3 Tips on How to List Contract Work on Your Resume

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Get The Job - 3 years ago

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Writing a resume can be fraught with tons of tiny concerns when it comes to etiquette.

Do most people include these types of skills in this kind of resume? Do most resumes in this field include experience from jobs like this, or is my experience irrelevant?

“Dear Congress. My extraordinary show The Bachelor Except It’s For Millionaires and It’s Starring Me ran for nearly nine seasons with abysmal ratings the whole time. Terrible show. Truly. Anyway, that’s why I think I deserve to be the President. Resume over.”

But deciding whether to include contract or temporary work on your resume can often be one of the toughest concerns you’ll face.

This is because, 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, that 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 work on your resume as you can.


1. What’s the Harm in Listing Contract Work on Your Resume?

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

For the most part, employers prefer 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?

Will Susan ever stop showing me earnest, if poorly written, messages of support on her notepad throughout the day?

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. So what are you supposed to do?

2. 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. But in either situation, leaving off your contract work is something that you likely can’t afford to do.

For one thing, 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 having to hide legitimate work experience you have from your potential employers, which is bad for both of you.

“I see here that you spent nine years roaming San Diego beach as a wrinkled old ghost in a grey sport jacket. Tell me a little more about that.”

So you should definitely list your contract work on your resume, but there are a couple things you should keep in mind as you do so.

  • 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.
  • For this reason and others, the organization of your resume is extremely important for your resume. Try grouping 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.
  • 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.
  • If you’ve done multiple projects for the same company, list all of that work under the same company’s name.

3. Sample Contract Work Resume Listing

Here’s a quick example of one way you might try listing a single entry of contract work on your resume:

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.

Wrapping Up:

Remember that when it comes to listing contract work, including the work is always better than ignoring it.

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

“Everywhere I have a blank spot on my resume, I just filled it with the words Chief Burger Inspector at Wendy’s. Lol.”

Anyway, best of luck to you! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

13 Job Interview Etiquette Tips to Help You Land a Job
10 Tips for Making the Most of Career Fairs
How to Show Promotions on Your Resume

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