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Five Resume-Writing Essentials for Freelancers

By Michelle Kruse

The freelance economy is booming, as more and more professionals are choosing the flexibility that comes with a freelance career. In fact, studies have shown that 15 percent of the workforce now identifies as "contingent labor" -- i.e., freelancers and temp workers -- and that number continues to grow. There's never been a better time to take the plunge toward professional independence. That said, freelancing does come with its share of challenges.

Besides fighting the stereotype that they spend their days sitting around in their pajamas, freelancers can find it difficult to put together a cohesive resume. With so many different gigs happening at so many different times, a freelancer's resume stands the danger of looking scattered in comparison to more conventional CVs.

And while some freelancers may rarely even use a resume, for most, it's a critical tool to ensure a steady workflow. The truth is, freelancers have their own rules when it comes to resume-writing.

Freelancing is a nontraditional career choice, so it doesn't quite make sense to approach freelance resumes as you would traditional ones. While certain key rules apply to all job-seekers, freelancers should consider taking a modified approach to resume-writing.

Read on for five tips for helping your freelance resume stand out from the full-time crowd.

Maintain a running draft resume

Don't wait until someone requests a resume to throw one together.

Instead, keep track of projects with a rough draft, running resume that you can easily cut and edit depending on what type of job you're applying for.

Bonus: This will help you keep track of the various projects you work on. Believe me, after a few years of freelancing, your gigs can start to blend together.


Be selective and strategic

Most freelancers who've been working independently for a significant amount of time have built up a large and diverse body of work. There's no way you can fit everything you've done onto one page, so instead simply choose the projects that are most relevant to the job you're applying to.

These projects may not even represent your best, most impressive work; instead, they should make a convincing case for the particular job you want. Try your best to restrict it to one page.


Consider writing a skills-based resume

Many recruiters prefer a resume to be in the standard chronological format, but for a freelancer, sometimes a skills-based resume just makes more sense.

That way, you can group highlights from similar projects under specific categories, such as "design," "editorial," or "project management."

Be sure to include dates in your description of each project.


Don't ignore resume-writing basics

Just because your job allows you to create a slightly more creative resume doesn't mean you can disregard the basic rules of resume-writing.

You'll still want to avoid colorful paper, crazy graphics, and unprofessional language. Utilize action verbs to engage the reader and use numbers to definitively describe accomplishments (i.e. increased page views by 200 percent or raised $10,000). Recruiters for any position will appreciate a resume that is clearly written and easy to navigate.


Don't underestimate the power of your resume

For a freelancer, a resume is a particularly powerful tool, outlining skills and accomplishments in a way that a job title or a business card simply can't.

This unassuming piece of paper allows you to craft a narrative about your career and build your personal brand -- so show it off! Be sure to include your resume on your website and LinkedIn page and consider sharing it with potential employers even if they don't ask for it.


Are you a freelancer with an awesome resume? Please share your ideas for making it stand out!

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