Incorporating freelance work on a resume can seem… well, complicated.
After all, just because you’ve been working for yourself doesn’t mean you haven’t been working. You know better than anyone else how qualified you are and how your freelance experience has helped mold your skills and talents.
But how do you mix in your freelance work with everything else on your resume? And is listing freelance work on a resume even necessary to land you your next position or freelance job?
In actuality, failing to include freelance work on your resume might actually jeopardize your chances of standing out.
Not every standard desk job can teach you the hustle, grit, independence, and self-discipline needed to be a successful freelancer and you want to let your future employer see that.
Easier said than done, right?
To help, I’ll explain why listing freelance work on your resume is a really great idea. And then I’ll break down what to include when listing freelance work in your resume and how to easily structure it to highlight what you’ve accomplished.
Freelance work is work, right? You may have been self employed, but that doesn’t mean the work you’ve done is any less valuable, freelancing full time is not easy and it’s just as important to include your freelance work on your resume.
Plus, if you’ve been freelancing in-between jobs, listing your freelance work can show you didn’t have an actual gap in employment. Taking on freelance work in-between jobs shows employers the you…
Your resume should show chronological employment, and freelance work can help fill in those spaces on your resume.
If you’ve been freelancing on the side of your day job, listing freelance work shows that you take opportunities to grow outside of your position and that you put in extra work to gain more experience. You use your time both in and out of the office to excel professionally.
Now, all of these reasons probably resonate with you if you’ve been doing freelance jobs that are clearly relevant to your desired position.
But what if the freelance work you’ve been doing doesn’t necessarily fall in line with the work you’re hoping to obtain?
There is still immense value in the freelance work you’ve done regardless of the industry.
If the type of work you’ve done doesn’t seem to fit exactly in line with the job listing, try looking at your work through a different lens.
Consider the business side of your freelance work. What soft skills did you obtain or improve through your work? Showcasing what you were able to learn through your freelance work (even if the work itself wasn’t relevant) can score you major points on your resume.
Adding freelance work to your resume is slightly different from listing any other position. Your employer, after all, is yourself.
There are three common ways experts advise listing freelance jobs on your resume:
Our philosophy is that if it adds value to your resume, include it.
But sending a 10-page resumé to an employer is probably not a great idea.
So go ahead and group together smaller, less-significant projects if it makes sense, just be sure to leave space to let the notable work shine.
Once you’ve picked which work to showcase, your freelance listings should feature all relevant information including:
This may all seem straightforward, but let us break down what to include in each category and what to leave out. Below, we’ll share some simple Dos and Don’ts for each piece of information.
Including freelance work on your resume gives you just another opportunity to promote yourself, include whatever relevant information that will do just that.
The “plug and play” model you’re used to when updating a traditional resume won’t exactly work for freelance work.
To show you what we mean, we’ve included examples to help illustrate how to feature your freelance work to look just as professional and impactful as other positions on your resume.
Traditionally you’d list out each job this way: Employer, Title, Years Worked, Tasks/Success
Bananas Inc., 2003-2008
When listing freelance work on your resume, however, you’ll want to change the structure to fit your freelance work. Try instead: Client name, Main Duties (copywriting, etc), Dates, Skills/Results
Orange Haven 10/1/2019-12/30/2020
Freelance Marketing Copywriter
Now let’s go through some real-life examples.
What better way is there to learn what (and what not) to do when listing freelance work on your resumé than to take a look at some actual examples from freelancers?
First, here’s an example that doesn’t quite work:
This resume tried to copy the same structure for their freelance work as their other positions which is close, but misses the mark in a few places.
We’d remove the “self employed” section as it’s already implied when you add “freelance” in your description. They told us exactly what they did, but left out the impact and results of the work they did which would come across much stronger.
On the other hand, here’s an example that does work:
Alright, this reference to freelance work on a resume really works. Notice, you don’t immediately recognize that they’ve included freelance work at all, because instead of highlighting their work situation, they’ve featured their great experience.
We’d even argue this person could have left off “FREELANCE” from the job title and this would have been honest and powerful. Your job status doesn’t matter as much as the work that you completed and results you achieved.
Instead of following the same structure for traditional positions they swapped out the traditional employer placement for the client name, referenced that they were in a contributing freelance position, and most importantly showcased what difference their work made to the client.
This feels relevant and impressive as opposed to just just filling up the space.
It’s a no brainer.
Adding freelance work to your resume will only help an employer understand your value. With just a few tweaks you can incorporate your freelance work and stand out from other applicants and even grow your freelance clientele.
Follow the structure we mentioned above and consider what you’ve done for your client. You’ll be surprised how much value you’ll add by showing that you’ve not only worked for yourself, but you’ve been successful in doing it.
Not everyone can say that and it’s worth bragging about on a resumé.
Show off what you’ve done. Your freelance work only makes you that much more versatile as a future employee.
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