There are many reasons, such as preparing a proposal template or quote template for a new gig, why you may suddenly need to update your resume at some point during your freelance career. Maybe you’ve been freelancing on the side while you earn your degree, and now it’s time to enter the traditional workforce for a while. Maybe you decided that freelancing isn’t for you. Or, quite simple, maybe you need an updated resume to help you secure some more freelance contracts.
No matter what your situation may be for needing to update your resume, you’re probably wondering exactly how to put freelance work on your resume. After all, you’ve been gaining some really valuable experience and expanding your skill set, and you want to shout about it to any potential employers or clients.
The steps outlined in this article will help you figure out how to list freelance work on your resume - no matter how long you’ve been freelancing - so you can make a great impression. Scroll down to the bottom of the article for some useful freelancer resume examples, and our downloadable pack of 5 resume samples for freelance designers, developers, writers, marketers, videographers, and more.
Should you list freelance work on your resume?
Yes, absolutely! You won’t be alone in listing your freelance work on your resume. In fact, according to a 2016 study on freelancing in America, around 55 million people in the US are freelancing - and you can guarantee that many of them have had to update their resume at some point!
The skills and experience that you’ve learned as a freelancer are just as valid as the ones learned in a more traditional workplace. From drafting professional freelance invoices to responsibly time tracking, all these skills can be transferable to almost any job.
As long as the freelance work has some relevance to the job you’re applying for (i.e. as long as there are some transferable skills between the two positions), you should always list your freelance work on your resume.
But a big question remains: how do you put freelance work on a resume?
1. Consider a functional layout
You’re probably familiar with the traditional, chronological layout of a typical resume, i.e. one that lists your work experience from most recent and works its way backward. However, if you’ve been freelancing for a while this may not be the best way to showcase your skills and experience.
For example, consider if you’ve been freelancing for five years now, and before that you only held positions for six months at a time. You would be right in saying that it doesn’t seem fair to give these positions an equal amount of attention on your resume.
Instead, consider a functional layout for your resume. What is a functional resume? It’s a resume that focuses more on your achievements, organizing and grouping your work based on common themes and skills rather than by chronological positions. It can help you highlight your freelance work in a key way.
If you decide not to use a functional layout, think of other ways to highlight your skills and experience. Consider including a larger skills section, or list the services you provide. Then, when writing your job description for your freelance work, be sure to keep your marketing pitch in mind to ensure you cover all the most important details of your work.
2. Make it look as professional as possible
Just like when you’re creating a freelance proposal, you want your resume to be as professional as possible in order to deliver the best first impression. And speaking of that, did you know that you could send your resume to a client by using Bonsai's proposal system?
First, just go to your dashboard and click on "send a proposal".
Now you can create or choose the client and project for which you're sending the resume and a proposal.
When you're done, just click on "create proposal" and you'll be taken to the proposal editor. On the top side you'll be able to set up client and your own details, and also add personal touches such a custom background and an image (which could be your logo). Once done, just scroll down.
This is where the magic happens! You can easily include your resume as part of the proposal, and then just tweak it to your needs by removing, editing, or adding new sections.
When everything looks good, just scroll back to the top and click on "send proposal". Fingers crossed! It wasn't that hard, was it? If you like the workflow or would like to explore Bonsai more, just sign up to a free trial.
The word freelancer unfortunately still has some negative connotations associated with it, and some employers may not take you as seriously if you list your job title as “freelancer”.
You should think about your freelance work as a business owner, and that includes taking yourself seriously as a self-employed individual and acknowledging yourself as such. Present your freelance work in the most professional way possible by giving yourself a job title that reflects the work you’ve been doing. Some options might include “consultant”, “contractor”, or even “CEO/Founder”.
You may also want to consider naming your company, depending on the nature of your work - however, this won’t work for everyone.
(PS: If you’re ready to really start taking yourself seriously as a professional freelancer, with loophole proof freelance contracts and more, try a Bonsai free trial and see the difference it can make.)
3. List your achievements
Just as you would with any non-freelance job, it’s important to list your proudest achievements under your freelance experience on your resume. Don’t simply list the clients you’ve worked for and provide a sentence or two about the work that you did. Instead, tie each project back to the client’s goals and motivations for hiring you in the first place.
What did you help them achieve, and why is that important?
Highlight measurable results that you’ve achieved. For example, did you develop a website that helped a client double their web traffic? Or, maybe your graphic design work helped a client triple their social media audience.
Collect figures and statistics from your freelance clients as you go (perhaps as part of your invoicing process), but also don’t be afraid to reach out to old clients while you’re putting your resume together.
Also, consider linking directly to your freelance portfolio website or any other resource where the job manager or client can access more information about what you do and the work you’re most proud of.
4. But, don’t list everything
While you certainly want to showcase the projects that you’re most proud of, be careful not to try to squeeze every single freelance project you’ve ever worked on onto your resume. Only list the jobs that are strategically relevant to the job that you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a web developer position, you don’t need to list the freelance transcription projects that you took on when you were just starting out.
Similarly, do not create individual headings for each project; instead, summarize your freelance work within a single heading. The only exception to this would be if you changed your freelance career; for example, if you started as a web designer but then moved on to web content writing.
3 freelance resume examples
Wondering exactly how to list freelance work on a resume so that it looks professional and ticks all of a job manager’s boxes? The following freelance resume examples can give you a clearer idea on how exactly to lay out your freelance experience.
Once you review these first examples, you'll find right below our downloadable pack of 5 more resume samples from freelance developers, marketers, designers, writers, videograhers, and more!
1. Freelance web developer resume sample
Web Developer (Contract), Miami, FL | October 2018 - Present
Collaborating with 3+ agencies, developed websites for clients in the e-commerce, portfolio and blogging industries.
Created UX strategies, including detailed wireframes and mockups.
Validated completed sites, including testing and debugging of code.
Responsible for quality assurance of finished websites, including validating web forms and links.
2. Freelance web designer resume sample
Web Designer, April Bennett Designs, New York, NY | June 2016 - Present
Worked with a variety of clients in the health and fitness industry to bring their business online in a beautiful way, transforming their vision into a powerful online presence through web design.
Coordinated and communicated with clients to better understand their brand, their business goals and their visual vision.
Launched web presence for 15 new businesses and gave new life to outdated websites for 30+ clients.
3. Freelance graphic designer resume sample
Graphic Designer, Mark Alphonse Art, San Diego, CA | January 2018 - Present
Collaborated with a wide range of clients - in industries including but not limited to hospitality and tourism, food and beverage, education and government - to create powerful graphics and visual concepts that met their specific requirements and goals.
Launched brand identities for 20+ clients, including logo development, color schemes and font selection.
Designed product packaging for a new line of dog food, helping the client stand out in their specific niche.
Delivered high-quality graphic design work on limited schedules through effective time management and client communication.
Coordinated with local printers to produce offline graphics, such as catalogs and advertisements.
Are you ready for more? Download right below the pack with 5 extra resume samples!
Ready? Start writing!
Now that you know how to put freelance work on your resume, it’s time to get out there and start writing the best resume you possibly can.
Once you’ve landed your next freelance gig, use your free Bonsai trial to take your business to the next level, with professional looking freelance proposals, bulletproof contracts, smart invoicing, precise time tracking, and more.