How to Put Freelance Work on Resume
Many freelancers do not have an (acceptable) resume, irrespective of the work they have executed. We think the resume is for full-time job seekers, and we do not give the importance it requires. Freelancers understand the need for a portfolio, a website, and testimonials but provide the most petite regard to the resume. You may call it a curriculum vitae (CV), profile, or bio-data. In this context, all these are identical. If you are a freelancer, you must have one of these.
If you do not have a resume, you miss an opportunity to position yourself well and harness good value. A freelancer always wants to increase the billing rate and lift to the next level as an expert. If you have a good resume and put your work in the right way, you can sell yourself in the best way imaginable. The implication is that it should result in more work for you. People suggest you list the best work in your freelance resume. That is not enough!
"Success in life is not just about what you know or what you can do; it's about how well you market yourself. In a world filled with talented individuals, it's crucial to create a personal brand that sets you apart. You are your own best advocate, so don't be afraid to showcase your strengths and share your unique story with the world." - Oprah Winfrey
It is not that you add a section and list your best work. You should present the problems your clients faced, then how you provided the solution, and how it benefitted the client. So the listing of your work should be that way. This article will help you in that direction. I will illustrate examples and explain in a simple and detailed way to furnish your freelance work on your resume.
Should you put freelance work on your resume?
Yes! Definitely yes. Let me explain the rationale behind it. A recruiter or a potential client's objective is to know about you in the fullest possible. They do not care if the work you have done in the past is as a freelancer, full-time employee, or university student. They intend to know everything about your mastery. You need a reason to hide your skills but not to display them.
Imagine how your resume would look if you do not display any of your freelance work and there is no full-time experience. The client will consider you a fresher and not give you the job. If you do not now put your freelance work history, your resume will look like something downloaded online.
The need to put your freelance work on the resume becomes more critical based on the industry you belong to. For example, if you are a freelance writer or a graphic designer, the client will be eager to know what sort of project you have experience with and the latest technology and tools you are hands-on with.
Okay, now we have seen the importance of adding your freelance work experience to your resume. The next thing is how to add it. I will present detailed tips below to put your freelance work experience in your CV and gain more freelance contracts.
How to put freelance work on your resume?
- Describe the problem you worked for.
- Highlight the solution you provided.
- List the benefits it resulted for the client.
- Your role and project duration
- Mention the company name and client details.
- Demonstrate your multi-domain knowledge.
- Proclaim that you took ownership of the project.
1. Describe the problem you worked for
It all starts with a problem. When you wake up as a freelancer, you are doomed to fail if there are no problems on your plate. You should have issues daily. You should solve it successfully. Then you will keep growing consistently. If you have positioned yourself as a consultant and not an obedient data-entry guy, then the client will bring hardships for you to ponder.
They will keep you busy; you need not look around for them. But you should pose yourself as a problem solver and a consulting person. Once all this is done, the first thing is to update the resume by adding that situation to your resume.
The section where you are listing your freelance works should start with the section title "Problem faced by the client" and not you. It should not be a summary and elaborate it. So that when a potential client has a look at it, they should feel that "Ah yes, I am also facing that same problem."
2. Highlight the solution you provided
The first section will become incomplete if you stop adding the solution provided to that problem. When a person reads your resume, they should become inquisitive, like reading a puzzle, thinking about what a solution might be to that problem, and then inspecting what the solution you provided to that problem is. This will keep them engaged.
In this era of social media, where users' attention spans are ever shrinking, keeping them engaged with your resume is a huge challenge. We need to innovate in every aspect. The problem-and-solution approach is a good technique. It should not be something trivial.
It should be a particular case that occurred for your client and how you used your knowledge and experience to give a solution to that problem. Also, add as much information as possible on what technology, tools, and approach you used. They should fit in with the latest tech and trends.
3. List the benefits it resulted for the client
The obvious next step is to list the benefits reaped by your client. What is more important is the benefit of the result. Everybody has problems and some solutions. It becomes a selling point for your job prospects when your solution is a hit and not a miss. The solution you have provided for the problem faced by your client should be solved first, and then, as a result of your solution, their business should benefit and move forward.
