Freelance Writing Series Part 16: Showing Your Freelance Work on a CV

Article by Jess GatelyImage from Canva Free Stock Images

Freelance work is great because it’s flexible and versatile, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the only sort of work you are doing. Whether a long-term opportunity comes up or you find yourself looking at ongoing work and the client would like to see your CV, many freelancer writers struggle with how to present the variety of work they’ve undertaken in a succinct, meaningful and coherent way.

There are two main types of resume: the chronological type, and the skills-based type. First, let’s discuss how you can present your work on both types.

Chronological CVs

A chronological CV lists positions held by an individual starting with the most recent and moving backwards from there. It usually contains your job title, the name of the business by whom you were employed, and the dates for which you worked for them. Beneath each job title, you include a list of dot points that outline the relevant tasks and skills you used during your time in that role and you may highlight noteworthy projects you worked on.

A chronological CV is really useful if you have a lot of relevant experience in a field and wish to show the variety of employers you’ve worked for. As a freelancer, it’s particularly useful to use a chronological CV if you have freelanced on the side of another full or part time job or if you have freelanced in between jobs.

The easiest way to show freelance work on a chronological CV is to treat your freelance work as a single business. So, you give yourself a job title that reflects the nature of your work (e.g. ‘freelance copywriter’ or ‘editorial consultant’ or ‘contract writer’), and if you have a business name you can list it so that it fits the format of other work on your resume, and then use dot points to highlight the noteworthy projects and/or clients you have worked on.

As with the rest of your CV, you may want to list projects and clients from your most recent or current work and then move through to older work and clients. If you have an online portfolio, make sure the projects you list on your CV can be viewed there and provide links in your resume to the individual projects (don’t forget, most resumes are viewed online or on a computer these days).

As an example, the freelance section of your Chronological CV may look something like this:

Freelance Writer & Editor                                                                                            2009-current
Notable Clients

  • Business Name: write media releases, review website copy, create eDMs promoting the company’s sales and services, create content for social media and blog.
  • Business Name: edit and proofread reports for external industry stakeholders
  • Business Name: update website with new copy, create a social media management strategy

Or it may look something like this:

Writer & Editor – Freelance                                                                                        2009-current

Throughout my 10 years of experience, I have worked on editorial and content projects for clients such as Business Name, Business Name, Business Name, Business Name and many others. My work includes:

  • Writing media releases
  • Front-end web development
  • Native content creation
  • Copywriting: marketing, corporate, sales, technical
  • Proofreading
  • Copy editing
  • Social media management
  • Social media strategy: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, You Tube

Highlights

  • Business name – briefly outline a specific project or campaign you worked on for this business
  • Business name – briefly outline a specific project or campaign you worked on for this business
  • Writing – here is where you can list prizes, awards and specific publications that are different to your normal freelance work (e.g. if you wrote a book)

Depending on how much experience you have depends on how extensive this section may look, but remember; your highlights need to be standouts of your career, so don’t list more than five notable projects.

Skills-based CVs

A skills-based format is another way of organising your CV if you don’t have a lot of work experience or if you’ve been working freelance a long time and don’t have many other roles to include on a chronological CV.

A skills-based CV focuses less on who you’ve worked for and when, and rather on the skills you possess to do the work. Even more so than a chronological CV, a skills-based CV should be updated for each job you apply to in order to reflect the specific skills the employer or client is looking for.

Rather than highlighting the job titles and business you’ve worked for, a skills-based CV highlights specific skills that the employer is looking for and then highlights when you have demonstrated use of this skill. You normally list 4-6 skills that you have that the employer is looking for and then use dot points to briefly outline projects you have worked on where you have been required to utilise that skill.

A skills-based CV focusing on freelance work may look something like this (although please note, you should have more skills and more dot points than used in this example!)

Writing

  • Business Name hired me to update their website copy after a major rebranding project. This project required substantial rewriting of the entire website as well as a review of internal documentation and templates for external communication.
  • Working for Business Name, I was required to update and rewrite technical documents related to policy and procedure, inline with updated government policy in the industry.
  • I have written for Publication name, Publication name, Publication name, and Publication name on the topics of accounting, business setup and marketing.

Marketing

  • I have developed social media marketing strategies for Business Name and Business Name for Campaign Name and Campaign Name.
  • I have written the copy for a radio marketing campaign for Business Name about Product/Service/Campaign Name

Website Management

  • I have experience working with CMS systems, WordPress, SquareSpace, and Wix to update website copy and content directly.
  • I was hired by Business Name to provide SEO support to their website.
  • I worked with Business Name to improve user-interface and the customer experience, as well as updating products with keywords and tags to give users the ability to filter products.

As you can see, this is particularly useful as a method if you have only worked with a small number of businesses or clients but wish to highlight the range of projects you worked on with them.

What to consider when adding Freelance Work to your CV

Choosing what you will and won’t include on your CV is hard work and that is intensified when you work Freelance and have to choose which projects and clients to list. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself when going through this process:

  • Would the work be ‘worthy’ of your resume if you had done it for an employer?
  • Does it relate to your field or area of expertise?
  • Does it relate to the work/skills the employer wants you to have?
  • Does it show expertise in areas that other jobs might not?
  • Would you feel comfortable talking about that project in more detail with your potential employer?
  • Would the client speak favourably of you?
  • Are you proud of the work you produced in that project?

If you’re struggling to find enough freelance work to fit on your resume, perhaps think about leaving it off your resume until you have more experience. If you have only done sporadic freelance work, did one freelance project and then decided it wasn’t for you, or if your work was mostly done for family and friends (especially if it is unpaid), or if you aren’t proud of the work you completed, it may be best to leave freelancing off your CV, at least until you have more experience to list.

Freelance work is a great way to show versatility and adaptability on a CV. Hopefully, this post has given you some ideas on how best to highlight your experience and skills, and to give you a boost in those job applications!

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