Flake or Freelancer? How to Outline Self-Employment on a Resume - Undergrad Success

Flake or Freelancer? How to Outline Self-Employment on a Resume

Flake or Freelancer? How to Outline Self-Employment on a Resume
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It’s tough to write a resume as a freelance or contract worker. For one, having many clients means having many entries in your resume’s work experience section, which can make for a long document. Another problem? If your freelance resume isn’t organized properly you can look like a compulsive job hopper rather than a successful contract worker.

Figuring out how to write about self-employment on a resume can be tricky but it’s certainly not impossible. Whether you are employed full-time and driving Lyft on the weekends, or earning your living as a fully self-employed person, we’ll show you how to show off your work ethic and your professional successes in a way that will make sense to recruiters.

Show Off Self-Employment on a Resume with the Right Resume Format

When learning to write about self-employment on a resume, it’s all about the presentation. Do your research to choose a resume format that will help you show off your stellar client list and your most impressive achievement in a clear, concise manner.

There are three main resume formats: chronological, functional, or combination (also known as a hybrid format). Every self-employed person’s situation is different, so consider the benefits of each resume format as you decide how to write a resume for contract work.


The most popular resume format among recruiters, the chronological format lists projects and freelance gigs in order, starting with the most recent. Hiring managers prefer this resume style because the progression of a jobseeker’s career is easy to follow. For those workers who are organizing self-employment on a resume, however, be beware that this format has the potential to get very long if you have had a plethora of clients over the years. If you choose to write your resume in this format, you might narrow down your work experience section to the most impressive clients, or those clients with whom you have the most longevity.


The functional resume format focuses on skills over work experience, which can be a boon for those writing about self-employment on a resume. If you do the same type of contract work over and over again – as a freelance writer, for example – the functional resume format allows you to corral all of your skills into a single section and create a comprehensive list of clients without making your resume overly long. The downside is that recruiters may have difficulty following your career trajectory when individual jobs aren’t listed by date.


Some workers who are including self-employment on a resume favor the hybrid resume format. This format highlights skills and also offers a linear look at past employment. If you choose this format, you might consider arranging all of your contract work under a single header in your work experience section. Or, you could create separate resume sections – “Work Experience” and “Freelance Projects” – help differentiate between the two.

Write a Professional Summary That Explains Self-Employment

When outlining self-employment on a resume, your professional summary is your best weapon again looking like a job hopper. Here, you have the space to make clear to a recruiter that you are a busy contract worker.

When done properly, the prominence of the professional summary explains right out of the gate that you are a freelance worker and not a worker who changes jobs every few months. Getting this fundamental bit of information out in the open right away is critical to holding a recruiter’s interest.

But don’t just explain that you are a freelancer in your professional summary – also use it to highlight your most desirable selling points. Also, this is a chance to do some name-dropping of your most well-known clients, which will show that you are a sought-after worker.

Here is one example of how to write a professional summary that explains self-employment on a resume:

Seasoned freelance writer with 12 years of experience writing articles, blog posts, whitepapers, and press releases for a variety of clients. Experience and skills includes interviewing sources, research, AP Style, and the use of content management systems.

Final Thoughts on Including Self-Employment on a Resume

Organization is key when writing about self-employment on a resume. To that end, only include the most relevant information to the job at hand. For example, if you’re applying for work as a freelance graphic designer but also drive for Uber on the side, you probably don’t need to include your driving experience on your graphic design resume.

Similarly, a clean driving record might temp a hiring manager in some areas of the gig economy but the hiring manager at the design firm likely won’t be interested.

Customize your resume for each role for the most impact. This will likely require you to create multiple resumes for different applications. While the basics of each will likely be the same, the presentation of your skills may differ.

Want to learn more about how to write a resume as a freelance or contract worker? A professional resume builder makes creating an attention-grabbing document a breeze. Pair your resume with a well-crafted cover letter to fully convey your skills and experience as a freelancer.

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Since 2005, LiveCareer's team of career coaches, certified resume writers and savvy technologists have been developing career tools that have helped over 10 million users build stronger resumes, write persuasive cover letters and develop better interview skills. Land the job you want faster using our free Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder. Also check out our Resume Samples, which include a selection of No Experience Resume Samples that are perfect for college students.

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