How to Create a Resume When You’re Self-Employed (Part 2/3)

resume for self employed


In the first of our series on effectively relating freelance experience on resumes, we looked at some of the red flags employers see in such experience.

One of the ideas we stressed was that you can get around these red flags.

The way to do this is by assuring the employer that you’ve developed the skills he or she is looking for.

Here, in part two, we take a look at how to do just that.

What Did You Do When You Did?

A long-standing, traditional model of a resume involves listing responsibilities and activities of a job. For freelance work, this could mean performing bookkeeping tasks, maintaining the inventory of a product you may be selling, etc.

The question is, which specific and concrete skills did you develop when doing these things? Think of it as a matter of filling in the details.

Lead With the Skills

Once you’ve made a list of the skills you’ve developed, it’s important to present these skills with maximum effectiveness. That is, don’t have a Skills section down at the bottom of your resume — instead, essentially replace the Experience section with Skills.

So, if you’re a freelance writer and you’re relating a chunk of freelance work that centered around writing press releases for various clients, instead of saying “wrote and submitted compelling press releases …” go with something more like this:

  • Writing compelling press releases
  • Utilizing appropriate press release aggregators
  • Effectively addressing editors and other news professionals to place stories in high-profile news publications

If the experience in question involved technologies, theories and techniques, be sure to place these near the beginning of phrases and sentences.

The Right Stuff

As you surely know, we’re long past the days of the generic resume. Man, those were the days. Now you have to continually tweak and tweak things for each job you apply for.

That means re-casting your particular experience over and over, choosing pieces of that experience that apply in each case. You really need to give the employer as many of the skills named in the job listed as possible.

Ultimately, whatever concerns an employer may have about your transition from freelancing to traditional work should melt away if you do so. Having a good match of these skills will put you at the front of the line.

Your Skills are So … Soft

Not only is the phrase “soft skills” slightly unfortunate, but it’s very misleading, considering how important these soft skills really are.

Soft skills are so called because they are less easy to quantify than skills with a particular computer application or knowledge of a set of protocols. They include the ability to negotiate, to be sensitive to a client’s needs, to come up with creative solutions, etc.

These are increasingly valued, and your work as a freelancer involves these as much as any other type of skill. As a jack of all trades, you’ve surely learned all types of coping skills necessary to remain afloat.

You can list these just as with the examples above:

  • Developing solutions from clients’ outlines
  • Solving customer issues, etc.

And so on …

So, there you have it. Now that we’ve framed the issue in its general terms and have gotten into properly integrating skills, the next post will focus on chronological vs. skills-based resumes and how to put all this information together. So don’t turn that dial!

(Photo by sergio m mahugo / CC BY)


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Jeff Maehre is a fiction writer and freelance copywriter. His fiction has appeared in Story, The Northwest Review, Cutbank, and Phoebe; he often blogs and writes other copy about social media.

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