Building a Great Freelancer’s Resume

It doesn’t have to be hard to build abuilding a great freelancer's resume pinterest graphic white text purple background great freelancer resume. 

But if you’re anything like me, you struggle to build a resume to begin with.

I hate sitting down and writing out everything I’ve done in the past decade. I’ve done so much! I’ve worked for so many different companies! I’ve had so many different job titles! 

How do I manage to make those all sound cohesive? 

I’ll show you how I’ve made it work, and landed major clients, as a result. 

Why Does a Freelancer Need a Resume?

If you’re just jumping gigs, you might benefit more from a list of references, or from a portfolio.

So, you might not need a resume at all!

But I think it’s still worth keeping one on hand.

Here’s why:

You never know when you might need to know your work history, and if you don’t have it ready to go, you could miss a great opportunity.

I keep a running resume document that is literally a file of who I’ve worked for and what I’ve done for them and what years.

It’s something like 12 pages long right now. Maybe more. But I keep it because I use it for building specific, individual resumes for each position I apply for (when I’m asked for a resume).
[bctt tweet=”If you’re a freelancer jumping from one gig to another, consider putting together a resume document with all the gigs you’ve done, who you worked for, and when. It might come back to help you later!”]

What Kind of Resume Should You Make?

That depends on what you’re looking to do.

If you’re looking to get more freelance gigs in your area of expertise, you have a lot more leeway than if you’re looking to transition to a salaried position.

Like I said above, you might just need a portfolio, or a list of references.

What if You’re Looking to Go from a Freelance to a Salaried Job?

It can be a lot more difficult to make the leap from freelance to salary than freelance gig to freelance gig.

When you’re just looking to get a gig job, it’s usually easier to highlight your prior gig work. Clients understand that you might have only worked at a company for 2-3 months, or 2-3 weeks.

As long as the job was done well, they tend to be more interested in your portfolio than the length of time you spent at a company.

graphic of documents one says skills vs portfolio vs classic style textSalaried jobs are changing, and that’s a good thing – but there are still some old-fashioned expectations about longevity in a certain position, which I personally think don’t prove anything.

A lot of people stay in jobs they hate because they can’t find another job, or because they feel obligated to, or because they have personal reasons, or….

There are a lot of reasons people stay in jobs for years that have nothing to do with company loyalty, job ability, personal growth, or any of the other “positive” reasons attached to staying in one job for a long time.

Meanwhile, other folks, myself included, may have had hundreds of jobs over their lifetimes, and be great at their skill set. They may be good learners, quick to make adjustments, take notes and changes well, and efficient at their work. They might even be perfect in the right salaried position.

But, you may still have to jump through the resume hoop to prove your worth.

So, here’s some tactics I employ when I’m moving from a freelance to a salaried job.

1. Have a Specific Resume Ready for Each Job

I adjust my resume for the job I’m applying for. So, I have a writing one, and a script analysis one, and a film production one, and… whatever fits the job in question.

2. Make the Resume Highlight What You Want It to Highlight

A lot of people are taught to write a resume a certain way.

You get into a habit of updating your resume the same way, based on years at a position, or based on a template you got in 1995.

It’s not 1995 anymore.

You can write your resume to suit your strengths.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say I’ve been doing screenplay coverage for a decade. In that time, I’ve read thousands of scripts. I’ve had probably 20-30 clients (companies), and hundreds of clients (individuals).

So, does it make sense for me to list every company?

It might, if I’m only applying for a script analysis job.

But what if I’m trying to apply for a writing-heavy position that would benefit from hearing about my content creation work, and the books I’ve published, and the clerical jobs I’ve done?

I’m going to need space on my resume to highlight those, too. Keep that in mind when choosing font size – it needs to be legible and understandable.

So, here’s what I do…

Rather than lay out a resume like so:

Client 1 (2 months)

Client 2 (3 months)

Client 3 (5 years)

Instead, I subdivide by individual task.

So:

Script Analysis (10 years)
Clients include: Client 1, 2, 3.
References available.

Content Creation (7 years )
Clients include: Client 3, 4, 5.
References and samples available or links attached.

Website Design (2 years)
Clients include: client list.

I might even mix it up and add a company in there, if it’s useful.

So it might read:

Website Design (2 years)
Clients include: client list.

Script Analysis Company (7 years)
Company founder, web designer, script analysis, customer service.

Whatever skills I’m focusing on are the skills I highlight.

That helps me go from someone who looks like they have a scattered work history to someone who clearly has longevity in their area of expertise. 

Colors and Charts on resumes

Does it matter if I use colors or charts in my resume?

You can if you want to. You don’t have to.

If you’re going for a job in graphic design, it might make more sense to do so than if you’re going for a job in the corporate sector. Think about whether it’s appropriate for the position.

The most important thing is that the information is clearly understandable, and you are presenting the best version of yourself for this job.

What other tricks do you use when building a freelance resume to jump to a salaried job?

And what do you think makes a great freelancer’s resume?

Post below and let me know what I missed!