Self-Employed Resume Example & Writing Guide

A self-employed resume translates all the skills and experience obtained while freelancing or owning a business into a concise document.
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Self-Employed

The employment landscape has shifted in the past few years to facilitate more remote and freelance work. It’s not uncommon for individuals to start their own businesses or seek employment after being self-employed for a while. In the second case, you need a strong self-employed resume to impress recruiters.

In this detailed guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of crafting one such document. You’ll learn how to emphasize your skills and experience and convince potential employers that you don’t have gaps in employment but an extensive professional history. 

Key Takeaways

  • One of the best formats to use for your self-employed resume is the chronological one.

  • A good layout includes your resume being one page long, with a professional font, 1-inch margins, and 1.0 line spacing.

  • A professional experience section is often the most important one, and you should make sure that it’s polished to perfection.

  • Optional sections are great for adding value to your self-employed resume, and they should be included after the mandatory sections.

  • A cover letter gives you the opportunity to talk more about your competence while showing hardworking tendencies.

Best Format to Use For a Self-Employed Resume

Popular resume formats

There are three commonly used self-employed resume formats that bring job-seekers the most success:

Common Resume Formats

  1. Chronological resume format. It arranges your past jobs and experiences in reverse-chronological order, putting the most recent ones on top. It’s a format that recruiters are used to, and the ATS is set up for it.

  2. Functional resume format. This format is good if you’re writing a self-employed resume with no experience. It puts skills front and center, allowing you to play to your strengths without having a resume that looks empty.

  3. Combination resume format. The combination format is a hybrid of the first two, as it lists skills like the functional format before chronologically backing them up with relevant accomplishments. The format is good if you have an irregular work history or if you have decades of experience.

Self-Employed Resume Layout

The purpose of a resume layout is to create a pleasant visual experience and ensure that the details of the document are easy to read. You can achieve that by following these guidelines:

Resume Layout Guidelines

  • Your self-employed resume should be one page long. Exceptionally, if you have an extensive professional history, you can make it two pages.

  • Choose a clean and professional font for your resume. Think Arial or Helvetica instead of decorative typefaces like Papyrus.

  • Set the font size to 10–12 pt for regular text and 14–16 pt for section headings.

  • Adjust margins to at least 1 inch on all sides and use 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing.

Self-Employed Resume Sections

No matter your qualifications, every self-employed resume needs to have these five sections:

Mandatory Resume Sections

  1. Contact information

  2. Objective or summary

  3. Professional experience

  4. Education

  5. Skills

You can also boost your chances with recruiters by including optional sections, like:

Optional Resume Sections

  • Awards

  • Personal projects

  • Conferences/lectures

  • Publications

  • Languages

  • Hobbies & interests

If this is your first time writing a resume or all this sudden information looks daunting, you’re welcome to use our resume builder. It features pre-built templates created by professionals to ensure they have all the necessary parts.

Further, you can adjust every template to your liking to include and remove optional sections, add your information in preset places, change font and color, and more. The process is so simple and intuitive that you can have a self-employed resume ready and downloaded in minutes!

Self-Employed Resume Template

Here’s a self-employed resume template to show you the potential of our resume builder and to help you visualize what the final product should look like:

Self-Employed Resume Template

Name and Surname

Phone number: 000-000-0000 | Email: namesurname@gmail.com | Location: City, State

[Adjective] [your job title] with [years of experience, if applicable] in [your area of expertise, if applicable] looking for a [position] job at [company name]. Eager to apply [relevant skills] gained through [work/volunteer/other experience] to help [company name] [mention what you can do for the company].

