Adding gig work to your CV can play to your creativity and strengths.
Just because you’re self-employed, it doesn’t mean you can’t add this valuable experience to your CV. Whether your freelance work is your primary job or a side gig, it deserves to be documented on your CV, not only because it’s a fundamental component of your employment history, but also because it plays to your strengths.
Understandably, it can seem a little tricky adding this type of work to your CV because it’s somewhat untraditional. But CVs are relatively flexible in structure and formatting; they can be tweaked and tailored to display your winning traits in the best possible way and impress a prospective employer.
With that in mind, here’s what to consider when including self-employment on your CV.
Identify the best way to structure your CV
The layout of your CV is critical. If your employment history isn’t documented in a clear and consistent format, the hiring manager may end up confused and shift their focus to the next candidate.
If you’ve swapped your nine-to-five for a full-time freelancing gig, it might be best to weave your self-employment into your employment history section. Essentially, you would be presenting your self-employment as another role that sits neatly in your timeline of past positions.
Alternatively, if your freelance work is a side gig, you might like to introduce a new section outside of your career highlights that summarises the nature of your work and the projects you’ve undertaken.
Assign yourself a job title that’s related to your work
It’s perfectly fine if you want to give yourself the title of ‘Freelancer’. However, I’d advise using your job title more to your advantage; you have the power to craft a title that is descriptive and immediately tells a prospective employer exactly what you do.
Ensure that your job title reflects the nature of your work. Try combining either of the terms ‘freelancer’, ‘consultant’ or ‘contractor’ with an adjective that summarises your industry, role or niche. For example: ‘Freelance Writer and Editor’ or ‘SEO Consultant’.
Include a company name if appropriate
If you are a full-time freelancer, you may have set up a limited company. If this is the case, document this on your CV. However, if the company is just your name, you may want to expand on it with some descriptive language so the potential employer gets a feel for the industry you work in.
Keep your formatting consistent with the other work listed on your CV so that it looks purposeful, seamless and polished.
Outline the nature of your work and services
Like any other role on your CV, it’s worth outlining the nature of your self-employment or side gig. Just below your job title, company and dates of employment, add a couple of lines that summarise what you do, the types of clients you have or the industries you work across, for example.
Don’t feel like you have to go overboard with detail here. Ultimately, you need to give the recruiter a sense of what you’re all about, and, if possible, reference anything that’s in line with the job you’re applying for. For example, if the job you want is within the healthcare sector and one of your clients sat within this niche, say so.
Name-drop impressive clients and projects
Always be selective with the clients and projects listed on your CV and make your choices based on the position you’re applying for. In addition to the projects that relate to your potential new role, you may also like to name-drop any big, impressive clients, or even simply your favourites.
When adding details about projects, use punchy, concise bullet points to highlight your marketable skills and achievements. You can add these bullet points either underneath each client or project, or perhaps underneath your outline, which I referenced above.
Link out to your portfolio
Your CV should be around two pages in length. If you’ve worked on lots of small projects or have been self-employed for a long time, it can be difficult to fit your experience on your CV without compromising quality.
Don’t be afraid to link out to certain projects you’ve listed on your CV, or even link to your portfolio at the top, next to your name and contact details. As CVs are sent digitally these days, it’s easy to link out, so make the most of the opportunity to direct prospective employers to live examples of your work and abilities.
The U.K. has over 2 million freelancers, and this figure is expected to rise over the coming years as this type of work allows for independence and flexibility. Rest assured that your self-employment and side gigs are legitimate experiences worth shouting about on your CV. Just keep these pointers in mind when documenting the details so you present your abilities in a way the benefits your job application.
Have you effectively included your self-employment on your CV? TopCV’s free, objective critique will tell you how you fared. Submit your CV here.