If the benefit is a direct revenue increase, you should highlight it as that is a clear marker for your audience. Sometimes the benefits may be a side effect, and you may not be able to see a clear benefit. It may also result in a long-run strategic positive. In such a case, you can call it out in the resume. Whatsoever, it is best to put all three problems, solutions, and benefits from your freelance work in your resume.
4. Your role and project duration
You need to be clear and explicit in presenting the facts. It should not be cloudy. A project is a team activity. What part you played needs to be mentioned in your resume transparently. A freelancer may play a minuscule function. For example, only test the UI. But the freelancer should not claim and leave it to the benefit of the doubt and create an impression that the freelancer has done the whole assignment.
Sometimes, a freelancer will be a one-person army and execute the project. In that case, you can proudly take credit for that activity. In any case, you should mention your role in the resume for your work.
I have seen freelancers putting projects they executed a decade back. Do not add freelance work on your resume without specifying the from and to date (duration) of the project and, most notably, how long you worked on it.
5. Mention the company name and client details
When you put freelance work on the resume, you should mention the company you worked for. Also, the client's name should be noted as a reference so that a prospective client can verify the information you furnish. Public information can be verified. When the background verification is done, it adds authenticity to your claim and increases the probability of getting a new freelance contract.
An important thing you should do in this move is get it vetted by your client. In your freelance contract, you should describe that you may use the company and client name for future marketing purposes. Or you may also explicitly state the place as your resume. In freelance, getting paid for the invoice is not the only non-functional job; collecting testimonials and focussing on future marketing is also critical.
Let it be part of the freelance contract and get it approved and signed. Then, there is no issue mentioning your client's company and the client's name. This is what adds authenticity to all your claims. You may claim that you have solved an enormous problem for your client and increased their revenue. It is useless unless you quote your client's reference to substantiate your claim.
6. Demonstrate your multi-domain knowledge
When you do freelance work, you are expected to be a multi-disciplinary connoisseur, unlike a full-time engagement, where the expectation is that you need to be good at what you do. There will be defined roles and responsibilities. But in general, a freelancer is expected to be a master of all trades.
Showing your freelance work on your resume should demonstrate your multi-domain knowledge. This will attract your future client. Show some snippets of this as a prelude in your freelance cover letter. Your proposal will sell. For example, let us assume that you are a software developer. Then it would be best if you defined that you are good at
- requirements elicitation,
- software design,
- UI/UX design
- software frameworks, design patterns
- black box, white box testing
- performance optimization
- release management
Instead of just listing the above, you should highlight these terms as part of your freelance work history. This jargon should be interleaved amidst the narrative, and it will get noticed and do its job.
7. Proclaim that you took ownership of the project
Among all the things, the most critical item that is expected of a freelancer is, "Will you take ownership of the work?" It is what you should bring out in your resume. If given work, the client can feel at peace, forget about the job, and need not track the status. You will own it and take it to successful completion.
Soft requirements on how to list
- Be honest
- Keep it short and simple
- Do not beat around the bush
- Focus on your successes
- Include the client's words
These are general tips suitable for any work you do. Any amount of lies will pull you back. Keep it straight in your resume. If you feel your resume is short, add it to your skill. You should be explicit. The language will convey your honesty. Highlight your successful projects and add the client's testimonial, a snippet of a couple of lines below every freelance work you have included. The final tip on the list is to keep it updated. Before you send the resume to any prospect, add the latest freelance work, and update it. If you publicize your resume on your website, blog, or social media, revamp it every time you finish a project.
Example to put freelance work on a resume
Graphic designer for Lorem Inc as a freelancer
Period: January 2023 – March 2023
- The client had an eCommerce website with good pageviews but a poor conversion rate.
- I worked on the UI/UX design, increased the CTA presence, improved the product gallery, optimized the navigation, and reduced the interaction points for checkout and similar.
- The conversion rate increased by 4x and grew to 2 million in revenue.
Client's reaction: "...the best investment for the project is the money spent and the website optimization..."
Client's reference: Mr. Popeye, The Sailor Man, Lorem Inc. He can be reached via his LinkedIn Profile XYZ.
The key to success is that you should act as a storyteller. Just adding your freelance work in monotonous paragraphs will not work. It should be presented as an engaging story. Follow the tips in the article, and I bet you will get conquest in your freelance journey.