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How can you show you were self-employed on a resume? (Without looking like a slacker?)
The struggle is real.
Too many employers see “self employed” and think, “resume gap.”
You can’t let them think that.
Don’t worry. Just show the right skills and achievements on your self-employment resume to outshine the rest.
This guide will show you:
- A self-employed resume sample better than 9 out of 10 others.
- How to list self-employment on resumes.
- How to add self-employment to your resume work history.
- The best skills to list in a resume for self employed applicants.
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Sample resume made with our builder—See more resume examples here.
Are you making a career change from solo work to a day job? See our guides:
- Career Change Resume
- Former Business Owner Resume
- How to List Freelance Work on Your Resume
- How to Show Promotions & Multiple Positions on Your Resume
- How to Explain Gaps in Employment on Your Resume
Wondering how to put self employed on a resume for specific jobs? Try these guides:
Self-Employed Resume Guides for Business:
Self-Employed Resume Samples for Creative Jobs:
- Writer Resume
- Architecture Resume
- Photographer Resume
- Video Editor Resume
- Videographer Resume
- Artist Resume
- Acting Resume
- Makeup Artist Resume
- Music Resume
- Model Resume
- Graphic Designer Resume
- Interior Design Resume
- Bartender Resume
Tech and IT Self-Employed Resume Guides:
Still need more examples? Check Sample Resumes to Land Any Job.
Want to learn how to put self employed on your resume?
How to List Self Employment on Your Resume
The hiring team leader, (we’ll call him Bart)—
He wants to know you can do the work.
Prove it with self-employed resume experience.
To do that:
- Figure out the abilities the job requires.
- Write a work history that shows you have them.
Were you non-staff for five years? Don’t say, “I was self employed.”
Say what job you did.
Show it like the next of our self-employed resume examples.
Self Employed Resume Examples [Experience]
See these sample self-employment resume experience sections.
This one uses the same job title as the online posting.
It’s for a job that wants skills producing corporate videos, managing videographers, and working with high-end clients.
Verley Video Production
The hiring manager would have to have rocks in his head to ignore that.
It works because:
- You showed your solo time as an actual job.
- You listed big achievements that convince.
- You used the right job title.
- You put big numbers in your work history.
But scuttle those accomplishments, and you wind up with the next of our self-employed resume examples:
Self Employed Video Producer
That self-employed resume example could be Shaggy from Scooby Doo.
Use achievements to prove you’re qualified.
Pro Tip: If you ran your own business, use the business name even if it failed. Employers know running a business takes special skills like self-motivation.
Don’t sound like a slacker in your self-employment resumes. See our guide: 240 Resume Action Words & Power Words to Make Your Resume Shine
How to Put Self Employed Projects on a Resume
You’ve done so much your career!
How can you make employers understand?
Add “other” sections to your self-employment resumes.
- Keep your resume to 1–2 pages.
- Use your achievements that prove skills.
In a non-staff videographer resume, list videography accomplishments.
See these two sample self-employed resume examples.
Self Employed Resume Examples [Other Sections]
That’s Peter-Jackson-worthy. That self-employed resume example shows you mean business.
Even the cross-country skiing helps. It shows you’re fit enough to do the job.
But run screaming from this one:
Hmm. The hiring manager may love, “grow my own hops.” But what if he’s a tea-totaler? You’re gambling.
Pro Tip: Got self-employment resume experience that doesn’t match the job skills? Save them for a different job opening.
Make sure you make the most of your project work with help from How to List Projects on a Resume
How to Put Self Employed in a Resume Summary or Resume Objective
You know first impressions happen at the speed of light.
If you don’t impress the team leader right away, he’ll move on.
Show you’re no Peter Griffin, quickly.
Put a couple drop-dead stunners in your resume summary or resume objective.
These two self-employed resume examples show how.
Self Employed Resume Examples [Resume Summaries]
This sample self employed resume summary has it going on:
|Client-focused video producer with 8+ years of experience, skilled in interviewing, writing, shooting, and editing. Seeking to grow revenue massively for Lens Focus Productions. At Verley Video Production, wrote, shot, and edited 150+ corporate client projects. One 20-minute video earned $30 million in revenue. Conducted over 800 in-depth on-camera interviews.|
Yum, right? The hiring team just started blinking rapidly. You put your big guns right up front.
