Temporary work, contract assignments and self employment are becoming more and more common. In a job market that lacks the security we’ve enjoyed in the past, job seekers are relying more and more on their own creativity and determination to make a living, and that’s something to highlight on your resume.

Very often the skills and experience gained in these positions are transferrable and relevant to other companies and industries. The key is in understanding the core skills sought by hiring companies and conveying how your assignments strengthened those skills in you.

These guidelines will help you represent your assignments on your resume and in interviews:

  • Use a single header: If you worked for a single staffing company but had several assignments, list the staffing company as your employer and each assignment (including significant accomplishments or contributions) as a bullet below the employer. This will also work for “Contractor” and “Self Employed”.
  • Customize: Most jobs are multi-faceted, so it makes sense to adjust your resume to highlight the aspects of your assignments that are most relevant to a prospective employer while providing an accurate and truthful representation.
  • Have confidence: Seeking employment that is outside of your area of expertise (and likely outside of your comfort zone), demonstrates resourcefulness and persistence that employers value. Hiring managers are aware of the difficult job market (it’s entirely possible that they’ve recently been there themselves), and will appreciate your determination.
  • Reflect: As your work experience changes and grows, take some time to reflect periodically on how you’ve grown personally and professionally. Have you acquired new skills? Overcome old barriers? Expanded your comfort zone? Be ready to discuss how this growth can benefit a prospective employer.

Has your career taken a different path than you expected? Has it worked to you benefit or have you found it frustrating? Post in the comments, and let’s talk about it!