Q. After I graduated from college last May, I spent the summer looking for a job. Since the fall, I have been working as a temp. For the past two months, I have been with the same company. Before that. I worked at several temp jobs. On my resume, how can I best include the experience?
A. Because of the current economic crisis, it is not that unusual for a recent college graduate to remain in a temporary role through the fall and even into the spring. At least you are gaining valuable “real life” work experience. Temping can sometimes get a bad rap, but less frequently these days. On the positive side, temping can expose you to different industries, work environments, and types of roles. Often temporary positions help you identify your true strengths (and weaknesses). Temporary roles can also help you define what activities and roles that you may enjoy and those that you may not. These are important learnings for you as a professional. In Massachusetts (a state with one of the highest percentages of college graduates -- over 35 percent), an undergraduate degree remains very valuable.
First, ensure that your resume has a well-written summary at the top. This summary should include key words that will trigger interest in your resume. For example, if you are interested in marketing or community relations, include these terms in your summary. Larger companies also often use software to sort through the high volume of resumes they receive. Managers and human resources departments often use a key word search to find suitable candidates. For example, if a hiring manager is looking for a candidate that is strong in web analytics with consumer data, a candidate would want to use these terms in their resume so it would rise to the top of the “hit list.”
If all of your temp roles are through one firm, you can present your temporary experience as follows:
Community Relations Representative 2008 - present
ABC Inc. (through XYZ Temporaries)
- list key responsibilities in a concise format
- use metrics to make it more persuasive and to demonstrate your value
- for example: reduced marketing spend 7% annually in the area of community relations by learning newsletter production software and producing newsletter in-house
Or if your temporary roles were more varied and short-term:
Marketing Professional 2008 – present
(though XYZ Temporaries)
- worked with marketing teams across a diversity of industries,
including biotech, higher education, technology and financial
- roles included: events planner, public relations coordinator and assistant to VP of International Marketing
- include key metrics and skills that you may have learned; think what may differentiate your professional experience from others.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.