Work Experience

Most Recent/Current Job Title Company City, State

[Start date] — [End date]

  • For recent jobs, use 5-6 bullet points to list your top achievements and responsibilities

  • Use action verbs to make your responsibilities and achievements stand out

  • Add numbers to quantify your achievements

Previous Job Title Company City, State

[Start date] — [End date]

  • For recent jobs, use 5-6 bullet points to list your top achievements and responsibilities

  • Use action verbs to make your responsibilities and achievements stand out

  • Add numbers to quantify your achievements

Oldest Job Title Company City, State

[Start date] — [End date]

  • For older jobs, use 2-3 bullet points to list your top achievements and responsibilities

  • Use action verbs to make your responsibilities and achievements stand out

  • Add numbers to quantify your achievements

Education

[Degree] in [Major]

[University/college name]

[Start date] - [Graduation date]

Skills

Soft Skills

  • Skill #1

  • Skill #2

  • Skill #3

  • Skill #4

  • Skill #5

Hard Skills

  • Skill #1

  • Skill #2

  • Skill #3

  • Skill #4

  • Skill #5

Additional Sections

  • Add any relevant additional sections (languages, licenses, publications, hobbies, etc.)

How to Include Contact Information in Your Self-Employed Resume

Contact information goes at the top of your resume in its header. It’s a clear-cut section that’s all about precise data. The details to include are:

Mandatory Contact Information

  • Your name

  • Job title

  • Phone number

  • Email address

Based on your profession and the job ad, you can include additional information, like:

Optional Contact Information

  • Location

  • Relevant social media profiles

  • Personal website

  • Portfolio

Let’s see that in practice:

Contact Information Section Example

Donna Lanier Graphic Designer + 732 374 5762 donna.lanier@example.com Lewisberry, PA linkedin.com/in/donnalanier donnaportfolio.com

Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing this section:

Contact Information Guidelines

  • Don’t put “self-employed” for a job title, but make sure that it accurately describes your profession and matches the one from the job ad.

  • Don’t add sensitive information, such as age, gender, religious affiliations, or even a full mailing address.

  • Use a professional email address (e.g., firstname.lastname@email.com).

How to Write an Ideal Self-Employed Resume Objective/Summary

An objective and summary are catchy introductory paragraphs written to grab the attention of recruiters and potential employers. You can think of them as brief and impactful descriptions of your self-employed resume.

Inexperienced applicants should write a self-employed resume objective to highlight their motivation, skills, and career goals. On the flip side, seasoned professionals should sum up their careers through a resume summary, mentioning a couple of key accomplishments.

Emerging Self-Employed Software Engineer Resume Objective

If you haven’t been in the field for long and you have little to no professional history, a resume objective will help you portray yourself as an eager candidate with a lot of potential.

Here’s a good example:

Self-Employed Software Engineer Resume Objective Example

Motivated software engineer with a B.S. in Computer Science looking for a junior position at Electronum Solutions. During the internship, utilized extensive MySQL knowledge to improve query response times by 13%. Created a full-stack Poker Simulator app in Python as a solo project. Seeking to help your competent team write scalable code while learning to become a full-stack senior developer.

On the other hand, if you don’t include any concrete information, you’ll get a bland resume objective, like in the next example:

Bad Example

Self-taught, self-employed software developer looking for their first job. Have plenty of solo projects, ranging from games to smartphone apps.

Established Self-Employed Graphic Designer Resume Summary

As an established professional, you want to highlight some of your most impressive accomplishments from the start.

Here’s a good example of a self-employed resume summary:

Established Self-Employed Graphic Designer Resume Summary Example

Award-winning graphic designer with more than 10 years in the field looking for a senior position at Ellipsis Design. Notable projects include 5 major corporate client rebrandings and 200+ print layout designs for digital marketing and OOH advertising. Expert in color theory, UX/UI design principles, and typography.

Compare that to this bad resume summary where the candidate showed no proof of their competence:

Bad Example

Experienced graphic design professional with plenty of projects under the belt looking for a stable job in your company. Able to work alone and in a team.

Self-Employed Resume Professional Experience

A professional experience section is usually the most important one in any resume. Since you’re a self-employed individual, this part gives you the opportunity to showcase your past work and, through it, emphasize your competence. Let’s find out how to make this section perfect.

General Tips

Every work experience section should follow this format when listing past endeavors:

Professional Experience Mandatory Details

  • Job title

  • Company name

  • Employment dates

  • Achievements

Of course, when you’re listing self-employed or freelance work, there likely won’t be a company to name. Still, you should accurately include your professional titles and periods of employment (because of both recruiters and the ATS) while listing past jobs in reverse-chronological order.