But don’t do it this way:
|Hard-working freelance videographer with 4 years of experience. Highly skilled in writing, shooting, interviewing, and editing. A quick learner with an eye for how to get good shots. Excited to get back into the 9-to-5 life!|
Nobody will read the rest of that applicant’s resume. Including her mother.
Are you a little less experienced than that? Adding self-employment to a resume for entry-level candidates isn’t hard. Just pick your best accomplishments.
Check out this self-employment resume example for beginner software engineers:
|Enthusiastic software engineer with high-level collaboration skills. Expert at C+ and Java. Have developed 10 apps for mobile and web use, including a working Fitbit-style calorie-burn monitor for my kayak with an IMU and a strain gauge, plus an nRF52 for low-power bluetooth. One app has 300+ downloads and a 5-star rating on GetJar.|
Putting self employed on a resume like that will get you noticed.
Pro Tip: Don’t say you were self-employed on the resume. If you had a business name, list that. At least give yourself a job title that matches the one in the online posting.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
Want more help to write the perfect self-employed resume summary or objective? See our guides: +20 Resume Objective Examples - Use Them on Your Resume (Tips) and How To Write A Resume Summary: 21 Best Examples You Will See
How to Put Self Employed Skills on Your Resume
Let’s not sugar-coat it.
If you don’t prove you’re qualified, all the self employed experience in the world is like a lead weight.
To make hiring teams love you:
- Dig for the right skills in the job posting.
- Drill through your past to find when you used them in free-agent life.
- Put them in your self-employment resume bullets.
These self-employed resume examples show how.
Self Employed Resume Examples [Skills]
Let’s say these skills were in the job ad:
Required Skills: 1) radio infomercial production, 2) corporate training videos, 3) Voice overs
Add them to your self-employed skills list.
Then write bullets like this:
- Produced 8 30-minute (1) radio infomercials for broadcast on national markets. One generated $2 million in revenue.
- Created two (2) corporate training videos. One snowmobile safety training video was syndicated among 32 rental agencies in Northern Maine.
- Produced and (3) voiced 11 radio commercials for local and national radio.
What skills should you list?
Find them in the specific job resume guides at the top.
You’ll also need transferable skills.
Transferable Skills for Self Employed Resumes
Hiring managers don’t think you can collaborate.
They think “self employed” means, “does not play well with others.”
So—show evidence you’re a team player.
Use the self-employed skills below as resume keywords.
Best Skills for Self-Employed Resume
- Self motivated
- Interpersonal skills
- Customer service
- Active learning
- Decision making
- Critical thinking
- Physicall fit
- Problem solving
- Detail oriented
Pro Tip: Will self employed resume accomplishments really “prove” your skills? Not beyond a shadow of a doubt, but enough to get you in the interview.
What About a Self Employed Cover Letter?
Should you send a cover letter with self-employed resumes?
You need to show you weren’t just hanging out and playing Fortnite.
To catch the eye:
- Use the manager’s name.
- Restate the job requirements.
- Show you have them.
This mini example self-employed cover letter does the job:
I’m excited to apply for the video producer position at Lens Focus Productions. I absolutely fell in love with your company portfolio page. Your work for Staples, TJX, and Thermo Fisher is engaging and inspiring. I think I’m a fit because of my track record at Verley Video, where I produced over 150 corporate videos for clients like ASML, Callaway Golf, and Raytheon. One video raised over $30 million in revenue.
I noticed you place a high value on teamwork. The three contract videographers I employed...
That cover letter makes a great fit with a self employed resume.
It sets you up as a true professional with all the right strengths.
Pro Tip: How should you end a cover letter for self-employed applicants? With a promise. Try, “I’ll be happy to discuss why one of my videos sold 300,000 copies.”
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
Wondering what to put in a self employed cover letter for your self-employment resume? See our guide: How to Write a Cover Letter in 8 Simple Steps
Summary: How to write a self-employed resume:
- Begin with a self-employed resume summary. Show a big career moment or two that shows you can slay their particular dragon.
- Fit your self-employment resume to the job opening. Demonstrate how your free-agent skills have helped reach client targets.
- Add self employed projects and activities to your resume. Include publications, conferences, awards, and other resume wins.
- Write a self-employed cover letter. Prove you spent your non-W2 time working hard to build solid skills.
How long has it been since you had to write a resume? What worries you most about how to put self employed on your resume? Give us a shout in the comments. We’d love to talk about it.