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Temp and volunteer work on a resume?

Posted by Pattie Hunt Sinacole  April 13, 2009 10:50 AM

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Q. When doing a resume can you list temp or volunteer jobs that you had worked at in the past?

A. In a word, absolutely! And you should. Temporary, contract or consulting roles should all be included in your resume if they add value. Also volunteer positions should also be included if they add value.

You raise a good point though. How to present the temporary or volunteer role on the resume?

One way that I have seen that is particularly effective for a temporary or contract role is as follows:

Executive Secretary ABC Company (through XYZ Staffing) 2006-present

Using this format, you have named the client company and also the temporary company that had placed you at this company. Especially if the client company (in this example, ABC Company) is a well-known company, you want to be certain you have that widely recognized name on your resume. However, it is helpful to also provide the temporary service’s name. The reason? The temporary services firm has your employment records and can confirm important information for a prospective employer (information like your title, dates of employment and the like).

For positions held on a volunteer basis, it depends whether the role is performed on a full-time or part-time/as needed basis. For a full-time role, I would suggest using a similar format to the one already provided. Example:

Event Chairperson XYZ Foundation 2008-2009

If the positions held on a volunteer basis were performed on a less than full-time basis, one option is to list your volunteer experiences toward the end of your resume. Example:

Other Experience:
• HPTA Co-chair for Special Events
• Treasurer for JKL Foundation

One related comment. I usually suggest that job seekers not use the word “volunteer” on their resume unless there is no other alternative. My reasoning is simple. Some hiring managers or recruiters may assume that volunteer positions are easy, simple and are not “real work.” Frankly, some volunteer positions may fall in that bucket but some truly do not. Often volunteers work tirelessly for a cause because they are passionate about the mission of that cause -- whether it is for their children’s school or a disease that has affected a loved one.

Finally, many new and transferrable skills can be learned or improved in a contract, temporary or volunteer position. Good luck in the writing of your resume.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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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.

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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.

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