When it comes to building your resume or CV, you may wonder if including freelance work is a good idea. You might be concerned that potential employers will view it negatively or question your commitment to traditional employment.
But you should put your freelance work on your resume!
Freelance work can actually be a valuable addition to your resume if you present it in the right way. Below, I’ll go through some of the dos and don’ts of adding self-employment experience to your CV.
Does Freelance Work Look Bad On A Resume?
Freelance work does not typically look bad on a resume. One of the key advantages of including freelance work on your resume is the opportunity to showcase your transferable skills. As a freelancer, you’ve likely taken on various projects and worn many hats.
Whether you were managing client relationships, meeting tight deadlines, or juggling multiple assignments, these experiences have equipped you with valuable skills that can benefit any employer.
Instead of simply listing your freelance gigs, focus on the specific skills you gained and the results you achieved. For example, if you worked as a freelance graphic designer, mention how you improved brand visibility for your clients or how you consistently met or exceeded project expectations.
By highlighting these accomplishments, you demonstrate your ability to deliver results and add value to a potential employer. However, if the specifics of the work you did as a freelancer are relevant to the job you’re applying for, definitely talk about the specifics!
Emphasize Your Adaptability
Freelancers often face diverse challenges and work with different clients in various industries. This experience shows that you are adaptable and can quickly learn new skills or adjust to different work environments. Employers value this flexibility, especially in today’s rapidly changing job market.
When describing your freelance work, emphasize your ability to adapt to different project requirements, work independently, and collaborate effectively with clients and teams.
Highlight specific instances where you successfully tackled unfamiliar tasks or navigated complex situations. This will demonstrate your resourcefulness and your capacity to thrive in different work settings.
Showcase Your Entrepreneurial Spirit
Including freelance work on your resume can also demonstrate your entrepreneurial spirit. Freelancers are essentially small business owners, responsible for marketing their services, managing their finances, and maintaining client relationships.
This experience can be highly attractive to employers, as it showcases your initiative, self-motivation, and your ability to take ownership of your work.
When discussing your freelance work, highlight your entrepreneurial achievements.
- Did you successfully grow your client base?
- Did you implement effective marketing strategies to promote your services?
- Did you manage your finances and ensure profitability?
These accomplishments reflect your business acumen and your capacity to drive results, which are valuable assets in any work environment.
Addressing Potential Concerns
Now, let’s address the concern that some employers may view freelance work negatively. While it’s true that certain companies might prefer candidates with traditional employment backgrounds, many others recognize the unique value freelancers bring to the table.
To mitigate any potential negative assumptions, consider framing your freelance work as a series of successful projects or engagements. Instead of using terms like ‘self-employed’ or ‘freelancer,’ focus on the specific outcomes and experiences you gained from each assignment. By doing this, you shift the focus away from the freelance label and towards the valuable skills and accomplishments you acquired.
In addition, make sure your resume reflects a balanced mix of freelance and traditional employment experiences (if you have them). This will demonstrate your ability to thrive in different work settings and reassure potential employers that you are open to both freelance and permanent positions.
How To List Freelance Work On Your Resume
When it comes to listing freelance work on your resume, it’s important to present it in a clear and organized manner. Below are some tips to help you effectively showcase your freelance experience on your CV.
Create A Separate Section
Dedicate a distinct section on your resume specifically for freelance work. This will ensure that it stands out and allows potential employers to easily identify your freelance experience.
Use A Descriptive Title
Give your freelance section a clear and concise title, such as ‘Freelance Experience’ or ‘Independent Contractor Work.’ This immediately informs the employer about the nature of your work.
Include Relevant Details
For each freelance position, provide the following information:
- Job Title / Project Description: Clearly state the title or describe the project you worked on. Be specific and concise.
- Client / Company Name: Mention the name of the client or company you worked for. If confidentiality agreements prevent you from disclosing certain details, you can just mention the industry instead.
- Duration: Specify the time period during which you worked on the project. Include months and years to provide a clear timeline.
- Key Responsibilities: Outline the main tasks and responsibilities you undertook as a freelancer. Focus on the skills and achievements that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for.
- Achievements & Results: Highlight any notable accomplishments or results you achieved during your freelance work. Did you exceed client expectations, complete projects ahead of schedule, or receive positive feedback? Quantify your achievements whenever possible.
Show Industry Relevance
If the freelance work is in a different industry than the job you’re currently applying for, try to highlight transferable skills or industry-specific knowledge that can be valuable in your target role. This helps the employer see the relevance of your freelance experience.
Use Action Verbs
Start each bullet point with a strong action verb to describe your responsibilities and achievements. Action verbs like managed, developed, implemented, or collaborated make your resume more engaging.
Ensure that the formatting and structure of your freelance work section aligns with the rest of your resume. Consistency in font, bullet points, and overall design enhances the readability and professionalism of your resume.
