How to List Freelance Jobs on a Resume
Whether you stay in the freelance game for the rest of your professional life or go back to corporate America for those sweet benefits, learning how to list your freelance jobs on your resume is essential. If you stay independent, you need to showcase your skills to prospective clients; if you return to the office, you need to be able to show that you're a businessperson, not unemployed.
How to List Freelance Jobs on a Resume
The good news is that organizing your freelance jobs is simple, once you know how.
Essentially, you're writing a functional resume, concentrating on your skills and achievements, rather than a chronological resume, which provides your work history in chronological order, starting with your most recent job.
Tailor Your Resume to the Prospective Client or Job
Writing a freelance resume can be quite liberating because the focus is on what you've done and what you can do, not on where you went to school or whether your career has proceeded in an orderly fashion from point A to point B. Your clients or employers will be hiring you to make something happen; your goal is to show them that you can do that, preferably as quickly as possible.
According to an eye-tracking study by The Ladders, hiring managers to spend approximately six seconds looking at a resume before moving it to the "yes" or "no" pile; you want to make those six seconds count. This means tailoring your resume to the client or company you're hoping to impress, and taking out anything that doesn't relate to the job at hand.
Is it a pain to have to make multiple resumes for multiple jobs? Absolutely. But it's worth it. Making a targeted resume shows the hiring manager only what you want them to see. You'll make a much better impression if you take the time to create a version that speaks to their needs.
Include a Separate Section for Skills
Because what you can do for the client or employer is the main thing you're trying to express, it makes sense to include a separate section for skills and certifications.
If you know an in-demand software program or programming language, have a prized certification in the field, or years of experience doing something that takes time to learn how to do, this is the section in which to brag a little.
The usual caveats apply: don't claim knowledge that just about everyone has, like internet literacy or Microsoft Office, and don't claim expert-level familiarity with something you don't really know how to do.
Use Action Words, Keywords – and Dollar Signs
Return to elementary school and embrace those verbs. Action words, from absorb and arbitrate to utilize, yield, and won, show that you're a person who gets things done. Resume keywords are also important, especially if you're applying online.
Many companies rely on an Applicant Tracking System to sort and screen resumes before they ever get to a human; using keywords will help you get past the robots and to an actual person. Analyzing the job listing will help you figure out which keywords to target.
Finally, remember that it all comes down to money, even if you're a creative who never even speaks to the sales folks or accounting department. If you can demonstrate that you boosted a client's or employer's earnings, even indirectly, you're more likely to get that first call.
Organize Your Experience With Subheads
It's not uncommon for freelancers to have lots of varied kinds of experience. While weeding out the unrelated gigs is important, even your pared-down resume will probably demonstrate that you can wear a lot of different hats. That's a bonus if you present it in the right way.
Employers love to see that you can multitask and see things from different perspectives, as long as it doesn't look like you're a bad fit for the role or apt to jump ship for something else at the first opportunity.
The best way to show the diversity of your talents while still maintaining an orderly narrative is to break up your experience with subheads. For example, as a freelance writer and editor, my own resume contains headings for writing, copyediting, and editorial management.
Examples of How to List Freelance Jobs on a Resume
With all this in mind, let's look at a few examples of how to present your jobs so that clients and hiring managers can see why you're the best person to hire, whether it's for a contract job or a permanent position.
- ABC Marketing (2012 – Present)
Secured a blue verified badge for the agency's Twitter feed by creating funny, targeted, retweetable tweets in support of its popular "Who's Bob?" ad campaign. Clients included Crunchy Potato Chips, Alpha Office Furniture, and E-Z Mortgage.
- Jones Real Estate (2007 - 2013)
Led a team of five agents to record-breaking sales. Brainstormed new campaigns to increase client base by 15 percent in the first year. Agent of the Year 2012 and 2013.
- Nerdlets Magazine (2010 – Present)
Founded this award-winning tech blog. Manage a staff of up to 20 contributors, editing, budgeting, proofing, and perfecting a variety of columns and features, from the highly technical to the humorously geeky.