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Resume Tips for Freelancers

Free yourself, with a resume that’s equipped for freelance.

Say goodbye to being chained to the office and hello to being your own boss. More and more employees are swapping their 9-to-5s for the freedom of freelancing. Forbes recently reported that freelancers represent 35 percent of the workforce. Experts expect those numbers to continue growing.

Though freelancers may enjoy more freedom and the ability to choose their own clients, they still face many of the same challenges as other workers–but in larger quantity. Unemployed Americans only have to worry about finding the one job to sustain them. Freelancers face a different requirement. They must constantly search for new, higher paying gigs. Finding one job is difficult enough, but finding work to fill your empty calendar, well, that takes skill.

Resumes still play an integral part of the job search. Freelancers should continue to hone their primary branding document, but, keep in mind; there are subtle changes needed to make it work. Here are a few resume tips to tailor your resume for your freelance job search.

What format and design should I use?

Resumes come in various shapes and sizes. Some freelance designers created a brochure, detailing their abilities, experience and education. The creative options are limitless. Just remember, the more traditional resume formats are preferred by clients. If you feel you must create a unique piece of art to represent your innovative skills, be sure to include one of these two resume types.

Option 1: Chronological Resume.

Chronological resumes list all pertinent information in three to four basic sections – summary, experience, education and notable contributions. Organize the information in each section according to date, starting with most recent. An option is to include a subsection under experience to display their most notable clients on their freelance resume.

Option 2: Functional Resume.

Many freelancers have numerous skills and experience, spanning from the multitude of projects they are assigned. Functional resumes help organize these skills into easy to read sections. Rather than write a description for each job, group all similar descriptions into a bulleted list. Include the correlating experience directly under the bulleted list (i.e. company name, date and positions). You can organize lists by design, marketing, computer proficiency, etc.

Should I use the term “Freelancer” or “Independent Contractor?”

Many freelancers question whether they should use “Independent Contractor” or “Freelancer” as their position title. Don’t use either. Choose the position that bests fit the experience. Did you manage the company’s product launch? Marketing Manager or Branding Supervisor would be acceptable. Did your client bring you onboard to create eCommerce tools? You could list Lead eCommerce Technician or Sr. Backend Developer.

This doesn’t mean you should mislead potential clients. Never represent a project or contract as employment. Dishonesty, even if it is unintentional, leads to contract violations and lost trust. There are two basic tactics used to prevent misrepresenting a freelancing gig. Add a short phrase within the job description. An easier method is to include “Contract” within parentheses at the end of the title.

Where should I list my projects?

Once you step out into the freelance arena, the world stops thinking of you as a team member or employee. You now are an official business, selling services to the highest bidder. It’s time to put your best foot, or rather, projects forward. Don’t focus on including all your skills and abilities. Most potential clients assume you meet the entry-level criteria.

Maintain a running tally–using Excel or another spreadsheet software–of all clients and projects. Include a one to two-sentence description, dates and outcomes. Create different sheets for different types of projects (press releases, campaign launches, analytics, etc.). This will help you optimize your freelance resume down the road.  

Create an empty section in your resume entitled “Notable Clients and Projects.” Leave enough room for about three to five projects. Each time you meet with a new, potential client, list your most impressive projects as they apply to the new client’s needs. Keep in mind, name dropping doesn’t work well for hiring managers. But clients are more impressed with big names. List those first, even if the projects were smaller and less important.

Should I include an objective statement?

Never include an objective statement in your resume. Not only is this outdated and awkward, objective statements rarely work for freelance positions. Write a career summary or professional biography instead. Summaries are five to six-line paragraphs and detail your most important qualities. Start by selecting five to six of the most important contributions listed under experience. Rewrite the descriptions using hard and soft skills and keywords from the client’s website or job listing.

Freelancer resumes also can use this section as a “pitch method” to replace the outdated objective statement. This tactic forgoes the career summary and focuses more on the client’s needs. Remember, you’re a freelancer (aka business) that sells services. Tell a prospective client what service you will provide them; not just how awesome you are or how much you know. The Freelancer Union offers free advice and proposal templates to help you create a lasting impression.

It’s time to go beyond the resume.

Freelancers must remember to go beyond their resume. Treat your new career as a business. You’re not looking for one job. Rather, you are looking to make an impression in the industry and bring in more revenue. To do this, consider your brand identity. Social media is great–but Facebook and Twitter only take you so far. Consider these options to help market your freelance services.

Professional website. All freelancers must have a website to showcase your work. Building a strong, professional website doesn’t take long or cost thousands. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace offer freemium services and “what you see is what you get” editing.

Business social media tools. Facebook and Twitter are great for business. Don’t forget to take advantage of other tools. Pinterest and Instagram are the top social media platforms right now. Socially active businesses not only rank higher on Google and other search engines, they are considered more professional experienced. Posting to all those social media accounts is tedious. Buffer and Hootsuite offer freemium services, allowing users to post to multiple accounts at once.

Industry Blog. Companies have a love-hate relationship with blogs – those who understand how to blog love them; those who have no clue hate them. Don’t fall into the latter category. Learn to blog, like a professional. Freelancers with a blog are considered more experienced, professional and hold a higher esteem with clients.

Now, it’s time to put these freelance resume tips to the test. Then, see how well you did–let us review your resume for free.

Landing your dream job starts with the right plan.

Download your free action plan now to get the job you deserve.

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Landing your dream job starts with the right plan. Download your free action plan now to get the job you deserve.