How Not To List Freelance Work On Your CV
A common mistake is to oversimplify your freelance work by using generic terms like ‘freelancer’ or ‘self-employed’ without providing any specific details. This doesn’t give potential employers a clear understanding of the nature of your work or the skills you’ve gained. Instead, be specific and provide relevant details about your freelance projects.
Using vague job titles like ‘Consultant’ or ‘Contractor’ without elaborating on your specific responsibilities can also be confusing for employers. Clearly state the type of work you did or the specific projects you undertook. For example, instead of saying ‘Freelance Writer,’ you can specify ‘Content Writer for XYZ Company’s Blog.’
Don’t Neglect Your Achievements
It’s essential to highlight the results and achievements you accomplished during your freelance work. Avoid simply listing your responsibilities without providing any context or outcomes. Use quantifiable metrics, such as increased website traffic, client satisfaction ratings, or successful project completion rates, to demonstrate the impact of your work.
Avoid Listing Irrelevant Freelance Work
If you have a long history of freelance work, it’s crucial to prioritize and select the most relevant projects to include on your CV, just as you would with regular work experience or your education.
Listing every single freelance gig can clutter your CV and dilute the impact of your more significant experiences. Focus on the projects that align with the job you’re applying for and showcase your most relevant skills.
Avoid Inconsistent Formatting
Consistency is key when it comes to formatting your resume. Ensure that the structure, font, and bullet points in your freelance work section match the rest of your resume. Inconsistent formatting can make it appear unprofessional and disjointed.
Freelance Resume/CV Examples
Freelance Graphic Designer
Summary: Talented and versatile freelance graphic designer with 5+ years of experience delivering creative solutions for a diverse range of clients. Proven track record of designing impactful visuals and collaborating effectively on a variety of projects. Strong proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite and a keen eye for detail.
Freelance Graphic Designer (2018-Present)
- Collaborated with clients to understand their design needs and develop creative concepts.
- Created visually compelling designs for print and digital media, including logos, brochures, social media graphics, and website layouts.
- Implemented client feedback to ensure the final product met their expectations and brand guidelines.
- Managed multiple projects simultaneously, meeting tight deadlines and delivering high-quality work.
- Developed a new brand identity for XYZ Company, resulting in a 20% increase in brand recognition.
- Designed an eye-catching marketing campaign that led to a 30% boost in website traffic and customer engagement.
- Received positive client feedback for exceptional communication and ability to translate their vision into captivating designs.
Freelance Web Developer (2016-2018)
- Built and customized websites for small businesses and entrepreneurs, focusing on user experience and functionality.
- Conducted thorough testing to ensure cross-browser compatibility and optimal performance.
- Collaborated with clients to implement their desired features and functionalities.
- Created an e-commerce website for ABC Boutique, resulting in a 40% increase in online sales within the first quarter.
- Optimized website loading speed, resulting in a 50% decrease in bounce rate and improved user experience.
- Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign)
- User Experience (UX) Design
- Branding and Identity Design
- Project Management
Freelance Writer & Content Strategist
Summary: Experienced freelance writer and content strategist with a passion for crafting engaging and informative content. Proven ability to deliver high-quality articles, blog posts, and marketing materials across various industries. Strong research skills, impeccable grammar, and a knack for storytelling.
Freelance Writer (2017-Present)
- Conducted in-depth research on assigned topics to create well-researched and informative articles for online publications.
- Developed engaging blog posts and web content optimized for SEO, driving organic traffic and improving search rankings.
- Collaborated with clients to understand their target audience and brand voice, ensuring content aligned with their goals.
- Edited and proofread content to maintain high standards of grammar, style, and readability.
- Published articles in reputable online publications such as XYZ Magazine and ABC Blog, reaching a combined readership of over 100,000 people.
- Increased organic traffic to client websites by 50% through strategic content optimization and keyword research.
- Developed an email marketing campaign that resulted in a 25% increase in subscriber engagement and conversion rates.
Freelance Content Strategist (2015-2017)
- Conducted content audits and developed comprehensive content strategies for clients to improve their online presence.
- Created content calendars and editorial plans, coordinating with writers and designers to execute the strategy effectively.
- Implemented SEO best practices to optimize content for search engines and increase organic visibility.
- Monitored content performance using analytics tools, providing insights and recommendations for ongoing improvements.
- Developed a content strategy for a B2B SaaS company, leading to a 40% increase in website traffic and lead generation.
- Collaborated with a healthcare startup to create a thought leadership blog that established them as industry experts and generated valuable leads.
- Content Writing and Editing
- SEO and Keyword Research
- Content Strategy Development
- Social Media Management
- Project Coordination
You Should Include Your Freelance Experience On Your Resume/CV
Hopefully it’s clear that including your freelancing experience on your resume is a good idea! However, it’s all about presenting it in the right way. Focus on your skills and achievements and ensure it’s all relevant to the roles you’re applying for!
Interested in getting a job while still being self-employed on the side? Check out our guide to freelancing while working full-time.