If you’ve ever been self-employed, then you know how exciting it can be to take your future into your own hands. However, the fact is that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, and some workers eventually wish to return to full-time employment. Additionally, the recent economic recession has led to a significant decline in the number of unincorporated self-employed, as contract jobs and freelance opportunities can be scarce in tough economies.
Although it can be frightening to make the leap from freelance to in-house employment, you can boost your odds of getting hired by building a strong resume that reflects your experiences as a self-employed individual. Instead of being ashamed of your freelance jobs, showcase them in a way that allows potential employers to see your skills and know you’re up to the task.
Here are a few best practices for listing self-employment and contract work on your resume.
1. Take Pains With Title Selection
When it comes to catching a hiring manager’s eye, selecting the right title for your self-employment position can make all the difference. Instead of listing your job title as “freelancer,” create a label that explains your role more clearly. For example, you could call yourself a writer, graphic designer, website developer or consultant.
Additionally, you should let managers know that you ran your own company. By labeling your employment status as “Company Owner” instead of just “Self-Employed,” you show potential employers that you possess leadership and management skills that other candidates might not. The ability to manage other employees or build relationships with clients and vendors can go a long way toward landing you that full-time position.
2. Detail Accomplishments
One of the difficulties of listing self-employment on a resume is that employers may struggle to understand exactly what your old job entailed. To provide the most complete picture, former freelancers should list all of their most significant achievements, such as improving a client’s SEO position, increasing web conversions or growing social media campaigns.
Whenever possible, be sure to provide specific data and percentages to drive your point home. Because many self-employed individuals have more than one client, it can be easy to lose track of what you accomplished at each job. A good rule of thumb is to write out a brief description of the project and its outcome as soon as you finish. After all, you don’t want to forget anything that might help you land that new gig.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to include details regarding other responsibilities you held. It’s not uncommon for freelancers to wear a number of hats, so let employers know if you handled the company’s human resources and accounting needs along with your other tasks.
3. Include References
As a self-employed person, you are likely working with multiple clients at a single time. As a result, you have the advantage of being able to handpick those customers or collaborators most likely to give you a great review.
Before listing references on your resume, check that they’re not just wiling but also eager to refer your services. Although most clients won’t speak negatively about someone who asked for a reference, a savvy hiring manager can detect a lack of enthusiasm in someone’s responses.
You should also pre-discuss questions an employer is likely to ask and make sure you both remember your work experience in the same way. The last thing you want is a discrepancy between what you say on your resume and what your reference reveals on the phone.
4. Avoid Apologies
It’s only natural to be upset when a self-employment opportunity doesn’t work out the way you intended. However, almost everyone experiences employment setbacks during the course of a career, and you should never apologize for time spent as a freelancer.
Instead, use your resume’s objective statement to highlight your passion and ambition, and be sure to explain how they will translate to your new role. The fact that you ran a business should make you more desirable—not less—in the eyes of hiring managers.
Because most employers will want to know why you’re making the switch from freelance to in-house, it’s a good idea to address this question head-on in your resume or cover letter. Instead of saying you started your own company to escape a bad work situation or to be your own boss, stress the fact that you wanted to seek new challenges and improve client services.
Since supervisors may worry that you’ll strike out on your own again, strive to reassure them that you are ready to build a long and lasting career with their company. Employers want to feel confident that they are your first choice, so let them know you’re ready to leave freelancing behind and join the corporate world once again.
Even if it doesn’t work out in the long term, self-employment can provide you with a wide array of skills that will serve both you and your future bosses as well. Instead of apologizing for your freelance work, showcase it proudly on your resume and explain how the creativity and ambition that made you strike out on your own will be a boon to your new company.
For more information on being self-employed, read our article on the hidden costs of being self-employed.