Do you have freelance work experience? If you’ve done a significant amount of freelance work, it’s worth putting this experience on your resume to help employers get a better sense of your full work history and understand the transferable skills you’ve gained. However, listing freelance gigs without overloading your resume can be tricky. Let’s learn how to do it right.
3 key takeaways:
- Whether you should put freelance work on your resume
- Where and how to add freelance gigs
- Freelance resume examples and Teal’s AI-powered Resume Builder to help you get started
Understanding freelance work on resumes
Before you jump into freelance resumes, it’s helpful to take a step back and make sure you understand what “freelance” actually means.
Generally, freelance work is considered to be any work that you’ve done as a W9 employee (instead of W2), meaning that you worked for yourself rather than an employer. According to a study by McKinsey, 36% of U.S. employees are independent workers (with the total percentage including people who do some independent work on top of permanent employment).
Freelance gigs are often short-term and always part-time; if you’re working 40 hours a week for a single client, this isn’t technically a freelance role, even if you’ve only signed a W9. You can do freelance work for virtually any position—such as content writing, graphic designing, or data analysis. And you have the freedom to work with multiple freelance clients at the same time.
It’s helpful to incorporate any freelance experience into your resume because it proves your work ethic and skills. Even during work experiences when you didn’t hold a full-time position, you still provided value to your client and learned valuable transferable skills that you can take into your next role.
Should I include freelance work on my resume?
Absolutely—but the right kind of freelance work. Any work experiences you add to your resume should serve as a positive reflection of your abilities and expertise. These past gigs should also be relevant to the job(s) you’re now applying for. If they aren’t, there may not be any point in including them.
When and why to include freelance work on your resume
Just because you’ve done freelance work doesn’t necessarily mean you should include it on your resume. Instead, consider each gig through the lens of how helpful it would be for a potential employer. Here are a few scenarios when you should put freelance work on your resume:
- The freelance work is relevant. Would a finance company where you’re applying for a loan specialist position care that you once did graphic design for a fashion retailer? Probably not—but a cosmetics company looking for a copywriter absolutely would.
- It demonstrates transferable skills. Transferable skills are applicable across multiple roles and industries (like communication or creativity). If a certain freelance experience allowed you to demonstrate or gain these kinds of skills, it’s helpful to include.
- It filled an employment gap. Cover up those pesky gaps in your resume by showing how you kept yourself busy with freelance work when you didn’t have a full-time job.
- It was consistent. Unless it was for a major, well-known company, one-off freelance gigs might not be worth the space they’ll take up. Choose freelance experiences that lasted for at least a few months.
- Freelancing was your primary source of income, not just a side gig. If you’ve managed at any point to sustain your career and provide for your family on freelance work alone, that’s impressive! As someone who’s self-employed, you’re responsible for getting out there and finding your own gigs on a regular basis—and that demonstrates the kind of hustle that employers (even those hiring for a W2 position) want to see.
- You achieved noteworthy success. Significant achievements or successes in a freelancing career can boost your resume’s impact.
If a freelance experience doesn’t fit into at least one of these categories, it might be a waste of space.
How to list freelance work on your resume
Figuring out which gigs to include on your resume is an important first step. But simply listing the right work isn’t enough—you also need to list it the right way. Follow these steps to learn how to list freelance work on your resume.
Highlighting your role
Start by clearly stating the work was freelance or contract. You don’t want to represent yourself as being an employee of a certain company when you weren’t. In fact, doing so would likely breach the contract you signed for that freelance work. So make sure you’re 100% clear on what kind of work you did.
Describing freelance work on your resume
Wondering how to write experience on a resume—particularly for freelance gigs? State the clients you worked with and the projects you completed for them. Work experience examples can help you get a feel for what will sound best.
Beyond that, talk about your freelance work the same way you’d talk about any other position. What outcomes and results did you help produce? How did you deliver value in your role? What achievements did you accomplish? Sharing this information will help hiring managers get a feel for what you did in your position.
Where to put freelance work on your resume
When it comes to the sections of a resume, in most cases, your freelance work can go under work experience—which is the most important resume section. Add a heading for each client and a subheading with your role (for example, “Freelance copywriter” and “WritePro”). Then use bullet points to describe what you did.
Another option is to use the projects section to add your freelance work. This is a good place to go into more detail, explaining the tasks you were responsible for while freelancing for a certain client. If relevant, personal or academic projects could also be included (remember, it’s all about those transferable skills).
There’s a place in the achievements or accomplishments section for any freelance successes, too. You can learn more tips on achievement resume sections later in this article.
