Got gigs? How to list contract work on your résumé

Featuring independent recruiter Beth A. Berk, CPA, CGMA

Video transcript:

If you’ve worked on a lot of assignments, or what they call gig assignments, what I would suggest is, depending on how many you’ve had to date, you may want to consider just putting it in the chronological place on your résumé that it belongs. So for instance, if you are working at a current job and you had your first gig recently and it may still go on and you may pick up other assignments, I would suggest that you put today’s year, say 2017, through present and then list out the type of assignments you are working on, how long they last for, what is the end result, what skills you’re gaining, potentially, if you are able to note who the employer is, and also note how you’re being paid. So if you are an independent contractor you should state as such “independent contract assignments including” and then list out the various assignments. And if you have been doing it for quite a while and it started several years ago and you’ve had other jobs since then, I would suggest you put it where you think it’s most appropriate on the résumé, because depending on whether you have a one- or two-page résumé, if you put it where it first started and that was on Page 2, somebody may not see that right away, and I think it’s really important to include that in a place on the résumé and maybe even state in the summary that you currently work on as-needed assignments outside of the business day and also include how long the assignments last for and when you tend to do them.

Some employers may view that as a conflict of interest, that you might be taking the calls and the texting and emailing during the course of the business day on their dime, so to speak, and you also have to understand the policies of the companies that you are working with, if it’s a full-time job. Many companies do have contracts or employee manuals that prohibit working on the side outside of the company you are working for, or they may be restrictive as to the type of work they’ll let you do, they need you to disclose it, and sometimes you may not know about that until you arrive on your first day at work and maybe you just quit one job to go doing this new one. So obviously if it’s not on your résumé that could be a problem, so definitely make it very visible on your résumé.

I’ve seen on many résumés in the last couple of years career seekers that have done a lot of different assignments through either on their own or through temporary agencies, what one would call a gig, and the reason they put on their résumé as to why is to gain certain skills. So in theory, they deliberately chose not to seek out one job when maybe they didn’t gain a broad set of skills, or they are trying to learn about different aspects of the accounting profession. Whether they do audit, tax, financial reporting, budgeting, I mean there are many aspects of an accounting role these days in companies, including data analytics, which is a big deal as well for the larger companies. So if that has been your goal to do that deliberately, I would state such on your résumé, maybe write a sentence or two in that time frame when you did all these gigs indicating that you chose to seek out various assignments to gain skills that you can now apply to the next job.

And I think if you sell it correctly and explain it, versus just leaving it kind of hodgepodge and not explaining who you work for, don’t mislead and put down the name of the client that you actually work for versus the temp agency, or if you came in as an independent contractor, I think a good employer will view the skills that you have gained, if it’s the appropriate set of skills for that job, as a positive versus a negative. However, you also have to sell them, to say “I am going to stick around,” versus “I am not just using you to come and gain that next skill and stay for six months to a year.” At the end of the day if you do keep hopping around you are ultimately not going to get a good job because unless you are going for another contract assignment, which has become more popular, and/or it might be a job that the client has a difficult time filling and it may not be the most exciting job or the pay may not be great or the environment may have a lot of turnover, maybe it’s a tough boss to work for. So do open your eyes when you interview as well to make sure if you are seeking this out for the long term that it’s really the right fit for you as well.

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