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How to list self-employment on your resume if it was full-time work

If you’ve been working full time in a self-employed capacity, simply list it on your resume like you’d include “traditional” work in a regular work experience section.

1. Choose an accurate job title

As a self-employed professional, you can pick your own job title.

However, the job title you put on your resume should reflect the actual work you do. So even if you’re the owner of “Aaron Chen’s Window Cleaning Services,” list your job title as “Window Cleaner” if that’s what you spend the majority of your time doing.

Saying you’re the “CEO” or “Director” might be somewhat accurate, but may make hiring managers think you’re overqualified.

Decide what to put in the company name field

When you write your company’s name (even if you were just a freelance writer) on your resume, you have several options. You can either:

  1. write “Self-Employed”, “Freelancer”, or “Contractor”
  2. list your company’s name (for example, if you registered one for tax purposes)
  3. if you did the bulk of your projects for one (or more) companies, you can list those company names

Here’s how each of these options would look:

Listing companies you collaborate with

If you collaborated with any prestigious or well-known companies, you can also fit that information into your work experience bullet points. For example:

  • Performed 47 coding tasks for companies such as Apple, Acer, and HTC

Skills for Self-Employed Resume

Because some hiring managers assume that being self-employed means you work alone and lack interpersonal skills, addressing this concern on your resume is vital.

If your job title suggests you work by yourself, try to include a bullet point that showcases your interpersonal and people skills.

For example, if you worked as a window cleaner:

  • Communicated with an average of 47 clients per week, discussing their cleaning needs, making small talk to build a rapport and customer loyalty, and listening to and acting on their feedback

And if you work on a computer, perhaps in your home office, you could focus on collaborative work to show you have effective communication skills:

  • Use Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom to interface with project leaders for 7+ hours a week

Here’s How to List Freelance Work on Resume

Putting freelance work on resume has some specifics too. Here are the main guidelines:

  1. Sustain consistency throughout the work section. Write “Freelance [your job title]”. This way, your resume will be easy to read and compact, and the ready will easily see what you’ve done as a freelancer.
  2. List long-term freelance jobs as normal ones. This method will make them stand out and attract more attention. Additionally, it will be easier to give a description of what you’ve done for such experiences.
  3. Always mention big organizations you’ve worked for. Big names immediately will impress most recruiters. Important clients mean you know how to execute your work excellently.
  4. Exclude any irrelevant information. This is one of the biggest issues with freelance work on resume. During freelancing periods, people perform a lot of and all kinds of tasks. Not all of them, however, are really relevant to the job they are applying to, so, in the result, recruiters read big amounts of information they don’t even need to process. This definitely doesn’t make them happy and can end up in you being declined a job offer.

Self employment and independent contractor bullet point examples

If you’re stuck on exactly what accomplishments to list under your self employment, here are a few examples to get you started:

Analyzed data from 25000 monthly active users and used outputs to guide marketing and product strategies; increased average app engagement time by 2x and 30% decrease in drop off rateDrove redevelopment of internal tracking system in use by 125 employees, resulting in 20+ new features, reduction of in save/load time and 15% operation time Identified steps to reduce return rates by resulting in an eventual $75k cost savings Overhauled the obsolete legacy source code of two production applications, resulting in increased usability and reduced run time performance by 50%Analyzed data from 25000 monthly active users and used outputs to guide marketing and product strategies; increased average app engagement time by 2x, 30% decrease in drop off rate, and 3x shares Spearheaded a major pricing restructure by redirecting focus on consumer willingness to pay instead of product cost; implemented a three-tiered pricing model which increased average sale 35% and margin 12%Led the transition to a paperless practice by implementing an electronic booking system and a faster, safer and more accurate business system; reduced cost of labor by 30% and office overhead by 10%

How to Put Self-Employed on Your Resume

A. Give yourself a job title

Treat self-employment just like your any other jobs before. Just like traditional work, you need a job title. Make sure that it is right and it reflects the nature of your job. Avoid writing “self-employed” or “self-work.” Use a functional job title like writer, artist, or web designer. Just remember to use the term that best suits your duties.

