Much of the cautionary advice about presenting temporary employment on your resume suggests that it may raise a red flag to employers, or brand you as unreliable. However, freelancing, contracting and other short-term work do not have to show you in an unfavorable light.
Here are some suggestions:
1) Set up an overarching business.
If you’ve done contract work for months at a time with a few breaks in the action before moving on to another position with a different client or company, don’t worry about specifying exact dates. Present them under a heading that represents the kind of work you’ve done, using an umbrella term for your accomplishments. (Production assistant services, Creative services, Public relations, Educational consulting, etc.) The ebb and flow of any business cycle in a company is not unlike the start and stop of work for an individual. You continue to be the keeper of your talents between jobs, so keep the focus on how well you’ve done the work while you had it.
2) Consider a functional resume format.
Evaluate the work you’ve done in terms of how each assignment fits the overall goal of your career path. Then, structure your resume so that your areas of expertise are demonstrated in specific skill areas, for example: design, process improvement, project coordination, event planning, etc. In this way, the emphasis is not on the place and frequency of the time you spent working, but on how your skills were developed and used.
3) Say you freelance.
There is nothing wrong in admitting that your employment has been through referrals, staffing agencies, or other temporary arrangements. The huge variability in how people find work is becoming the norm, now more than ever. As long as you have characterized your talents and accomplishments accurately per each experience in using them, your ability to be seen as a viable candidate should not be hampered.
A final note: Sometimes omitting a short-term job from your resume is the right thing to do if its inclusion would not make a strong case for the position you are applying for. There are often legitimate reasons why a job is cut short on either the employee or employer side of the equation. It is vital to remember the purpose of a resume is to present the strength of your candidacy, and to prove you meet the requirements for the job.