3 key takeaways
- What self-employment is
- Best practices for creating a self-employed job description
- How to put self-employed on a resume using the free Teal AI Resume Builder
If you’ve ever worked as a contractor, a freelancer, or a small business owner, you are someone who has been self-employed.
Thanks to this experience, you know that even when you’re working for yourself, this absolutely counts as real work experience. Beyond what you’d learn in a more traditional job, you’re also growing in areas like time management, taking initiative, and problem-solving.
The key is learning how to take this valuable work history and translate it onto self-employed resumes to increase your chances of landing a job.
Sound like a tall order? Here’s what you need to know about the best method of how to put self-employed work on your resume (with self-employed resume examples included).
Decoding self-employment: Why it matters on your resume
"Self-employed" is a fairly broad term. At its most basic level, it means that you worked independently, for yourself (rather than, for example, working with one specific company). But the life of a self-employed professional can vary widely, looking like:
- Freelancing: With freelance work, your schedule is highly flexible, working with multiple clients (whom you choose) on short-term projects.
- Sole proprietorship: Most freelancers are sole proprietors. In other cases, sole proprietors are considered business owners who can do things like hire employees.
- Contract work: An independent contractor generally has a working relationship with a single client on longer, fixed-term projects.
- Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs make money by starting and building a business.
- Partnership: A partnership is the next step up from a sole proprietorship. It’s a business owned by two or more people.
- Consulting: Consultants are often independent contractors—people who offer expert advice to private companies.
While these are all types of self-employed experiences, many of these terms carry some overlap. If you don’t know which one best describes your work and employment history, fall back on “self-employed.”
Should you put self-employment on your resume?
Including career-focused experiences—such as freelance writing on the side, contract work between full-time jobs, or even opening a small business—can help prove your flexibility and resourcefulness. (But remember, listing every job title or experience you’ve ever had might not be relevant. Hiring managers probably don’t care about that lemonade stand you had in middle school.)
Outside of more general job skills (like interpersonal skills), people who are self-employed also commonly specialize in a certain type of work. You can showcase any technical competencies or hard skills in the "About Me" section of your self-employed resume and beyond.
Practical guide: Listing self-employment on your resume
In many ways, adding self-employed work to your resume will look the same as adding any other job or work experience on your resume. You’ll want to include:
- A job title (that clearly signals you were self-employed)
- A company name
- The dates you started and ended each position or gig (dividing up certain freelance projects, for example)
- Bullet points with compelling descriptions of what you did
- A well-written resume summary
- Additional skills, certifications, or successes
But figuring out what to put for the company name when self-employed can be tricky. One option is to include a header that says “Freelance” or “Contract” and list multiple independent contracting clients as subheaders under that:
- Freelance Writer
- XYZ Company
- ABC Company
Another is to name your job title and the client or company on the same line, with further description underneath:
- ABC Company — Freelance Graphic Designer
If you have your own business, you can include your business name. Just make sure to denote that you’re an entrepreneur rather than an employee.
Finally, if you don’t have much space to include your self-employed experience, it’s okay not to name any companies at all. Simply say “Consultant” or “Freelancer” with a couple of brief sentences about your self-employed work experience, mentioning specific personal projects where you achieved results:
Articulating your self-employed role: Creating a compelling job description
Once you’ve figured out a good header, the next step is writing a self-employed job description for a resume that explains exactly what you did as your own boss.
This means adding relevant achievements (with metrics, wherever possible); using strong action verbs (achieved, exceeded, generated); and staying honest about what you did or didn’t do
But as you list self-employment experiences on a resume, you’ll want to specifically highlight any self-employed skills you acquired or honed during those experiences that you might not have gotten during a traditional 9-5. For example, did you:
- Improve your time management and organizational skills by working on multiple new client projects at once?
- Market yourself and your personal brand on social media to gain more clients?
- Adapt your work to fit the different guidelines of each company you worked with?
These are all great details that you should weave into a self-employed resume summary.
Should you put your small business on your resume? Sure! If you’ve ever started your own small business, this is a great detail to include on your resume—this is something that not everyone has done. Describe yourself as business owner, CEO, or manager, whichever one feels most appropriate for you as a self-employed professional. If you have a company website, you can add it as a bullet point along with your contact details.
Self-employed resume examples
Full-time self-employed sample resume
Looking for a sample self-employed resume to impress a hiring manager? Take a look at the work experience section of this self-employed photographer resume. As one of the best resume templates, this self-employed resume example breaks down the job seeker's self-employed projects into bullet points:
Self Employed Photographer
01/2023 – 04/2023
Captured Moments Photography
- Developed and implemented a comprehensive marketing plan, resulting in a 30% increase in client inquiries and a 20% increase in bookings within the first year.
- Collaborated with industry professionals to organize and host a successful photography exhibition, attracting over 500 attendees and generating significant media coverage.
- Established a streamlined system for organizing and storing client images, improving efficiency by 25% and ensuring quick and easy access to files for future projects.
Photography Business Manager
09/2022 – 12/2022
- Created a visually stunning and user-friendly website to showcase portfolio and services, resulting in a 40% increase in website traffic and a 15% increase in client conversions.
