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How do I list freelance experience on my CV?

‘I am self-employed and do a lot of freelance work. How do I properly describe this on my CV?’ — Irene H.

Answer:

If you’re a freelancer or are self-employed, you may be struggling to list your experience on your CV. The difficulties arise for various reasons. For example, if you’re a well-established freelancer, how do you choose which projects to list? Alternatively, if your freelancing is just a side hustle, should you list it on your CV at all?

Many job hunters try to twist their freelancing into a full-time position on their CV, but there’s no benefit to this. Freelancing is just as credible a way of working as being in an office, but it has to be formatted correctly on a CV to show a potential employer what a great catch you really are. These are the ways you can do just that.

List your freelancing as a position of employment

Whether your most recent role can be considered self-employed or your side-hustle is freelancing, list this experience as a position of employment the same way as any other in-house role.

Include the dates of your self-employment and your title. Choosing ‘consultant’, ‘contractor’ or ‘freelancer’ combined with your niche or skill is the most appropriate way to structure your title. For example: ‘Freelancer Writer’ or ‘SEO Consultant’. Then write a short blurb under the dates and title that explains the type of work that you do. This helps set the scene for the recruiter.

If you have turned your self-employment into a limited business, you can also add your business name to your CV. 

Choose your impressive projects and clients

Once you’ve ironed out the overarching details, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty. There are a couple of ways to do this.

Option one: Following your short blurb, zoom in on a few key clients and the projects you completed with them. Use subheadings to introduce the client name or niche and the year(s) you worked with them. Underneath, use bullet points to list your key projects and achievements per client.

Option two: Use subheadings to split your skills. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you might like to split your skills by the type of writing you do, such as blog articles, editing and web copy. Underneath your headings, bullet point your achievements (and clients if you wish) per skill.

If you’ve worked with many clients, be sure to list the clients and projects that relate to the role you’re applying for. Don’t be afraid to weed out the unrelated projects that might mask your expertise.

Showcase your portfolio

It’s great if you can bullet point your most-notable skills and achievements from your time in self-employment. However, it’s even better if you can evidence your successes.

Give examples of relevant work on your CV by linking to it. For example, if you’re a writer, link to an article you wrote. If you’re a developer, link to a website you built. And if you’re an artist, link to your portfolio.

We recommend referencing three to five examples that represent your skill set. By zooming in on your achievements this way, you provide solid, tangible metrics for a prospective employer to assess. This speaks much louder than words on the page.

Click on the following link for more CV-writing advice.

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