Your freelance career likely includes many different projects for many different clients. Depending on the scope of your work, your compensation might have varied significantly. One job might have paid by the hour, another paid by the project, and some were commission jobs. So, it may seem challenging to put your work experience into words, let alone visualize it on a resume.
But it’s easier than you might think. You don’t have to take a drastically different approach than you would for a standard full-time-work resume. Many of the same core resume strategies apply, including a summary profile, spelling out results, and using a conservative format. Additionally, you should structure your freelance job descriptions similarly to full-time job descriptions.
Often the problem of a freelance resume is simply one of organization. How do you organize so many different jobs and gigs on a couple of 8.5 by 11-inch pages? Follow these best practices to address any complexity in your career history and include freelance work on your resume:
Clarify the Time Commitment
When developing freelance job descriptions, you need to clarify the time commitment involved, so the description doesn’t mislead the hiring manager to think a “once in a while” job was taking up your whole schedule. Often the best place to do this is in the first line – include a phrase like “on a part-time basis,” “on an intermittent basis,” or “for 10 hours per week on average.” This keeps the work history accurate and allows you to include plenty of different freelance jobs on your resume with confidence.
Focus on Recent Work
You don’t have to go all the way back to your first job out of college. Instead, focus on your most recent 10-15 years of experience. When in doubt, refer to the job postings that interest you. How many years do they generally call for? Take your work history back that far (for example, if seven years, take your work history back to about 2015).
Put Your Jobs in Reverse-Chronological Order
To do this effectively, first put them in order of the most recent end date, then the most recent start date. This two-step process lets you iron out any complexities posed by starting or ending multiple jobs at the same time or holding multiple positions concurrently. The result may seem counterintuitive if you push a recent job farther down, but it’s the correct way to organize your work history.
Only Write Descriptions for Relevant Jobs
What kind of job are you going after in your search? You don’t need to flesh out descriptions for positions unrelated to your goal. Leave in unrelated jobs if they help fill an employment gap, but don’t include more than basic details about them.
Don’t Worry About Including Every Job
For freelance work history, it can be hard to recall all your jobs (especially the short-lived ones). Know that no one is forcing you to include every single recent job. Resumes are not intended to be a comprehensive view of your work experience. They are meant to be focused and give the hiring manager enough information that they want to know more about you via an interview. If you’re showing consistent recent work, you don’t need to tear your hair out thinking of every other job you might have held during that time span.
Consolidate Similar Jobs
You don’t need a distinct entry for every job on your freelance resume. A helpful strategy is to start with a complete outline of your recent experience, including:
- job title
- start and end dates
Then look for patterns. Are there jobs that share similar details?
Full-timers often work multiple successive jobs at the same employer. However, the inverse is often true for freelancers. You’ve held the same title (or a very similar title) for multiple clients and companies. If that’s the case, you can first provide your title, then list multiple clients or companies below the title as an indented list and describe the work in common. Here’s an example of how this looks in action:
Graphic Designer – Freelance, New York, NY | August 2018 to January 2020
Client Company Name
Client Company Name
Client Company Name
- Developed illustrations and logo designs for three high-profile companies.
Show Related Industry Experience
Freelancers often gain experience in many different industries, so you may feel you need to round up and list out all the industries you’ve worked in your profile. You don’t need to do that, though, since hiring managers like to see candidates with experience in their particular industry. Consider a more focused presentation. Only call out industry experience relevant to the job at hand, like this: “Freelance Writer with 10+ years of experience including four years serving the insurance industry.”