How do I list contracting on my resume?

Specifically, I'm paid by company B (a staffing agency) to do work for company A. Company A is much more impressive than company B -- everyone locally will have heard of A and likely be at least mildly impressed. But they don't directly pay me -- they pay company B, who pay me. Company B also provides my benefits and so on. Is it appropriate to list company A and put my job title as "contractor"?

ETA: Specific concerns are a) taking up too much space detailing the situation (since in the US I'm told I can only have one page and I have a lot of skills), and b) letting potential employers know I've worked at a large, established company rather than giving them the impression I worked at a small startup (since the staffing agency has a name that sounds like it's in the industry I work in)

6 Answers 6


For classical Job Shopping (contract Engineering), the standard has always been to list the dates and the client, with a notation to indicate that it was a contract position.

For example, from my own resume:

Jan 1984-Oct 1987 (Under Contract To) General Dynamics / Fort Worth Division, Fort Worth TX.

Some people will list the contract firm's name in parentheses, instead of saying "under contract to". For example:

Jan 1984-Oct 1987 (Global Group) General Dynamics / Fort Worth Division, Fort Worth TX.

or MAYBE something like:

Jan 1984-Oct 1987 Global Group, Fort Worth Tx. Under contract to General Dynamics/Fort Worth Division.

With this form, direct positions appear without the parenthetical note, viz.

Mar 1983-Jan 1984 UTL Corporation, Dallas TX.

Classical Job Shoppers are well-known for having short-to-medium gaps in their history, if they were between jobs. This is considered perfectly normal for them. (If you are in this category, and you run into a hiring manager or a recruiter who doesn't understand this, RUN AWAY!) If you are a long-term employee of one firm, and they rent you out to various clients, and keep you on the payroll while you're "on the beach", you probably want to list them as your employer, and say something in the description about various assignments for various clients.


On resumes, I usually list the contracting company first, then the client company second.

For example, if I worked for "Bob's Bodyshop" as a contractor, and they placed me at "Big Shiny Corp", I usually put something like:

1/2011 to 12/2011 - Bob's Bodyshop / Big Shiny Corp.

I know many folks say "1 page!" but I find that one cannot trim a resume to one page and get any meaningful details across. One of my friends uses a functional resume, and his is 8 pages long. Mine is chronological, and I try to keep mine to 3 pages. We are both in our 50s.

  • 2
    Maybe I should ask about the "one page myth" in another question? Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 17:00
  • @Yamikuronue Absolutely. I have a contrary opinion to Tangurena on the one-page (double-sided) rule and I'd love to have a good place to exchange views.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 17:07
  • I have 30+ years of experience and a 2 page resume, anything more than that will get thrown in the trash or not read by most hiring officials.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 17:29
  • 4
    I also use a similar format to this: StartDate - EndDate: Consultant at BigCompany International (via Small Consulting Shop). I like to specifically call out that I was a consultant through another company because I find it easier when I'm hiring and checking references: "I see Mr. Smith worked for you at BigCompany International" (to the consulting firm) and "I see Mr. Smith was part of your consulting team from Small Consulting Shop" (to the Big Company).
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 17:51
  • 2
    My resume is 3 pages long. The first half page is a summary of skills/achievements. The next 2 are the most recent 5 years of experience with details on accomplishments. The last half is a summary list of previous experience with one line per job with a list of skills used/learned there. I can't think of a job/contract I've applied to in the last 3 years that didn't get at least an interview. Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 18:36

I do a very simple sub list under the consulting/contracting company that I work for and limit it to 1-3 bullet points of highlights about what I did for the client.

Sample contracting layout

Two important things to remember to protect yourself:

  1. Make sure to lay out your resume so that it's clear that you were a contractor and not employed by the clients. You don't want anyone claiming you lied on your resume.
  2. Get permission to list clients on your resume! Some contracting companies have rules about not publicly disclosing clients or clients contracts might have provisions restricting you from saying you did contract work for them.

I agree with @Tangurena's answer, for most contact jobs. One case I would also like to share is when you work contract to hire and you get hired. I have several of these on my resume and I show them like this:

Big Well-Known CompanyA - Aug 2005-Jan 2008 (Aug 2005-Dec 2005 - temporary hire working for Name of agency)

This gets several points across: It shows the total time I worked for the well-known company, and it lets the employer know that I was a temp-to-hire and I got hired, and it makes sure the HR reference check into my employment dates won't conflict with what I said on my resume.


If you are finding work for yourself or through recruitment agencies, I'd say list who you did the work for. However, if the staffing agency finds you the work and actually holds the contract with the "more impressive" company then that's a different situation.

In that case I'd say that I was employed by the staffing agency (company A) and I worked at Company B, Company C, etc, for these times with these responsibilities. That way your prospective employer can contact the right HR department for the relevant references etc.

  • I believe I'm in the situation you describe int he latter half of your post -- the staffing agency pays me and provides benefits. However, I do not plan to continue with them after this contract ends, so there'd only be one company listed. Won't that look strange? Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 16:12
  • @Yamikuronue - it's always better to be honest on your CV. If you lie, or even mislead (even unintentionally), it will get found out which could cost you your new job.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 16:18
  • I'm not trying to mislead anyone; I just don't want to give people the impression I don't have experience where I do or take up too much space (since I'm told in the US I can only have one page for a resume) Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 16:20
  • @Yamikuronue - I'm not saying you are doing it deliberately with the intention to deceive, just that it could be seen that way.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 16:21

In the US, when I have worked for contracting companies, they tend to dislike giving their competition credit. For that, I list the company where I did the work, my title and append " - Consultant". HR understands what that means usually. And as long as you make it clear you were working as a consultant (contractor, external, whatever their title for outside contractors is), few companies are going to care.

This is often different in Europe, or anywhere they prefer a more accurate CV. On a CV always list the company you actually employed by.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .