If you’re a freelancer, like me, you know it has major benefits. Working from home, making your own hours, and choosing your own clients, to name a few. You also know it has major stress points.
One of the biggest stress points is constantly looking for new clients to keep your business growing. As freelancers, we’re essentially both employed and unemployed constantly. So, like any (semi)unemployed person, you need a killer resume.
My gift to you, the brave souls who have quite literally made a career out of job searching, is The Freelancer’s Resume Writing Guide.
What is different about a freelancer resume?
The easiest way to answer this question is to think of the purpose of a full-time employment resume versus a freelance resume. The purpose of a full-time-employment resume is to convince the employer that you possess the skills they are looking for and that you also have the potential to grow with their company and fit into the mold long term.
Most hiring managers are happy to train someone who has enthusiasm and will fit well with the company culture, even if their experience is a little weak. A full-time employee is a long-term investment.
The purpose of a freelance resume is to sell the potential client on what you already can do. In most cases, they don’t need you to grow with their company, they just need you to get the job done quickly and efficiently. And since you’re being paid by the hour, training will be kept to the bare minimum.
While one resume focuses on what you hope to do and how you want to improve on the experience you have, the other focuses on what you will do because you’ve already done the exact tasks before.
Try the Jobscan resume optimization tool to compare your resume to the job description of your next dream freelance gig:
What about a format?
There are three types of resume formats. Chronological, functional and hybrid. While most job seekers would benefit from a hybrid resume format, most freelancers will benefit from a functional resume format.
A functional resume puts your qualifications and skills front and center rather than focusing on experience and education. This makes it easier for the hiring manager to see if you can complete the specific tasks they need assistance with, and doesn’t waste time on the details or history that are ultimately irrelevant for freelance hires.
How to show several different types of freelance services?
It’s common for freelance workers to offer several different types of services or tasks. In some cases, you might be contracted for one, and in others, the client may want you to help with multiple different tasks. This is why it’s crucial that you tailor your resume to each specific job posting. Altering your resume to reflect your experience that most aligns with the details listed in the job description will significantly improve your chances of getting hired.
If your offerings tend to be very different from each other and rarely cross over, consider creating multiple resume templates that you can more quickly modify for each industry or service-type. Just be sure to triple-check before sending these out! It’s all too easy to get the templates or company names mixed up.
How to setup a freelance resume
While each resume should be unique to fit the job description, here are the important details to keep in mind for each section of your freelance resume.
Contact info and portfolio link
No matter what kind of work you do, always start with sharing your full name, email address, phone number, and mailing address (including zip code). Contact info is important for potential clients to get a hold of you, and for applicant tracking systems if applying through a form.
Freelancers should also ALWAYS include a link to their portfolio. If you don’t have one, you need one. A freelancer’s best assets are their samples, and a resume can’t showcase those samples.
Here’s an example:
New York, NY 10005 • 555-333-7979 • firstname.lastname@example.org • joejobscanportfolio.com
This section is the main focus of the freelance resume. It’s your chance to call out specific projects you’ve worked on. You can separate it into various sections if need be. Each project mentioned should only use a single bullet point. Keep them short!
Here’s an example:
- Wrote 3 sets of sales email flows for Alex & Ani’s Spring 2018 product launch with an average 23% open rate and 3% conversion rate.
- Doubled the number of top 10 ranking keywords for Trader Joe’s in 6 months by creating new content and optimizing existing pages.
Social Media Management
- Created 3 months of social media content (48 posts) for Lulu Lemon, resulting in a 30% increase in engagement and 9% increase in number of website clicks.
List any skills that differ from your obvious skillset. For example, if you are a freelance graphic designer, but you have experience coding, that’s an awesome skill to mention here. This is also the perfect section to list keywords for ATS.
Here’s an example:
If you have any relevant full-time employment history or long-term freelance/contract work, list those here as you would on a traditional resume. Include your job title, dates of employment, and a couple of descriptive bullet points.
Here’s an example:
This section should only be included if you have relevant higher education (college or above). If you don’t, don’t sweat it. In my experience, your skills and experience as a freelancer are much more valuable to clients than education.
Here’s an example:
What to do after you submit your freelancer resume
Unlike full-time positions, which are typically handled by a hiring manager or recruiter, many times the hiring of a freelancer is handled by a team manager within the department needing the freelance support. This means that your resume might be sent to someone who has a lot of other responsibilities on their plates beyond just deciding who to hire.
Because of this, freelance resumes can often get lost in the shuffle. Try to anticipate these challenges by being proactive by politely following up via email 2 weeks after you submit your application if you haven’t heard back yet. This can help keep you on the company’s radar and show that you are on top of things.
More freelance resume tips
- Regardless of your industry or type of employment you’re looking for, you should always customize your resume for every single job.
- Each freelance job you apply for will be asking for specific qualifications. You have the power to customize your qualifications to match exactly what the client is looking for.
- Include numbers and statistics where you can to help explain the value and results you bring to the table.
- Prioritize past work experience from the same industry or company type.
- Just like with regular roles, don’t list your rates or fees on your resume.
- While you may freelance for creative tasks, there’s no need to get too imaginative with the colors or visuals of your resume. Keep it simple and standard.
- No need to write “references available upon request” on your resume, this can be discussed via phone or email if needed.
- While you likely will have a portfolio of your work to submit in addition to your resume, keep them in separate files.
Customize and use this guide, and I guarantee you’ll start getting more, higher-quality freelance jobs!