There's one easy way to spot temps looking for permanent work: They're the ones sitting in the coffeehouses during their free time, working on their resumes. And whatever skills you learn as a temp, the most important talent you'll ever develop is resume-writing. It's a temps' lifeline to a stronger career.
With that in mind, here are five tips all temps should know when they're crafting their resumes:
Choose a resume that fits your situation. Focus on the skills relevant the job you're hoping to get. If your employment history is long, don't be afraid to emphasize the jobs you've had that might look better to a potential employer. Be sure to focus on the skills you've used that you might find yourself using again. And change the format to reflect your career goals: A "functional" resume, that emphasizes skills and qualifications, is better for temps looking to change fields. A traditional chronological resume works well if you're just looking to move up in your field.
Make it stand out. Temps don't remain temps if their resumes are eye-catching. Try making a headline out of your name, with a "title" following it, like "Jane Smith, Office Manager," or "William Johnson, Customer Service Professional." Organize your format with lots of white space, emphasizing your name and keeping your job titles easy to scan. HR reps like a resume that does their work for them.
It's a resume. It's not Russian literature. Let this be your guiding principle: A resume that's more than one page will get thrown out. But go a step further than that. Don't fill a single page with blocks and blocks of 11-point text. Leave some of the more important aspects of your career history out, if need be. And if you're feeling really ambitious, you can craft multiple resumes for multiple situations, or have a "master resume" document that you can cut and paste from to build a new resume on the quick. Be versatile, and remember that less is more.
Remember: All words have power, but some have more power than others. Look up a list of "power verbs" on the Internet, and don't be afraid to use them. In writing, it's not the adjectives and adverbs that carry descriptive power -- it's the nouns and verbs. Words like "generated," "optimized," "streamlined," and "developed" say a lot about the person doing them. Let your verbs tell the story of what a valuable employee you are.
Put yourself in the HR rep's shoes. Imagine if it was your job to find the best candidate for the job you're looking for. What would you look for? What would catch your eye when it came time to make the final decision? And after you found the first thing you were looking for... what would the second thing be? What would the final thing be? (Hint: The final thing is contact information. Make sure yours is nice and prominent. Otherwise you may lose the job because an HR rep can't find out how to get in touch with you.