Resume Basics for Freelancers, Part 2: Wording Your Resume Right
If you’re hanging in with me and considering having a resume—yes, even though you freelance—the next step is to make sure your resume is written well. (Missed Part 1? Read that article first!)
With many new rules in the game, it’s important for freelancers to stay on top of resume-writing trends so they can compete in the marketplace. Because even though you’re a creative freelance, you have to compete with other people and corporations. You have to speak their language. When full-timers get hired, they need resumes. Resumes can be required of freelancers, too. And even if they’re not, it’s good to have one at your disposal.
Even if you’re not looking for full-time employment, a well-written resume shows clients that you take your career seriously and you don’t think you are above using the most basic of career tools.
Here are some tips to help your resume stand out when it comes to wording and spreading the word about what you have to offer!
Today’s resumes rely on keywords to show up in search engines, so you’ll want to make sure yours reflects the right keyword phrases even if you only post your resume to your site. I keep an updated resume on most of the major job boards because you never know who will find you and need your services. While I do get approached for full-time work that I’m not looking for, I’ve also gotten freelance work off major job sites. Good keywords are important no matter where your resume goes—but if it goes online, make sure to include keywords.
You can fit keywords into your profile and in the professional experience section of the document, but consider a core competencies section as well to work in common phrases. In my resume, I’ve got a few areas of expertise centered and separated with bullets just after my objective. You can list up to about 15 core competencies on your resume. Just remember when you use keywords that they shouldn’t be repeated more than once or twice. So if you mention that you’re a graphic designer in your objective, you may not want to repeat that in your competencies. Some sample core competencies that creative freelancers may use are:
- Infrastructure Design
- IT Security
- Web Development
- Marketing Copywriting
- Product Marketing
- Public Relations
- System Design
- SEO Copywriting
- Media Relations
- Internet Marketing
- Brand Development
- Technical Writing
- Sales Promotions
Remember, the goal is to sprinkle in a few keywords that describe your aptitudes but not to overdo it. You’ve seen bad copywriting on websites that are laden with repeat phrases—you don’t want your resume to sound the same. Need more ideas on good keywords in your industry? Do a search for resumes from people with similar job titles to yours. Remember that just because you may be a graphic designer, you can still find good competencies under resumes for website developers, for example, too.
Begin Phrases With an Action Verb
Nowadays, it’s common to include a paragraph with a few sentences detailing your job duties, and then to use bullets to pull out accomplishments. The days of phrases such as “Responsible for designing print and Web marketing collateral,” are long gone. Instead, you can liven up your resume with a sentence such as “Originated print and Web marketing collateral.” Start every sentence with a new action verb, and try not to repeat those action verbs. Here are some sample action verbs that I think will help creative freelancers:
It’s important to use bullets to pull out results-based accomplishments, and those should start with strong action verbs as well. That means that after you sum up your duties at each job you’ve held, highlight things you did that went above and beyond what was asked of you. If you designed a website that drew an additional 10,000 viewers per month, you could bulletize the accomplishment like this: “Boosted website visitors by 10,000 monthly,” or something to that effect. It’s important to not only list what you are good at, but to show what the results have been of your work.
Include Technical Proficiencies
As a resume writer, I get clients that have a laundry list of technical proficiencies. Try to highlight only those that wouldn’t be expected of you to know. For example, many people know how to use word processing software such as Microsoft Word. So for writers, it’s vital to go above and beyond that. Do you know how to use Quark or WordPress? List those. For more technical creative freelancers, try to skip the basic programs and platforms and highlight those that show you’ve taken extra time to learn.
Send Your Resume into Cyberspace
Once you’ve got a resume that includes top-notch wording and is proofread, it’s time to market it. Here is where many freelancers don’t think they need to do much else. Just having a resume does show clients that you are professional and have a well-rounded background. But you have the potential to get more work if you get that resume out there. Post your resume to job boards. You never know where a lead will come from. I’ve had many companies say that they were looking to hire a full-time candidate but saw from my resume that they can save costs by hiring a contractor. I’ve also met with clients where it was almost like a job interview, so it was good to have a resume to hand over. Poof—instant clients.
When you inquire about a creative project, include your resume as an attachment just as something extra that a potential client can refer to. So many freelancers never take the time to speak corporate, but they want the top corporate freelance gigs. For example, a company may be considering an in-house copywriter, but by showing them my resume, they may see that I am just as qualified as other candidates for the job and have a solid background that includes corporate experience. It’s hard to get that across without a resume, so it’s good to have one.
I know a resume sounds like a major pain to write, but I promise you that by having one, you appear more professional and be able to easily highlight your skills. You never know when a freelance gig requires a resume…and it’s nice to have one ready and done to fire off.