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The truth about temporary jobs on resumes: How to leverage them for success

Temporary jobs are often seen as a necessary evil, a means to an end, or a timid step towards a better career. Some people assume that listing temporary work experience on a resume may do more harm than good, suggesting a lack of stability, ambition, or competence. However, the reality is far from that.

Temporary jobs can be a valuable asset for job seekers at any stage of their career development. By gaining a wide range of experiences, skills, and networks, temporary workers can prove themselves to be versatile, adaptable, and proactive. Moreover, they can enhance their chances of getting hired by showcasing their temporary work experience in a strategic and compelling way.

If you’re considering taking a temporary job or wondering how to make the most of your existing temporary work experience, keep reading. This article will explore the key benefits, challenges, and strategies behind temporary jobs on resumes.

Reasons to take temporary jobs

Before diving into the benefits of temporary work experience, let’s first examine some of the reasons why people choose temporary jobs over permanent ones. Here are some common motivations:

  • To gain experience: Temporary jobs can provide a low-risk and high-reward way to acquire new skills, knowledge, and exposure. For instance, if you’re interested in a specific field or industry, you may take a temporary job to learn more about it, build a portfolio, or discover your passion.

  • To earn income: Temporary jobs can offer a flexible, seasonal, or short-term income stream that can help you make ends meet or save up for a big goal. For instance, if you’re a recent graduate, a stay-at-home parent, or a retiree, you may take a temporary job to supplement your finances or stay active.

  • To make new connections: Temporary jobs can introduce you to a diverse range of people, including employers, coworkers, clients, and mentors. For instance, if you’re looking to expand your network, gain referrals, or learn from experts, you may take a temporary job to meet more people.

  • To test the waters: Temporary jobs can allow you to explore different types of work, settings, and roles without committing to a long-term contract. For instance, if you’re unsure about your career path, want to venture outside your comfort zone, or need to fill a gap in-between jobs, you may take a temporary job to see what suits you.

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Benefits of temporary work experience

Now that we’ve seen some reasons why people take temporary jobs, let’s see why listing temporary work experience on a resume can be a smart move. Here are some key benefits:

  • Demonstrating adaptability, flexibility, and versatility: Temporary workers often need to adjust quickly to new environments, tasks, and expectations. By showing that you can handle diverse challenges, learn on the fly, and work well under pressure, you can signal to employers that you won’t be overwhelmed by the demands of the job.

  • Showcasing specialized skills or achievements: Temporary jobs can offer unique opportunities to develop or apply specific skills, such as project management, data analysis, or customer service. By highlighting how you excelled in these areas, you can differentiate yourself from other candidates and show employers how your expertise can add value to their organization.

  • Indicating a strong work ethic and dedication to professional growth: Temporary jobs can be demanding, fast-paced, and unpredictable. By demonstrating that you can handle multiple priorities, meet deadlines, and go above and beyond what is expected, you can prove your worth and your commitment to continuous learning and improvement.

Challenges of temporary work experience

Of course, temporary jobs do come with some challenges that job seekers should be aware of. Here are some common ones:

  • Gaps between assignments: Depending on the nature of temporary work, there may be periods of inactivity or uncertainty between assignments. This can create a perception that you’re not as committed or reliable as someone who has held a steady job for an extended period.

  • Lack of benefits: Temporary workers may not receive the same benefits as permanent employees, such as health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off. This can make temporary work less attractive to some people who prioritize stability, security, and perks.

  • Uncertainty about future prospects: Temporary jobs may not lead to permanent employment, and even if they do, the transition may not be seamless or immediate. This can create anxiety, doubt, or frustration about the long-term prospects of temporary work.

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To address these challenges, temporary workers can take several proactive steps, such as:

  • Networking: Temporary workers can leverage their connections to find new opportunities, build relationships with potential employers, and stay engaged with their industry or field. By keeping in touch with former coworkers, attending events or conferences, or joining online groups, temporary workers can expand their reach and stay top of mind.

  • Upskilling: Temporary workers can use the gaps between assignments to learn new skills, gain certifications, or improve their existing expertise. By investing in their training and development, temporary workers can enhance their marketability, demonstrate their value, and stay competitive in their field.

  • Seeking feedback from employers: Temporary workers can ask for feedback from their employers after each assignment to learn about their strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement. By using this feedback to adjust their approach, temporary workers can demonstrate their eagerness to learn and grow, and show their commitment to meeting the needs of their clients or employers.

Hiring managers’ perspectives

Despite the benefits and challenges of temporary work experience, some hiring managers may still have reservations about seeing temporary jobs on a resume. Here are some of the biases or assumptions they may have, and how job seekers can counter them:

  • Perceiving temporary workers as unreliable: To address this bias, job seekers should emphasize their track record of completing assignments on time, meeting or exceeding expectations, and receiving positive feedback from their employers.

  • Perceiving temporary workers as lacking commitment: To address this bias, job seekers should showcase their reasons for choosing temporary work, their willingness to learn and adapt, and their long-term career goals that align with the employer’s mission or vision.

  • Perceiving temporary workers as lacking advancement potential: To address this bias, job seekers should highlight their success stories or achievements during temporary assignments, and explain how they can apply their skills and experiences to similar or higher-level roles.

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Key takeaways

  • Temporary jobs can be a valuable asset for job seekers at any stage of their career development, offering diverse experiences, skills, and networks.
  • Listing temporary work experience on a resume can showcase adaptability, specialized skills, and dedication to professional growth, but it may also raise some challenges, such as gaps between assignments, lack of benefits, or uncertainty about future prospects.
  • To make the most of temporary work experience, job seekers should leverage their network, upskill themselves, seek feedback from employers, and showcase their strengths and achievements in a strategic and compelling way on their resume.


Q: Should I list all my temporary jobs on my resume?A: It depends on the relevance and recency of your temporary work experience, as well as the job requirements and expectations of the position you’re applying for. If your temporary jobs have equipped you with relevant skills, achievements, or networks that can enhance your candidacy, you should definitely include them on your resume.

Q: Can temporary jobs help me transition into a new career?A: Yes, because temporary jobs can give you a chance to explore different types of work, settings, and roles without committing to a long-term contract. If you’re interested in a new career, temporary jobs can be a way to test the waters, build your experience and networks, and demonstrate your transferable skills.

Q: How can I explain gaps between temporary assignments?A: You can explain gaps between temporary assignments by focusing on your activities during those periods, such as upskilling, networking, volunteering, freelancing, or pursuing relevant projects or hobbies. You can also emphasize how those activities have prepared you for the next assignment or role, and show how you’re ready to hit the ground running.

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