The key part of this section is the accomplishment list. Here’s how you can make it stand out:

Accomplishment List Tips

  • Focus on outstanding results and achievements over usual chores and duties.

  • Use bullet points to keep the section concise and improve its readability.

  • Include stats and numbers to add measurable value to your accomplishments and make them more believable.

  • Leverage memorable action verbs and power words instead of overused terms.

Work History Section for Self-Employed Individuals With Little Experience

If you haven’t been self-employed for long and you lack a work history, you can leverage other endeavors to craft an engaging professional experience section. This includes personal projects, volunteer work, internships, and more.

Here’s an example:

Self-Employed Individuals With Little Experience Example

Work Experience

Architecture Intern Studio Stucco New York, NY

April 2022–September 2023

  • Created 11 complex 3D models of 5+ story residential buildings along with video animations that received a 93% approval rate.

  • Drafted complete technical drawings for 9 residential and 5 commercial projects.

  • Prepared bi-weekly reports for managers and 13 project presentations for clients.

Experienced Self-Employed Individual

Experienced self-employed candidates likely have multiple valuable skills that recruiters want to see. Running your own business (even if it ultimately fails) is particularly impressive as it involves specific abilities, strong motivation, and impressive drive.

Here’s an example:

Experienced Self-Employed Individual Example

Work Experience

Business Founder/Owner Fine and Fancy Prints Dallas, TX

May 2019–June 2023

  • Implemented business scaling strategies to grow revenue by 175% over the period of 3 years.

  • Led a team of 5 designers to create custom graphics tailored to specific clothing items that catered to target audiences.

  • Collaborated with a website developer to optimize the website and increase online conversions by 35%.

Freelance Self-Employed Individual

As a freelancer, you’ve likely worked with numerous clients on many different projects. You should highlight that diversity to portray yourself as a versatile, multi-skilled, and accomplished individual.

Here’s an example:

Freelance Self-Employed Individual Example

Work Experience

Freelance Graphic Designer Saint Louis, MO

April 2018–Current

  • Designed 70+ brand identities for startups to assist with social media exposure, increasing visibility by up to 45% within the first 6 months.

  • Created 120+ digital marketing assets and performed A/B testing to optimize and enhance CTR by up to 23%.

  • Conceptualized and designed 12 e-commerce websites for small businesses.

Self-Employed Resume Education Section

The education section for most candidates should be brief, and it should simply feature your highest degree. Here’s an example:

Self-Employed Resume Education Section Example

Education

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 2016–2020

If you have limited work experience, you can put more emphasis on your education to validate your skills and competence. In that case, you can add a bullet point list under your degree that can feature notable academic achievements, relevant coursework, projects, high GPA, and various other accomplishments.

You can even include multiple degrees (e.g., a bachelor’s degree under your master’s degree). However, if you have higher education, you should avoid listing your high school degree, as it’s considered redundant.

Self-Employed Resume Skills

Self-employed resume skills are generally the second most important section after professional experience. After all, skills and experience go together to paint a complete picture of the candidate’s competence and qualifications. 

The skills in your resume need to be the ones recruiters are looking for. For instance, you might not want to emphasize your writing skills when applying for a video editor position. That’s why you should research the company and read the job ad. After that, cross-reference the requirements with your skill set and include them in a dedicated section.

Furthermore, it’s important to make a distinction between hard and soft skills. Hard skills are highly technical and usually specific to a certain career or position. They are the first thing recruiters and potential employers are going to look for.

On the other hand, soft skills are transferable and usually obtained through experience. They might not be essential for the role, but many employers still hire candidates based on them. That’s why these skills should be listed separately from hard skills.