If it is your first time to write a resume and apply, don’t worry. Here are some terms you can add on your job title:

  • Contractor (e.g., independent contractor)
  • Consultant (e.g., legal consultant)
  • Freelancer (e.g., freelancer designer)
  • President, CEO, Company Owner

B. Create your company name

Just like above you need a company name in every job position. This maintains the resume’s consistency. Again, consider the nature of your work. If you’re having difficulty, use any freelance business name generator. This will give you a bunch of available options.

If you are a freelancer, opt to list your client’s business names. Before you do this, make sure the company acknowledges you. Write the point of contact whom you’ve worked with. There’s a chance their human resources can’t verify your involvement.

C. Write inclusive dates

The reason behind this tip is to avoid the employment gap on the resume. Patching this up is better than leaving your work history with gaps. These are clearly red flags to employers, especially if you don’t have a valid reason behind them.

Your self-employed years are evidence of your career progress. So, before writing your resume, check out our resume writing tips.

D. List your offered services and highlight notable projects and clients

It is with great importance that you list the works you performed. In this part, be more specific. The employers need to see the specific services you rendered to your clients. Doing so will help employers see what you can offer to them.

Moreover, you highlight notable projects and clients on the inclusive dates. Use visual enhancers to highlight these such as bullet points. Use strong action words and power keywords.

Self-employed resume template

The template below indicates what to include in your self-employed resume. Try using it to outline your own resume.

[Full name][Address • Phone number • Email address • Website]

[Objective or summary][Brief description of your career goals or short summary of your professional accomplishments]

Experience

[Title, Company: Employment dates]

[Bullet list that includes your responsibilities and contributions for each role, including a separate entry for your self-employment experience]

Education

[Degree, University: Graduation date][Mention of your major, GPA and honors you received]

Certifications

[List of any professional certifications you hold]

Skills

[List of relevant soft and technical skills]

Marketable Job Skills

Most job seekers follow a standard resume format and include their self-employment endeavors with other work experiences. If following a chronological format, you can use self-employment to fill any gaps in your resume. A functional resume incorporates the skills you honed while working for yourself.

For example, if you were out of work and ran ads offering freelance services, you could elaborate on the jobs you landed and the specific self-employed skills that were required. For example, N26 suggests that a freelance marketing specialist might mention expert knowledge of data analytics, search engine optimization and customer relationship management software.

Outline the nature of your work and services

Like any other role on your CV, it’s worth outlining the nature of your self-employment or side gig. Just below your job title, company and dates of employment, add a couple of lines that summarise what you do, the types of clients you have or the industries you work across, for example.

Don’t feel like you have to go overboard with detail here. Ultimately, you need to give the recruiter a sense of what you’re all about, and, if possible, reference anything that’s in line with the job you’re applying for. For example, if the job you want is within the health care sector and one of your clients sat within this niche, say so.

FAQs

What’s the difference between self employment, consulting, freelance work, and independent contracting?

Consulting, freelance, and contract work are all different types of self employment.

Independent Contractors work for companies on a contractual basis. These can be long-term or short-term contracts, and may or may not have a firm end date. Independent contractors typically work on one project at a time and may do work similar to that of a regular employee, including working on-site, but are responsible for their own payroll, taxes, and specific working arrangements.

Freelancers often work on multiple projects for different clients at once. They tend to work remotely (from home or a shared work space) rather than from a client’s office. Freelancers typically aren’t bound by strict work agreements, leaving them free to take on as much or as little work as they choose — hence the name.

Consultants are usually experienced, high-ranking professionals with a background in their specific field. Instead of working directly for companies, they are hired to solve problems and provide big picture solutions, generally commanding high rates commensurate with their expertise.

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