Tag Archives: self

Maximize Your Freelance Experience on a Resume

Freelance on a ResumeThe 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.

Toot Your Own Horn Bigger, Better, and Louder – How to Self-Promote Better

The Art of Self PromotionWhether you’re looking for a job or climbing the corporate ladder, others are going to have to know about your accomplishments and what you can do. Odds are, no one will know how valuable you are unless you speak up and talk about yourself.

For many, self-promotion feels awkward and sounds like bragging. No one wants to hear someone talk endlessly about how awesome they are, but if no one knows about your skills and abilities, you could miss out on several opportunities to work or get promoted. Here are ways you can effectively self-promote without sounding like a loudmouth.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Becoming known doesn’t happen overnight. Self-promotion is about building lasting relationships that develop over time. A reputation isn’t instantaneous, it’s earned. You need to take your time to let your creativity flourish. Despite what people say, your best, most creative work doesn’t come under pressure. You have to establish trust and respect, and you can’t do that quickly or with sloppy work.

Start slowly by placing small, easily achievable goals for self-promotion. Things like going to an industry event, meeting an influencer or industry leader for lunch, or writing a blog or guest column in a publication are great ways to get started. Make sure you track your progress so you can have something to measure as the months go by.

Know When to Hold ‘Em, and Know When to Fold ‘Em
The importance of self-promotion isn’t just in what you say, but it’s also in what you don’t say. You are trying to establish a personal brand,  and now that you have goals established, you have to do what will achieve those goals. If you work construction, you may want to make bold statements about a new type of material that could strengthen bases or a new tool that could speed up production on tile installation. But being vocal about your opinions on internal politics, labor disputes, or gossip doesn’t help you become known for your skills, creative ideas, or accomplishments. Talking about things not pertinent to your area of expertise won’t help you meet your goals.

Know What you Can’t Do
The more general you try to be, the more forgettable you’ll be. That’s why it’s important to specialize when self-promoting. When branding yourself, find one to three specific skills that are your best, develop and work on those skills, and then promote them. When you become an expert in a few areas, you will stand out among your peers and leaders. Most of the time, generalists look weak or lacking in direction while specialists are seen as committed to what they are good at.

When you specialize, you don’t even have to focus on your strongest abilities. Sometimes you will notice a need in your field or company that needs to be met and no one is filling it. That way, you won’t be bragging as much as you’re trying to fill a gap in your industry or with your employer.

Self-promotion can be scary and feel self-centered, but you have to get your name out there if you want leaders and decision makers to remember you when opportunity knocks. What are your strengths? How can you tell others about your accomplishments? Let us know in the comments below.

Using Your Time Off to Your Advantage

Man reading at libraryAn employment gap can be daunting, especially when you’re struggling to land a job and feel your work history gap is holding you back. Whether you’ve been laid off or chose to take a break from the workforce, it’s important to use your time to your advantage. Even when you’re spending much of your time job hunting, take time to focus on these five habits to build your résumé and keep your skills current during an employment gap.

Read. Every field is different, but each one has trade publications that cover the latest news and trends specific to that industry. By reading trade publications, you’ll stay up-to-date on information you need to know to compete with other job candidates who haven’t left the industry. You can access many of these publications online or at your local library. Remaining knowledgeable about your profession will help you remain relevant to potential employers.

Volunteer. If you don’t use the skills you have, you lose them. In this competitive job market, it’s critical to keep your skills sharp and active. Consider volunteering in your community with an organization that will allow you to continue using your job skills. Then, list your volunteer activities and the skills you used on your résumé to show potential employers your experience. Volunteering your time and talents will also allow you to build important contacts, helping to expand your job search.

Continue Your Education. Technology and training are always changing, which makes continued education an important differentiator. Community colleges and vocational schools often offer low-cost career development classes for adults, so enroll in a class that will benefit your job search and your skill set. Consider classes that focus on communication, computer technology, or industry specific courses that will build your knowledge base and elevate your value to employers.

Freelance. Much like volunteering, taking on a freelance project requires you to practice your skills, use your knowledge, and put your experience to work. Doing freelance work can also help you supplement your income while you search for a more consistent job. Seek out freelance opportunities from companies you’d like to work for full time. This can help you get your foot in the door and build your professional network.

Network. Now is a great time to build your network of those who know you personally and professionally. Continue to meet new people, reconnect with former co-workers and supervisors, and build on your current relationships to broaden your job opportunities. When you’re hunting for a job, sometimes your established network will be the first to tell you about a job or refer you for a position. By staying connected through your contacts, your name will be top of mind when employers begin looking for the right person for the job.

Instead of worrying about gaps in your work history, use your time wisely by building your résumé, polishing your skills, and seeking out job opportunities. Give yourself an edge over your competition by focusing on these five habits when you’re without a job. Be persistent, and you may just land the job you’ve been working toward!