Self-Employed Individual Hard Skills

Which hard skills you should list on your resume depends on the position that you’re going for. For instance, a graphic designer might list some of the following abilities:

Self-Employed Individual Hard Skills Example

  • Adobe Creative Suite

  • Color Theory

  • Typography

  • Affinity Photo

  • Affinity Design

On the other hand, a web developer might want to list skills like:

Web Developer Hard Skills Example

  • HTML

  • CSS

  • JavaScript

  • React

  • Angular

  • Git

  • MySQL

Self-Employed Individual Soft Skills

Highlighting soft skills is especially important for self-employed individuals, as they commonly work alone. That’s why you want to show potential employers that you have strong interpersonal skills that can help you fit in with their team or work with clients. Some of the most sought-after soft skills include:

Self-Employed Individual Soft Skills Soft Skills

Self-Employed Resume: Other Sections

Optional sections can transform a strong resume into a fantastic one. As long as you have some room left after including all the mandatory information, you should consider adding some of the sections that we’re about to examine.

Awards

Awards are a recognition of excellence, and they are perfect for adding credibility to your competence. They demonstrate that you’ve achieved outstanding results and that the peers in your field acknowledged that.

Personal Projects

Personal projects are particularly important for self-employed individuals and can be just as impactful as professional history. On the one hand, they are a testament to the hard skills and knowledge required to work in the field. On the other hand, they indicate passion, creativity, initiative, and many other valuable soft skills and traits.

Conferences/Lectures

Participation in conferences or lectures shows that you’re up-to-date with the latest trends and happenings in the industry. It speaks of your networking capabilities and indicates that you’re engaged with the community. Furthermore, you should mention if you were a lecturer or a speaker, as that demonstrates additional abilities, such as communication and leadership.

Publications

Having relevant publications positions you as an authority in the field. Anything from blog articles to publications in professional magazines shows that you have extensive knowledge of the topic and strong communication skills to propagate it.

Languages

Language skills can be essential in today’s globalized economy and international workspaces. They help you communicate with a broader range of clients and coworkers while being more culturally aware, leading to improved outcomes. That’s why you should list all languages you’re proficient in, starting with the highest one.

Hobbies & Interests

A brief mention of some of your hobbies and interests can help you stand out among the competition and make you more memorable to recruiters. It’s even better if they are related to your profession, as that shows that you’re truly passionate about your craft.

Do I Need to Include a Cover Letter as a Self-Employed Individual?

matching cover letter and resume template

If you want to maximize your chances of getting an interview, you should submit a tailored cover letter with your self-employed resume. It’s another brief document (250–400 words) that gives you the opportunity to go into more detail about your skills and qualifications. Moreover, it shows that you’re a hardworking individual who goes the extra mile to complete your goals.

3 Expert Strategies for Crafting a Self-Employed Resume

Let’s finish with three expert tips that are bound to help you perfect your self-employed resume:

Self-Employed Resume Tips

  1. You can make all links clickable in the digital copy of your self-employed resume. That shows attention to detail on your end and helps the recruiter by allowing them to contact you more easily, check your portfolio, go to your website, etc.

  2. You should include your key skills throughout the resume. While having a clear list is important, adding skills to the objective, summary, and work experience sections adds weight to them. Link them with relevant achievements to prove that you have these abilities.

  3. Proofread your resume before submitting it. Look for typos and areas for improvement. You can even ask a friend or a relative to give it another look.

Outstanding Self-Employed Resume Examples

Before we conclude the article, here are complete self-employed resume examples to guide you while making yours:

Donna -Lanier-Graphic Designer-1

Closing Thoughts

Self-employed job descriptions have changed over the years. Today, you can do almost anything as a self-employed professional, freelancer, or business owner. However, if you decide to join a company and become a part of a larger team, this guide will help you craft a resume that will impress them with your qualifications.

The skills and experience you obtained during your time as an unaffiliated professional are guaranteed to convince many recruiters to call you over for an interview. This guide will simply guide you toward achieving that. Best of luck job-hunting!

Isabelle Dupont
Isabelle Dupont
Content Writer & Editor
Isabelle Dupont is from Portland, but she now lives and works in sunny San Diego. She is a content writer and editor for Resume.co. She loves casual Fridays and carefree days spent on the beach and has been writing for several years now. Whether it’s creating content or fixing it up, she’s always on point and makes sure no stone is left unturned. In her free time, Isa loves to immerse herself in fantasy novels, go on long hikes, and spend time with her friends and family.

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