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I have several short term temporary positions in my employment history (1-3 months general admin positions) that I undertook due to relocating (needed a job ASAP before finding a suitable permanent position) or because I had to leave a permanent position due to a health condition (needed a job ASAP because of paying rent!).

I have been self-employed for the past several years, but now looking to become employed again. The first job I am applying for want a complete employment history and I can't help but feel that putting it all down on paper will hurt my chances - I feel it would be easy to read it as someone who can't stick at a job/could be a waste of time, whereas I feel that the opposite is true in that it testifies that I am hardworking and employable.

In this instance, the job is with an educational establishment, and I believe that they want a full history as they need to make sure staff who could be working with children check out, which is fair enough. But how can I make this look best in this scenario, and in any resume I create?

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If there is something on your application that can be misinterpreted, e.g. many short-term jobs being misinterpreted as job hopping, then address it up front.

I would just lead with a sentence that explains this up front. Something like:

Having worked as a self-employed contractor for several years, I have fulfilled the following administration positions...

This happens all the time. On my CV I have a sentence explaining a short gap in employment history. If I didn't address that I took a 3 week holiday between 2 posts, then a recruiter's active imagination might kick in and fill in the gap with all kinds of speculation.

  • On the other hand, companies who hire recruiters that use their imaginations to divine the reason for a gap instead of gathering facts are probably places you don't want to work anyway. – Blrfl Jan 21 '16 at 13:15
  • But, Blrfl, recruiters have to sift through a collection of resumes that, if printed out, would make a stack waist-high. They don't have time to gather facts. Instead they take 30 seconds to decide which ones go in the "don't bother finish reading" pile. So the OP's resume has to make a good impression right away. – Shawn V. Wilson Jan 23 '16 at 23:38
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There may be perfectly valid reasons for having a lot of jobs within a short period. I would advise briefly listing the reasons for those short job stints right next to the dates on your résumé to avoid this obvious red flag.

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Explain yourself. You are right, in a CV table it may look bad if you have listed many short jobs. But what really matters is if you can convince the recruiter that there is no harm in your past career.

Adress the issue in the cover letter and try to market your many jobs as an advance over other canidates.

Because of XY I had to take some short term positions in the past. This taught me to adjust very quickly to new environments and forced me to learn in a rapid pace.

Don't leave the impression that you are ashamed of your work history. Be upfront about it, you are the best and everyone should know that.

Side note: If many of your positions were very similar or too minor to talk about, you may consider grouping them under a single entry in your CV:

Aug 2013 to Jan 2015: System Administrator for Company X, Y and Z.

If you do it this way you must be prepared to show exact informations about your work history if asked. Maybe also hint about that in the cover letter. They musn't get the impression that you want to hide something.

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You are correct at being concerned. The goal now is find some way to roll them up under another company or at least a category.

OPTION 1 - Temp Company

Are the temporary jobs from the same temp firm or consulting firm (or perhaps just two or three)?

If so, just list that company with begin and end dates, and highlight some successes working as a temp for that company. If this hiring institution requires every physical location you ever worked at through the temp company, then list them here with minimal information.

OPTION 2 - Your Company

You mention that you are self-employed. Do you have an actual legal company - like an LLC or something? If so, did you bill through your company for these temp jobs? If yes, then treat your own company like a consulting or temp company and do the same as Option 1.

OPTION 3: Temporary Employment Engagements

If these were all jobs that you found all by yourself, then you can make a separate category called "Temporary Employment Engagements" and list them under there.

The title makes it clear that these were intended from your point-of-view and the client's point-of-view to be temporary jobs.

Within this category you will highlight how you actively pursued temporary employment to assist you during your efforts at relocation because (this is important) you wanted to take your time looking for that ideal employer without using another company as a "lay over" company until you found the right job. Highlight that you'd be happy to provide references for any of them.

That will show that you are not a job hopper, but rather, you are conscientious with good references at each of these positions.

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