION
B.S. in Marketing (May 2017); GPA 3.8
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Dean’s List for 8 semesters

Final Thoughts

Remember that when it comes to listing contract work, including the work is always better than ignoring it. Job hunting is tough, but with these tips in mind, you should have a great resume to go along with your winning cover letter.

Even if you’re worried about the way that you’ll be perceived for the large amount of temporary or contract work, remember that most recruiters and hiring managers would agree that contract work looks better on a resume than no work at all.

Use strong action verbs, hype up your accomplishments, and tailor your resume to the job posting. By showing off all the impressive skills your contract work has helped develop, you’ll have job offers in no time.

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Author

Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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