How to List Contract Work on a Resume (Guide + Examples)

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May 22, 2024
Edited by
Camille Trent
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • Listing contract work on your resume is a great way to highlight projects and achievements.
  • There are many ways to add contract work to your resume, but amending the job title with “contract” is standard. 
  • Formatting contract work on a resume is easy with Teal’s AI Resume Builder.

Maybe you’ve taken on temporary jobs to get by in today’s fluctuating market, or maybe you enjoy the freelance lifestyle. Either way, it’s common to have some contract work experience. The question is, should you add contract work to a resume?

Contract work is legitimate experience, so don’t forgo it on your resume. Just make sure you’re listing it correctly. In this article, you’ll learn how to put contract work on your resume in a way that emphasizes your flexibility, adaptability, professional skills, and achievements.

Struggling to land interviews with your resume? Get started with Teal’s AI Resume Builder for free.

What is contract work?

Contract work is short-term employment. These jobs have a defined work period. They may also have a defined end goal or set of duties to be performed. 

Companies hire contractors as outside employees. Contractors are paid based on a negotiated rate for the project or per hour. 

When you do contract work, you may have been called an independent contractor, a freelancer, or 1099 employee. 

Contract worker vs full-time employee

A full-time employee (FTE) works 40 hours per week for one employer, receives their benefits from the employer, and typically goes to the employer’s office. They can expect raises, promotions, and up-skilling from the same job. 

A contract worker works their own set of hours for one or multiple employers, depending on the contract type. They may work at an office or from home. They will typically build a work portfolio in order to uplevel their job title or pay grade. 

Because contractors are outside employees, these differences may apply:

  • Do not typically earn company benefits
  • Have to manage their own taxes
  • May have to purchase their own equipment 
  • Have flexible or set hours 

Types of contract work

Fixed-term contract

A contract made for a specified period of time. This contract has a start date and end date. As an independent contractor, you may receive some benefits similar to those of an employee during the duration of the contract period, but not all.  

For example, you may be hired to work 40 hours a week as a technical writer to help the IT team at a large company complete a project for a six-month period. 

These contracts may also be called “contract-to-hire” contracts. This means you start as a contract employee with the idea that the company may, depending on performance, hire you as a full-time employee once your original contract ends. 

Freelance contract

A contract made for a specified project. This contract should outline hours, project details, deliverables, salary, payment terms, etc. 

For example, you may be hired by an IT company to help their in-house team complete the code for a new application. You work for them until the application is complete.

If you work in this way, you are considered self-employed. This means it is your responsibility to pay your own NICs and tax contributions. 

Agency workers and temporary staff

A potential employer can hire temporary employees from an agency. As an agency worker, your contract and benefits are agreed upon and managed by the agency. 

Pros and cons of contract work

Freelancers and independent contractors are not entitled to the same rights as FTEs. For example, FTEs are entitled to:

  • Receiving the national minimum wage
  • Minimum level of paid holiday or maternity pay
  • Minimum length of rest breaks
  • Protection against unlawful discrimination
  • Maternity or paternity pay

As a trade-off, freelancers and contractors enjoy more flexibility over their pay and schedule. This may look like:

  • Higher hourly rate 
  • Flexible schedule 
  • Opportunity to try new things 

Why list contract work on your resume?

Whether you had just one stint with a contract job or you’ve managed a few contract roles under an agency, it’s important to show off this experience. Potential employers don’t look at it as inferior to permanent employment; in fact, it can be seen as a good thing for your career. Here’s why:

  • Showcases diverse experience: You learn a lot about various industries when moving from contract to contract which proves you're a versatile worker.
  • Demonstrates adaptability: Because contract workers don’t get the same onboarding as FTEs, you must adapt to various industries and environments quickly, which shows you’re a fast learner. 
  • Highlights specific skills or expertise: Because many contracts are project-based, they help you highlight specific achievements, which may be more appealing to hiring managers.
  • Shows initiative and ownership: You have to manage much of your own time and job progress when working on a contract basis, which shows you are self-motivated.

How to list contract work on your resume

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to list contract work on a resume.

First, decide on a listing method. The below examples are just that—examples, but you can choose a listing method based on the clearest way to arrange all your experience. 

The essential details to include are the company you worked for, the position you had in each contract, and the duration of each contract.

As a FTE at a staffing agency or consultancy

If you worked for an agency that sent you multiple clients or contracts, you can group them together under the agency. This order will look similar to a traditional FTE role and is easy for recruiters to read.

  1. List an employer. This can be the staffing agency.
  2. Optionally, add a blurb to provide clarity on the nature of the work. 
  3. List a job title. You may have a job title that was given to you or you may have to give yourself a standard job title.
  4. Add "contractor" or "consultant" at the end of your title if necessary. 
  5. List the dates of your contract.
  6. List your achievements.

