Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Temporarily Working

There were two times during my employment history when I worked through a number of temp agencies to make ends meet. Each of the jobs lasted no more than a few months. Part of this is because I went to college twice. Sure, I obtained two degrees, but my work history looks like Swiss cheese.

But I see that, in all of your resumes, the dates in the Work History section are always displayed in years, as: 2001 - 2006. It's obviously your recommendation, and I understand why, but how can I downplay my "mobility" when it comes to time served per job?

By the way, all of the work history I want to include either has relevance to my current job search or explains what would otherwise be seen as a gap in employment.

- Is it appropriate to put multiple years if a job lasted five months over the turn of the year?
- Or, am I better off being honest and putting something like 11/99 - 4/00?
- Or, will a hybrid work, such as: 2003 - 2004 (four months)?
Thank you, Jeffrey

Email to Jeffrey
To give Jeffrey useful advice, I emailed him the following questions. Jeffrey’s answers are inserted immediately after each of my questions. (To keep Jeffrey’s identity anonymous, I changed the names of the employers and cities.)

1. What is your job objective for the resume you are creating?
I adjust it based on the position for which I'm applying, but it'll always say something like, "Administrative or sales support position with responsibilities in project management."

2. What were the dates of your two temp jobs and what were those temp jobs?
Here's what my work history looks like, back to 1999:

Sept. 06 - Present: Freelance Producer/News Writer, WABC News, Tampa, FL **filling in for maternity leave; position disappears when employee returns mid-December**
Nov. 04 - Aug. 06: News Producer/Writer, WDEF TV, Albany, NY
Apr. 02 - Oct. 04: Customer Support, Superior Training, Syracuse, NY
Jul. 01 - Oct. 03: Studio Crew (part time), WDEF TV, Albany, NY
Nov. 00 - Mar. 01: Sales Associate, Sears, Watertown, NYNov. 00 - Dec. 00: Temp. Customer Service Rep., PeoplePower, Watertown, NY
Aug. 00 - Nov. 00: Temp. Project Coordinator, Smith Temps, Watertown, NY
Mar. 00 - Jul. 00: Computer Svc. Coordinator, Burke Copy Shop, Avon, NY
Sept. 99 - Nov. 99: Copy Shop/Computer Svc. Consultant, Burke Copy Shop, Avon, NY
Jun. 99 - Aug. 99: PR Coordinator, Fundraiser (Intern), Go America, Durham, NC

3. What are the dates of your college experience?
Aug. 1995 - Aug. 1999: B.A. Journalism
Aug. 1989 - Dec. 1993: B.A. English
*BETWEEN DEGREES, Feb. 1994 - Aug. 1995: Full-time work as temporary administrative assistant, HR assistant, then inventory control clerk (all at same company)

Jeffrey, I recommend that you simplify the presentation of your work history so it’s quick and easy to see that you have what it takes to do the job you’re applying for.

Here’s what I suggest for your situation:
- Use a functional resume format.
- Go back to 1999 in your work history. See Dates… How Far Back to Go for an explanation of why I picked 1999.
- Under Education, don’t list the years when you got your degrees. Again, see Dates… How Far Back to Go for an explanation.
- Construct your work history section like this:

2004-present, Media Positions:
WABC News, Tampa, FL, 2006-present, Producer/News Writer (contractual)
WDEF TV, Albany, NY, 2004-06, News Producer/Writer

2002-2004, Support Positions:
Superior Training, Syracuse, NY, 2002-04, Customer Support
WDEF TV, Albany, NY, 2001-03, Studio Crew (part time)

1999-01, Selected Sales/Customer Service Positions:
Sears, Watertown, NY
Burke Copy Shop, Avon, NY

When you get to the interview, you’ll be asked to fill out an application form with all the dates (months and years) for each position you’ve held, and the dates when you got your degrees. That’s fine. By then you’ll meet with the employer in person, where you can demonstrate the personal traits that will make you a good employee, and you can answer questions that might arise about your work history.

By the way, if you don’t get a job before your current one ends, change “present” to 2006. That will be OK in the eyes of an employer for at least a few months into 2007.

To see how other folks have solved the problem of putting temp jobs on their resumes, see these sample resumes on my website.

Good luck with your job search!

Job Loungers, do you have a question? Email it to me and I’ll post your question and my answer here in The Job Lounge.

Or make a comment about this post by clicking the Comments link right below this post.


Anonymous said...

Susan --

Thank you for answering my question so thoroughly in today's posting! I had put a band-aid on my resume for last week, and came up with somethng that's not too far from your suggestion for an interview last week. (So far, I'm getting a lukewarm vibe from them).

But .. Now I'll take it a step further and group my work history as you recommend.

Thanks again for the great advice! It always helps to have a little nudge in the right direction when you're unsure!


Susan Ireland said...

You're very welcome, Jeffrey. Keep us posted on your job search project!