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How to List Self-Employment on a Resume

by Jake Martin

4 min read

If you’ve ever been self-employed, then you know how exciting it can be to take your future into your own hands. However, the fact is that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, and some workers eventually wish to return to full-time employment.

Although it can be challenging to make the leap from freelance to in-house employment, you can boost your odds of getting hired by building a strong resume that reflects your experiences as a self-employed individual. Showcase your background and experience in a way that allows potential employers to see your skills and know you’re more than up to the task.

Here are a few best practices for listing self-employment and contract work on your resume.

Take pains with title selection

When it comes to catching a hiring manager’s eye, selecting the right title for your self-employment position can make all the difference. Instead of listing your job title as ‘freelancer’, create a label that explains your role more clearly. Ask yourself what best describes your particular role. For example, it might be; contract writer, desktop publisher, graphic designer, website developer or business consultant.

Additionally, you should let managers know that you ran your own company. By labeling your employment status as ‘Company Owner’ or ‘Company Director’ instead of ‘Self-Employed’ you show potential employers that you possess leadership and management skills that other candidates might not.

The ability to manage other employees or build relationships with clients and suppliers can go a long way toward landing you that full-time position.

Detail accomplishments

One of the difficulties of listing self-employment on a resume is that employers may struggle to understand exactly what your job entails. To provide the most complete picture, former freelancers should list all of their most significant achievements.

For example; if you work within the digital arena you might include; improving a client’s SEO position, increasing web conversions or growing social media campaigns.

Whenever possible, be sure to provide specific data and percentages to drive your point home. Because many self-employed individuals have more than one client, it can be easy to lose track of what you accomplished at each job.

A good rule of thumb is to write out a brief description of the project and its outcome as soon as you finish. After all, you don’t want to forget anything that might help you land that new gig.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to include details regarding other responsibilities you held. Freelancers frequently wear many hats, so be sure to let employers know if you managed new business development, suppliers, invoicing and accounts, along with any other significant responsibilities.

Include references

As a self-employed person, you are likely working with multiple clients at a single time. As a result, you have the advantage of being able to handpick those customers or collaborators most likely to give you a great review.

Before listing references on your resume, check that they’re not just willing but also eager to refer your services. Although most clients won’t speak negatively about someone who asked for a reference, a savvy hiring manager can detect a lack of enthusiasm in someone’s responses.

You should also pre-discuss questions an employer is likely to ask and make sure you both remember your work experience in the same way. The last thing you want is a discrepancy between what you say on your resume and what your reference reveals on the phone.

Avoid apologies

It’s only natural to be upset when a self-employment opportunity doesn’t work out the way you intended. However, almost everyone experiences employment setbacks during the course of a career, and you should never apologise for time spent as a freelancer.

Instead, use your resume’s objective statement to highlight your passion and ambition, and be sure to explain how they will translate to your new role. The fact that you ran a business should make you more desirable—not less—in the eyes of hiring managers.

Because most employers will want to know why you’re making the switch from freelance to in-house, it’s a good idea to address this question head-on in your resume or cover letter.

Instead of saying you started your own company to escape a bad work situation or to be your own boss, stress the fact that you wanted to seek new challenges and improve client services.

Since supervisors may worry that you’ll strike out on your own again, strive to reassure them that you are ready to build a long and lasting career with their company. Employers want to feel confident that they are your first choice, so let them know you’re ready to leave freelancing behind and join the corporate world once again.

Even if it doesn’t work out in the long term, self-employment can provide you with a wide array of skills that will serve both you and your future bosses well.

Instead of apologising for your freelance work, showcase it proudly on your resume, and explain how the creativity and ambition that made you strike out on your own will be a real advantage to your new company.

To read more Self Employed Guides and Resources, visit here.

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