By Alyssa Gregory

Does A Freelancer Need A Resume?

By Alyssa Gregory

resumeWe know that a résumé is essentially a tool to get you in the door for an interview, a meeting or some other targeted opportunity. It outlines your education and experience, and it can be your first impression on a potential boss or colleague. Most of us have used one at some point in our careers.

But if you’re a full-time freelancer or business owner, do you need to bother with a résumé? The answer is yes and no.

When You May Need a Résumé


When you’re in business for yourself, it typically becomes more important to provide examples demonstrating proven experience, relevant successes, and client references. A résumé is not really the best format to do that; see below for some ways you can modify a résumé format to suit your needs as an entrepreneur.

Then what are some situations when you may need to dust off and revise your résumé? Here are some possibilities:

  • You are going back to work for someone else.
  • You are applying for membership in a professional organization.
  • You are applying for an industry-specific certification.
  • You are applying as a presenter or exhibitor at a conference.
  • You are bidding on a job with a large company or organization.

How to Include Freelancing on a Résumé

If you’re in the I-need-a-résumé group, you will need to incorporate your freelancing or business ownership endeavors with any other experience you may have.

As a business owner, you can simply include your company information along with the rest of your experience. You can also go into a little detail about the type of work you do, if you manage a team, and the type of clients you’ve worked with.

As a freelancer, it gets a bit trickier, especially if you have worked with a number of businesses for short-term projects. You want to avoid giving the employer the impression that you are just including freelancing to fill a chronological hole during a time when you were unemployed.

The best way to do this is by identifying each company you’ve worked with and list your title as Freelancer. You can also include a brief description of the work you did if it’s relevant. It’s also a good idea to include some of your freelancing clients as references, if you are asked to provide them.

I should also note that in many cases where you’re applying for membership or certification, you may be asked to provide a Curriculum Vitae (CV). A CV is basically a souped-up résumé; it’s longer and includes a lot more information than a standard resume. For more information on writing a CV, see this Curriculum Vitae Guide on About.com.

Alternatives to a Traditional Resume

As a business owner, I do occasionally get asked for a résumé, but it’s infrequent and almost always another format makes more sense. Many times a client simply doesn’t know what to ask for to validate your experience, and it’s up to you to provide them with the information they need to make a decision.

Here are some ways, other than a traditional résumé, that you can present your background and experience to a potential client:

  • Website – Your about page should give a client enough information to understand who you are and what you do. Combined with your portfolio, this can be a powerful sales tool.
  • Brochure – You can create a printed or electronic document for the sole purpose of giving your clients a way to get to know you. It can include a bio, some case studies, frequently asked questions, a picture, and even a little personal information.
  • Audio/Video – Consider creating an audio or video biography to give clients an even better idea of who you are. Seeing your face and hearing your voice can make a client more likely to trust (and hire) you.

Do you maintain a résumé? Does it help you get more work?

Image credit: magurka

  • Biju

    Resume is not needed if you have a website which showcases your work and client testimonials… that speaks a lot.

  • WebGuy303

    I like the idea of always having an updated resume on hand, even for freelancing purposes. I’ve been in situations where producing a resume made me look a lot more professional than some of the others I was bidding against.

  • devAngel

    I agree with Biju…with a good portfolio, that outlines most of the things I would’ve put in the resume.

  • freelancer need resume .
    if I need someone to work for me online ,I wanna to know what he can do .

  • freelancer need resume .
    if I need someone to work for me online ,I wanna to know what he can do .
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  • Resume shows that you have your act together in addition to providing a list of experiences and skills to show others making the decision. A bad resume can hurt you, and no resume shows that you are wishy washy.

  • The simplest reason why a designer should have a PDF, print resume is that the websites or online portfolios might suffer downtime…Another reason is that a prospective client can always carry your resume along with him while traveling etc and study them carefully. This can be done even if he doesn’t have net connectivity.

  • Despite being a freelancer for a very long time, I have always maintained a resume. Needless to say that, It has invariably helped me a great deal in selling myself to prospective clients.

    Moreover, the upside of putting it in your website is that often potential clients find it online, pore over the every bit of skills you have mentioned, and contact you directly if they decide you match their job description.

  • tonychung

    Alyssa already mentioned cases where the resume isn’t meant to help a freelancer get jobs, but instead provides a quick overview of the freelancer’s history and credentials for the benefit of others representing the freelancer in a variety of situations. For instance, most agencies and project managers bring a selection of suitable resumes when entering the work discussion with a large client.

    Your resume could help the project manager get the job, which would then bring more work back to you, because it demonstrates the caliber of the project manager’s team. In the case of bidding as a conference presenter, your resume provides the necessary credentials good organizers need to be able to introduce you. I hate writing my own profiles. I’d rather my organizer use my material and make up something that fits the style of their programs.

  • Surely, Resume is good, but showing actual work implementation helps.
    In this case, a website could be your best resume. It can help showcase ones skill as well as his portfolio.
    As a freelancer, I will need a strong resume, but a resume can always be backed up, by a proof like a website/brochure.
    Great article. Thanks.

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