Resume Tip Tuesday: How to Join the Dots Between Freelance Jobs on Your Resume

Posted January 27, 2015

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Freelance Resume

If you're an artist, contractor or freelancer looking to step back into steady employment, you may be a little nervous about how your prospective employer will view your resume.

Freelance jobs are by their very nature short term and rarely long-lasting. With employers placing value in a steady and long-term employment record, how do you show your potential new boss that you will be a committed, trustworthy new hire?

1. Highlight Job-Related Trends on Your Resume

If your employment history is particularly sparse or disjointed, your potential employer may not have the time or patience to join the dots by themselves and see why you're a great fit for this particular job. It's up to you to hold the hiring manager's hand and show them exactly what each freelance/ contract job has taught you that relates to the job you're applying for.

Here's an example:

Let's say you want to become an entry-level Graphic Designer, but your background is a hodge-podge of unconnected part-time work including gardening, painting, chef work and similar.

For each job you put on your resume, list 3 aspects of the job that involved you designing things. This will show that while you might not have concrete work experience in the field of graphic design, you have a great sense of color and design.

So for the gardening job, perhaps you produced sketches of landscaping plans, or designed colorful ornamental flowerbeds. For the painting job, highlight how you helped design the home's color scheme.

Emphasize the common elements in each freelance job that tie in with your desired full-time job, and you could be onto a winner.

2. List Only Relevant Work Experience

If you have a large number of freelance or contractor positions in a variety of different industries, consider picking and choosing which positions you list. This will immediately cut down on the 'fluff' (unrelated jobs) in your resume, and prevent the hiring manager from skim-reading to skip over the non-relevant jobs.

This may create a number of employment gaps. If you are worried about this, add the heading 'Relevant Work Experience' to the top of the Employment section.

3. Make Your Job Progression Obvious

With most jobs these days attracting 100+ resumes for each advertised position, the hiring manager isn't going to spend time carefully studying your resume to see if you have a good strong job progression. An ideal resume to him or her (for the open position of Graphic designer) looks like this:

Graphic Design Intern

Junior Graphic Designer

Senior Graphic Designer

That is an oversimplification, but if every job title you've had is completely different, your resume may get tossed out if it looks like you are just grabbing whatever job will hire you first, rather than building a career.

Make life simple for your new boss by:

  • Adding a line or two at the top of each job listing, explaining how this job helped you grow/ progress in your desired industry or job title.
  • Making strategic use of bold to highlight job duties or responsibilities in each position that shows your growing experience in your desired job title. That way, these bolded phrases will jump out at the hiring manager as his or her eye moves down the page.

4. Make Full Use of Your Summary

If your freelance jobs are really wild and outlandish, or you have little or no relevant work experience to draw on for your desired job, use the Summary as a miniature 1-paragraph cover letter to give the hiring manager a good, solid explanation of why you are applying for this job.

You should express your motivation and drive to take on the job, and explain to the hiring manager how your freelance work experience has helped you build a solid foundation for the work you'll be doing.

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