Are you struggling to write your freelance work on your CV? Well you're in luck! This article walks you through the whys, the dos and the don'ts. Also includes bonus downloadable examples!
Are you wondering how to list your freelance work on your résumé? Your life, and your résumé, can get a bit messy (yet fun) when you work as a freelancer.
I think I last updated my résumé about, er, two year ago (cue flushed cheeks). I just haven’t needed to! But if you want to apply for a job at a company or a prospective client is asking for your résumé, I’m going to help you out. I even updated my résumé now, so I can give you an example below.
Should you include self-employment and list freelance work on your résumé? Yes, of course you should. Self-employment is great to add to your résumé, especially if you have some gaps in your work history. Mentioning freelance jobs shows that you are entrepreneurial, motivated, proactive, skilful, and that you have experience.
There are different ways you can add your freelance work to your résumé. You can either write a chronological résumé or a functional one and focus more on your achievements. You can write a ‘traditional’ résumé or be more creative and really showcase your skills (especially important if you’re a designer). Each way has its own pros and cons. Choose one that feels right for you.
An important and fun step in your freelance career is coming up with a business name. It can be something creative or you can use your own name and just add “Freelance [insert what you do]”. Listing your freelance jobs under this name makes your résumé look more consistent. It matches the format of past work you’ve done for other companies.
List your company as you would any other company and mention quantifiable results. Even if you’ve freelanced while holding a regular job, you can add your freelance work to your résumé. You might need to explain in the interview how you were able to find the time to do your freelance work (especially if your regular job was full-time) but you can always say that you’re a workaholic.
If you have a couple of long-term freelance jobs with big companies, you can list them chronologically just like you do other jobs. It makes them stand out more than the first method.
If you do a lot of interim work, you can list your freelance jobs as projects. This makes every separate assignment stand out better. It doesn’t have to be chronological. You can start with the most important projects and work your way down.
Have you done some freelancing work here and there while holding a normal job? If it doesn’t make sense to include your freelance work in a chronological list with your regular jobs, you can also put your freelance gigs in a special, standalone section. You can name it “Freelance [insert job title” or “[insert job title] Consultant”.
While there are numerous ways to design and write a résumé, the most important thing is that your résumé captures the reader’s interest. Hiring managers spend no more than a few seconds per résumé before they either throw it in the trash or save it for later. This means that your résumé needs to stand out.
Do include a short bio and a summary of your servicesA short bio and a summary of your services makes it easy for the reader to see what your capable of. You can add a bit of personality to the bio as well, depending on the job you’re applying for.
Do mention any big organisations you’ve worked forA big name always catches attention. Worked for a large corporation? Mention your most important clients and include a link to the work you’ve done for them.
Do learn to be brutal and cut out the crapA résumé should be short (max 1 page) and compact. It should only include relevant stuff. It might be difficult to make something stand out if you have done a lot of interesting jobs. In that case, highlight important projects or skills by using bullet points. Only include freelance work if it gives a boost to your résumé.
Don’t use the same words as the job descriptionIs the company looking for an “independent, proactive candidate with a strong skill-set”? Then don’t say that you’re the perfect candidate because you are independent, proactive and you have a lot of skills. Provide examples of why you are independent and proactive. Your freelance work, for example, shows that you are independent and proactive! Use that.
Don’t use negative languageBe careful of using words that might sound negative, even if you use them to say something positive. Words like “aggressive”, “problem” or “stubborn” have a negative connotation to them. This makes you look bad. Even if you say something like: “solved a stubborn internal problem”. It is better to say: “created a method to improve company communication”.
Don’t obsess about the designUnless you are a designer by trade, forget about creating an amazing layout. It’s more important to focus on the content and the words than the design. Make sure the right things stand out, and that your résumé is clean and easy to read. Better to have a bit of space on the page than to squish it all in. Another option is to pay someone to design your résumé for you. Or use an online tool like Canva.com.
I’ve updated my résumé so I can give you a real example. I’ve chosen to present my freelance work and skills under my business name, and mention some of my clients. This is only half of my résumé. You can also include your volunteering work, interests, certifications and other relevant info if you think it’s valuable.Download PDFDownload for WordView on Google Docs