Example of how to list staffing agency and contract work on resume
Listing multiple clients and achievements under one job title can help keep your experience uniform on a resume. 

As a full-time self-employed contractor

If you took on a lot of contract and freelance work for a number of months or years, consider creating your own firm (if you haven’t done so already) and listing your experience under that heading. This self-employment resume allows a large number of jobs to go underneath a single heading.

  1. Give your company a name such as [First Name] [Last Name] Consultancy.
  2. Add a short blurb describing the nature of your duties as a full-time contractor.
  3. List a job title per contract work or add the client name per contract.
  4. Under each contract or client, list the dates.
  5. List your achievements.
Example of how to list self employment contract work on my resume
List multiple job titles and dates under your own professional consultancy or agency if you’ve worked on many unique projects.

As a single contract position

If you’ve held a single contract position from a company while in between full-time jobs, placing this experience on your resume is easy. List the job as you would any other, but label the job title clearly with a modifier such as: 

  • Temporary 
  • Temp
  • Contract
Example of how to list regular contract based work on resume as a single contract position
Add “Contract” next to the job title to clearly state the nature of the work. 

Tips on how to highlight contract work achievements

If you had a lot of short-term contract work (six months or under), the hiring manager may worry you haven’t seen many projects from start to finish. Combat that worry by listing your achievements. Here are some quick tips on how to highlight achievements:

  • Use active verbs (e.g., Developed, Implemented, Managed, Designed, Optimized)
  • Add numbers to illustrate a point (e.g., Cut expenses by 10% within a fiscal year)
  • Discuss completed projects or accomplishments (e.g., Secured five major partnerships for a media campaign). 
  • If you’ve written a lot during your contract work, consider learning how to add publications to your resume.
  • Add a portfolio to your LinkedIn profile and include the link on your resume

example of how to list contract work on resume
Example of how to list contract work on a resume using Teal

For more tips on how to highlight your achievements, check out this guide on how to write achievements in your resume

How to format a contract job title on your resume

Since contract work often means multiple job titles under one employer, you may wonder how to list contract work. Traditionally, the resume is formatted by the employer, with the date range indented to the right of the resume. Since you may need to list multiple jobs under one employer, you can opt to list date ranges next to the job titles as well.

In Teal’s AI Resume Builder, formatting a resume’s date range doesn’t have to be a hassle. Teal’s Design Mode simplifies the process of properly listing work experience.

Toggle between showing dates based on company, based on position, or both. 

Teal offers multiple ways to format dates on a resume
Design Mode in Teal's AI Resume Builder offers multiple ways to format freelance work dates on a resume

Common mistakes to avoid when listing contract work on your resume

The key to a clean, enticing resume is the formatting. Focus on lumping your work together under certain employers or job titles so that a recruiter can easily see what you do within a matter of seconds. 

Here are the biggest mistakes in listing contract work:

  • Not being consistent: Use the same format throughout your resume. If you call your contract work “temp” or “contract," use that same terminology throughout. 
  • Including irrelevant information: You don’t need to include all your contract work. Tailor your resume to the job. 
  • Having resume gaps: Having a gap on your resume can hurt your chances of getting an interview, so utilize contract work to your advantage. Include any freelance work on your resume to help fill up a gap in your employment history. 

Contract work matters 

Contract work is a great way to fill gaps on your resume, try out new work duties, enjoy a flexible schedule, and more. Although, it does veer away from the most traditional form of full-time employment. That’s why formatting the resume in a way that highlights how much you’ve contributed while under contracts is the key to capturing hiring managers’ attention. 

Teal's Resume Builder can simplify the process for you. Add your various contract experience in a matter of seconds, utilize different methods for formatting your experience, and quickly tailor your own resume just for each job application–getting you closer to the role of your dreams.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you put a few temporary or contract positions on a resume?

You can add "temporary," "temp," or "contract" next to the job title in the Work Experience section of your resume when adding contract work.

Does contract work look good on a resume?

It can showcase resourcefulness, flexibility, and adaptability. If you have relevant contract experience, it's worth including on your resume.

Does contract work look bad on a resume?

As long as the work and skills are relevant, it won’t look bad on a resume. It can be helpful to explain the nature of the contract work and list your achievements there.

How do you add that you are working for a new contract at the same job on your resume?

If the duties are the same and the contract has been extended, you can keep both contracts under the same job title. If the nature of the work changed, list them as two separate job titles, including the date ranges, under the same employer.

How do you mention a big name company on a resume when you were a contractor?

Unless you were hired through a staffing agency and signed a contract with anonymity clauses for customers, you can include the big name company as your employer and add “contractor” or “contract - Staffing Agency” for clarity.

Kaleena Stroud

Kaleena is a freelance copywriter enamored with helping people catapult their careers. Originally from California, she's currently based out of Barcelona, Spain. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her picnicking by the sea with her family.

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