In short, the answer is an easy yes. What’s key for freelancers – and for anyone looking for a job, in general – is to effectively showcase how your experience can bring value to potential employers. Not having a full-time job doesn’t mean the freelancing work you’ve done isn’t valuable. In fact, it’s the opposite.
You wear many hats while freelancing. Not only are you a pro at functional skills (writing, graphic design, etc.), you’re also a business owner and project manager. Let’s walk through some strategies to ensure that your resume sets you up for success on any job hunt.
8 Tips for Including Freelancing Experience on Your Resume
Tailor Resumes to the Prospective Job
Creating a standard resume that lists your freelance work is good. Templates can showcase work experience and the different projects you’ve done. But one-size-fits-all resumes don’t exist, and it’s important to take the extra time to make sure that for each application you submit is tailor-made for that specific position.
This doesn’t mean copy-pasting the job description into your resume. But dive into that job description and pick out the important skills and requirements they’re seeking to emphasize in your own experience. For example, you might be both a copywriter and a photographer, so you’re looking for both of these roles. In the copywriting-related applications, you should demonstrate how your freelance writing work has solved the needs of your past clients, rather than waste precious resume space describing photography projects. And vice versa.
But never lie. Few applicants have everything a recruiter is looking for. Your goal is to give that recruiter an easy road map to identify all of the relevant skills that you do have.
Link Your Portfolio
A resume is the reader’s window into your background and skillset. But if your freelancing experience is in the creative realm, it’s important to include a link to a portfolio so potential clients and employers can actually check it out. This can be in the form of a personal website, a GitHub, or if you’re a freelance writer, you can create a Linktree, which is a simple way to compile a list of relevant links to published content.
Use Action Verbs and Numbers
Whether you’re freelancing or have a full-time job, potential employers aren’t looking for you to recite job descriptions on your resume. They want to see accomplishments.
Each bullet point should start with an action verb (i.e. executed, coordinated, increased, etc.) and communicate how that action made an impact. Did you increase inbound traffic by 50%? Did your client’s click-through-rate double? Potential employers will want you to help improve their business. They’ll want to hire you if they’ve seen you’ve improved somebody else’s.
Add a Skills Section
Sometimes you won’t be able to include all of the skills or tools you have through describing your freelance projects. Creating a separate skills section will give you the opportunity to showcase all the hard skills and soft skills you have in your toolbox.
Beware of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
What’s an ATS?
According to TopResume, it’s “a type of software used by recruiters and employers during the hiring process to collect, sort, scan, and rank the job applications they receive for their open positions.”
Why is an ATS important?
If you’re applying to any large-scale company, it’s likely that your resume will go through an ATS before an actual human lays eyes on it. If the computer system can’t properly read your skillset or identify your accomplishments, you won’t be getting that interview.
Because of this, it’s important to exercise caution with designed resumes (yes, even if you’re a graphic designer!) because computers have difficulty reading them. A standard template will help ensure you won’t face issues here.
Note: If you’re applying to a small company or directly to a potential client’s job, this won’t be an issue.
Accompany It with a Cover Letter
A resume gets you that foot in the door, but it isn’t the best way for getting to know you as a person. A cover letter is an opportunity to show some of your personality and further explain why you think you’re the best person for the role.
However, don’t regurgitate your resume. The person reading your cover letter is reading it because they were impressed by the skills on your resume. But they don’t want to read the same thing again.
Job Hunting as a Freelancer
Freelance work experience is valuable, unique, and important. The work you accomplish as a freelancer might just get you that next full-time role or next client—depending on what you’re looking for. Putting freelance work on your resume might be the game-changer in your job search. Just make sure you take these extra steps to get yourself noticed by the employers and clients you would love working with.