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How to List Self-Employment and Freelance Experience on a CV

You have gained a lot of important skills during your time as a freelance or while running your own business. You need to highlight those accomplishments on your CV – but how?

Including self-employment and freelance work on your CV can be tricky because your experiences may not fit the cookie-cutter mold you are used to using.

But that’s okay. Below, we’ll discuss three different ways of listing freelance work and self-employment on your resume.

Check out this post for more information on putting freelance work on a resume.

Why Include Freelance Work and Self-Employment on Your CV?

Today, more people than ever before are leaving traditional jobs to work for themselves. One of the biggest reasons for this shift is the quest for a better work/life balance.

In fact, in 2021, Forbes reported that 59 million Americans – more than one-third of the United States’ workforce – were engaged in freelance work.

You might decide to omit short stints of freelance work on a one-page resume, assuming it doesn’t leave a glaring career gap. But on a longer curriculum vitae (CV), you should list all of your past employment, including freelance work and self-employment.

Some may worry that this kind of work could look bad on their CV, throwing up a “red flag” to employers. The trick is all in how you list it. In fact, if you utilize one or more of the methods below, you can leverage your freelance work to display key skills. This is true whether you are applying for traditional employment or trying to land your next gig.

How to List Self-Employment and Freelance Work on Your CV

Freelance and self-employment entries fall into three broad categories – owning your own business, large projects, and groups of small projects. First, we’ll discuss some general “don’ts” to avoid. Then we will look at each category in turn.

DON’Ts to Avoid

Don’t use the term “self-employed,”, especially in the company name section.

As with any CV, don’t share your clients’ confidential information. Don’t mention how much you made or what you charged.

When You Own Your Own Business

The easiest way to list your freelance work is to start your own business. Obtaining a business license requires minimal paperwork and a small fee in many places. Depending on how much you are making as a consultant or subcontractor, you may be legally required to do so.

When you own your own business, you can list your self-employment the same way as you would any other work experience. Placing the word “Freelance” before your position title is optional. Include your business name in the company name section.

In your job descriptions, be sure to include your major accomplishments and the names of companies you have worked with.

Large Freelance Projects

If you don’t own your own business, or if one or more of your large projects especially stands out, you can list it on its own. Long-term projects also show that you are reliable enough to work with a client for the long term.

In the Job Position section, put the word “Freelance” in front of your job title. This underscores your relationship with the company. That is that you are working as a freelance consultant or contractor rather than a traditional employee. This also removes the stigma of having several short stints with different companies.

You can use the company’s name in the Employer section since you have already clearly established your relationship with them.

A large project freelance experience entry might read in this way:

Freelance Content Creator

Mariott International | July 2016 to May 2017

  • Utilized still photography, action camera videography, and written accounts to capture the essence of Mariott vacation properties at 22 locations around the world
  • Completed day-long Instagram takeovers at each location, raising engagement on the relevant accounts by an average of 16 percent

Grouping Many Small Projects

If you don’t own your own business but are engaged in small projects (each being three months or less in duration), you should group them under a single entry.

Put the word “Freelance” before your position title. Don’t include a company name (unless you own your own business, as discussed above). Ensure that you include the names of companies – especially major or recognized brands – that you have worked with within your bulleted job descriptions.

Self-employment
Image by Steve DiMatteo from Pixabay

Key Takeaways

  • Including freelance work and self-employment on your CV can highlight key skills, such as management, work ethic, and specific technical skills.
  • Freelance projects can fill career gaps.
  • The easiest way to include freelance work on your CV is to get a business license. Then, you can list this work in the same way as any other work experience.
  • You may list large freelance projects individually, including the word “Freelance” in your position title and naming the company you worked with.
  • Small projects of less than three months should be grouped under a single entry.

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