How to format freelance work on your resume
What is the best resume format for including freelance work on your resume? There are four primary resume formats: chronological, functional, skills-based, and hybrid (which combines chronological and functional). Most resumes use a chronological format to list work experiences in the order they happened. For people with freelance experience, though, a functional resume is likely best. This categorizes your work according to its theme and may be more effective if you were juggling several freelance gigs during the same time period.
Another good option for freelancers is a hybrid resume format. By creating a hybrid resume, you’ll present your experience in chronological format but group your skills and abilities together so they’re easier to highlight.
Examples of listing freelance work on a resume
Your resume might look different based on how much freelance work you’ve done. If you’ve freelanced full-time for several years, your resume will be heavy on the freelance projects. But if freelancing is a side hustle mixed with traditional employment, you might split things up, adding a few freelance clients in the projects section and focusing on your 9-5 job everywhere else.
To see it all in action, check out these examples of freelance work on resumes:
Freelance UX Designer
- Generated ideas based on client customer personas
- Developed websites and software to solve UX problems
- Managed and prioritized multiple client projects simultaneously to meet deadlines for all
Find more examples of Freelance UX Designer resumes
Freelance Front-End Developer
- Heavily customized WordPress as a content management system
- Provided website maintenance, support, and troubleshooting over time
Find more examples of Freelance Front-End Developer resumes
Freelance Content Writer
- Researched, wrote, and edited blog posts, social media copy, and ebooks for clients
- Conducted keyword research and optimized content for SEO
- Adhered to each client’s individual tone of voice and editorial style guide
Find more examples of Freelance Content Writer resumes
Freelance Video Editor
- Created and edited video content for social media, commercials, and PSAs
- Worked with Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Adobe Audition to make creative edits
Find more examples of Freelance Video Editor resumes
Freelance Graphic Designer
- Concepted and designed graphics for social media, brochures, posters, and websites
- Implemented on-brand color, typography, and other design elements
- Collaborated with copywriters on projects like brochures and social media campaigns
Find more examples of Freelance Graphic Designer resumes
- Developed and created digital illustrations for clients
- Researched and developed new techniques and materials
- Collaborated with other artists and designers
Find more examples of Freelance Artist resumes
Freelance Virtual Assistant
- Responded to all emails and phone calls within 24 business hours
- Created and maintained filing system for digital organization
- Created and managed client social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
Find more examples of Freelance Virtual Assistant resumes
How to present freelance achievements on your resume
Work accomplishments or achievements are an important section of any resume. Maybe you increased a company’s sales, reduced costs, or won an employee award. These are all valuable ways to prove the value you bring.
Come up with some accomplishments for resume by considering anything you did that could be expressed in numbers. “Increased annual productivity by 15%” sounds a lot more impressive than “brainstormed ways to reduce meetings,” right? Quantify any achievements you can. Then include these resume accomplishments in your work experience section.
Using Teal’s Resume Builder to showcase your freelance work
Teal’s AI Resume Builder is a great fit for job seekers looking to incorporate their freelance experience into their resume. The Work Experience feature is especially helpful for including freelancing on a resume—AI will guide you in choosing which of your total work experiences to include.
You can also use the Resume Builder’s AI capabilities to enhance your resume summary, achievements, and other sections. Then cross-check your resume’s effectiveness with our resume checker and brush up any areas that could be improved.
Join Teal today to try the free Resume Builder and begin creating a freelance resume that presents your freelance experience to hiring managers in a compelling way.
It can feel confusing to fit freelance work into your resume. But freelance experience has a myriad of benefits! It can show a potential employer that you have initiative, strong time management skills, and a variety of skills. And when presented correctly, this diverse, varied experience is just what you need to help you land a new job. Sign up for your free Teal account to build a better resume today.
FAQs about including freelance work on a resume
Should I include freelance work on my resume?
Sure! Any freelance gigs that positively represent what you do and that are relevant to the job you’re applying for are fair game to go in the work experience or projects section of your resume.
Does freelance work count as work experience?
Absolutely! You’re doing work and you’re getting paid for it, just like you would at a traditional job—you’re just doing it on your schedule instead. Include relevant freelance work in your work experience resume section.
How many freelance clients should I list on my resume?
3-5 is a good rule of thumb. You don’t want your resume to stretch out too long. But it’s good to show that you can manage multiple gigs. Consider choosing the clients that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for now.
How do you list multiple freelance clients on a resume?
Include your freelance clients in the work experience section. Name each client and the role you did for them (for instance, “Freelance graphic designer” and “DesignGuru”). Describe the work you did in a few brief bullet points.
What is the best resume format for freelancers?
The best resume format for freelance work is either a functional or hybrid format. A functional resume organizes your work experience by theme. Hybrid resumes utilize a chronological format but showcase your skills and abilities more heavily.