The Great Recession and its aftermath has made it difficult for many people who have been trying to start a career in the past few years. Because of that, eager job seekers, like me, turned to freelancing to hone their skills and gain experience while looking for more stable work.
One challenge I always struggled with is making it work on a resume. How do I explain consulting for two companies, doing contract work for a major retail chain, and event coordinating for several nonprofits without looking like a job hopper?
Here are some simple ways you can use your freelance experience to your advantage on your resume and carry it over into an interview.
Condense or Attach
The easiest way to include your freelance work on your resume is to file it under its own section labeled “Freelance Work” or “Freelance Experience.” If you’re freelancing full time, consider putting it at the top of your experience list since it should have some of the most relevant and current experience in your career. If freelancing is a side project or a part-time endeavor, consider placing it under any current part-time jobs you have. This way, employers know you’re still working somewhere while you’re furthering your career. If you have more relevant information on your freelancing experience than the part-time job, you may consider putting it at the top of your list.
If you’re a young worker, still have a few years of solid work with an employer, but your freelance work doesn’t apply to the jobs you’re looking for, consider putting the experience on a resume addendum – a separate piece of paper with additional information about your experience. This will put the focus on your professional work instead of the freelancing. Once you have an interview, you can bring the addendum to show your commitment to self-improvement.
Results Over Variety
Your resume shouldn’t be the same for every potential employer or job opening. It should be tailored to best match the requirements needed for the job. That’s why including all the details of your freelancing experience might be a bad idea. Choose projects that have results that best reflect the job you’re applying for. You might even showcase specific clients who best represent the industry you’re interviewing in. Showing measurable achievements with a few projects is better than displaying generic job duties from a laundry list of big name clients.
If you want to use the names of your clients to your advantage, consider including them as references. Having an employer hear from someone else about the quality of your work is far better than the text included on a resume.
Consider Your Cover Letter
There’s a chance employers could see your freelance history in different contexts. Some may interpret it as your way of being an ambitious go-getter who made work for yourself between jobs. Others may be concerned that your entrepreneurial spirit means you will jump at the chance to own your own business or a job opportunity with more variety and flexibility. Depending on how much freelancing you do, they might wonder if it will conflict with your full-time responsibilities for them.
Consider including the reasons why you freelance in your cover letter so you can help clarify your goals and objectives. Understanding what you plan to do with your freelancing can help ease any potential worries an employer may have with your history.
How have you used your freelancing experience during your job search? Let us know in the comments section below.