- Developed a pricing structure that maximized profitability while remaining competitive in the market, leading to a 10% increase in average project revenue.
- Implemented a client payment tracking system, reducing late payments by 20% and improving cash flow management.
07/2022 – 09/2022
- Researched and invested in high-quality photography equipment and software, resulting in enhanced image quality and increased client satisfaction.
- Stayed up-to-date on industry trends and techniques, incorporating new styles and editing methods into work, resulting in a 15% increase in client referrals.
- Developed an efficient system for editing and retouching images, reducing editing time by 30% and ensuring timely delivery of final products to clients.
Part-time Self-employed sample resume
If your self-employment experience is more of a side project, here’s what this freelance work on your resume might look like for a freelance artist, who has a full-time job while also doing freelance work:
01/2023 – 04/2023
- Collaborated with a team of designers and developers to create a series of digital illustrations for a popular mobile game, resulting in a 25% increase in downloads and a 15% increase in revenue.
- Managed a project to create a series of sculptures for a public art installation, completing the project on time and within budget, resulting in positive feedback from the community and local media.
- Created a series of logos and branding materials for a startup company, resulting in a 50% increase in brand recognition and a successful launch of their product.
3D Animator and Illustrator
09/2022 – 12/2022
- Developed a series of 3D models and animations for a virtual reality experience, resulting in a 40% increase in engagement and positive feedback from users.
- Collaborated with a team of artists and designers to create a series of illustrations and animations for a children's book, resulting in a successful launch and positive reviews from readers.
- Created a series of digital paintings for a client's website, resulting in a 30% increase in website traffic and engagement.
Illustrator and Animator
07/2022 – 09/2022
- Collaborated with a team of artists and designers to create a series of storyboards for a video game, resulting in a successful launch and positive reviews from players.
- Created a series of illustrations and animations for a social media campaign, resulting in a 20% increase in engagement and positive feedback from followers.
- Developed a series of sculptures for a public art installation, resulting in positive feedback from the community and local media.
Self-employed entrepreneur sample resume
For a freelance event planner, a self-employed resume sample might look like this:
Freelance Event Planner
01/2023 – 04/2023
- Developed and executed a high-profile corporate gala, resulting in a 30% increase in attendance and a 25% increase in sponsorships, exceeding client expectations.
- Managed a team of 15 event staff and volunteers, ensuring seamless coordination and execution of all event logistics, resulting in a flawless attendee experience.
- Implemented a comprehensive marketing strategy, including social media campaigns and targeted email marketing, resulting in a 40% increase in event registrations.
09/2022 – 12/2022
- Organized and executed a series of fundraising events for a non-profit organization, raising over $100,000 in donations and exceeding fundraising goals by 20%.
- Negotiated contracts with vendors and suppliers, achieving cost savings of 15% without compromising the quality of services and products.
- Developed and implemented a comprehensive event timeline and budget, resulting in efficient resource allocation and cost control, saving the client 10% on overall event expenses.
07/2022 – 09/2022
- Created and executed a large-scale conference for a technology company, managing a budget of $500,000 and achieving a 15% cost savings through strategic vendor negotiations.
- Developed and implemented a comprehensive safety plan, ensuring compliance with all regulations and guidelines, resulting in zero safety incidents during the event.
- Evaluated event success through attendee surveys and feedback, resulting in a 95% satisfaction rate and valuable insights for future event planning.
Extra resume sections: Additional ways to showcase your self-employment experience
Once you’ve finished describing the bulk of your self-employment work experience, you may want to consider adding additional sections to highlight any of the following:
- Certifications: Certifications you’ve earned can help add credibility.
- Publications: If you were interviewed or featured in an industry publication, this may be worth including on your self-employed resume.
- Awards: Extra space in your self-employment resume can be filled with any awards you may have won as a result of your self-employed skills.
Mentioning specific projects can be helpful, too. For instance, maybe you worked on a huge website revamp or created a marketing strategy from the ground up. These are good projects to include on a self-employed resume.
The significance of self-employment on your resume
Including freelance, consulting, or entrepreneurship work on your resume is a helpful way to give hiring managers a comprehensive view of your experience and soft skills.
And you don't need to hire a certified professional resume writer to create a standout resume. Once you learn how to list self-employment on a resume (like the self-employed resume samples shown above), it’s not so hard after all.
Make the process easier with Teal’s free AI Resume Builder. From your contact information to your resume summary all the way down to skills, the Resume Builder uses AI to help you quickly and accurately write a self-employment resume that helps you put your best foot forward for a hiring manager. (Hint: The Work Experience section is especially helpful if you’re looking to add multiple self-employment experiences.)
Self-employed resume FAQs
Are freelance and self-employed the same?
Yes—since freelancers work for multiple clients and control their own schedule, they are self-employed. Other types of self-employment include consulting, contract work, and entrepreneurship.
What should I put on my resume if I’m self-employed?
A good self-employment resume will include details of the clients you worked with, the type of work you did for each one, and the results your client saw as a result.
What do I put for my employer when self-employed?
State that you are self-employed (such as a freelancer or consultant). Then name a few of the clients you’ve worked with.