How To List Self-Employment On A Resume

It used to be the case that when a recruiter would see “Self-Employed” on a resume, the thought balloon might read “Couldn’t get a job”. Such might not be the case anymore.

Becoming self-employed can be perceived as having “initiative”, “entrepreneurial”, “confident”, “resourceful”, and having leadership qualities. All of these are many sought-after soft skills by a company.

However, perception is in the eyes of the reader. If you don’t list “Self-Employed” on a resume properly, it could blow up your chances of getting hired.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to Present Your Self-Employment History on Your Resume
  • How to Identify the Best Skills For Self-Employed Applicants
  • How To Write the Job Descriptions of Your Self-Employment Period in the Work Experience Section

Let’s begin…

How To Present Your Self-Employment History On Your Resume

People become self-employed for a variety of reasons.

You could have grown tired of the 9-to-5 office lifestyle and decided to put up your own business or become a freelancer.

You might not have been happy with your salary and decided to take on side gigs to augment your monthly income.

The job market might have been tight and you had a hard time finding work. Starting a business was the right idea at the time.

Whatever the reason, you’ll have to include the period you were self-employed. And yes, if your freelance practice or business is still ongoing, your experiences will have to show up on your resume.

Your purpose is to present the period of self-employment in a positive light. It must impress the recruiter and give your chances of getting hired a big boost.

It’s not a tall order. You can make your self-employed history shine in your resume if you follow our 5 tips below.

Share a Short Story in the Objective Statement

The Objective Statement is located in the top third section of your resume usually below the Contact Information section.

The purpose of an objective statement might seem obvious – to state your objective in applying for the job – but there’s more to this section than just stating the obvious.

One good way to view the objective statement is that it’s your voice on the resume. It gives you the opportunity to state your claim to the job being offered by the employer.

“So why should the company offer the position to someone who’s self-employed?”

Answer this question in the objective statement by sharing a short story on why you decided to become self-employed.

Let’s assume that after 2 years as a Computer Technician for a private company, you decided to start your own business building and managing websites for clients.

2 years into your business, you came across a job ad from a well-respected company that needs a Computer Technician who’s familiar with WordPress, Magenta, JavaScript, Oracle, and C++.

You can write an Objective Statement that reads as follows:

“Well-experienced Computer Technician with 2 years of work experience at MicroTech Systems setting up networks and workflows for the company’s clients. My experience at MicroTech showed me there are better ways to secure networks from cyber-crime. To put my theories into practice, I resigned and put up my own company called Cyber-tech Solutions that provides comprehensive network security solutions for clients. I believe my experience in both fields – as an employee and as an entrepreneur – has given me a holistic perspective. I am certified in JavaScript, Microsoft, Oracle, and C++ but as an entrepreneur, I have a good understanding of business acumen. The combination of these skills makes me the ideal candidate for your company.”

The area of the objective statement that we highlighted is the candidate’s UVP or Unique Value Proposition.

Trust us that this statement will be an “aha” moment for the recruiter.

4 tips on writing an effective objective statement.

  • Leadoff with the qualifications that meet those outlined in the job ad.
  • Keep it short – 4-5 sentences at most.
  • Write in a conversational language that’s easy to understand.
  • Reiterate your value to the employer – why the company should hire you.

Choose the Right Job Title

You have a number of options for your job title when you’re self-employed. If you own a business, indicating on the resume you’re the “President” or “CEO” of your company might create the impression to the recruiter that you’re overqualified even if it’s the truth.

A better way to identify your position would be to base it on your primary function.

For example, if you were in charge of web design and development, you could choose the job title of “Lead Web Designer”. If you’re the person who’s responsible for writing content, you could identify yourself as the “Content Creator”.

What about the business or enterprise name?

If you own a registered business, feel free to use the approved trade name. As a freelancer, you can simply say “Freelancer” or “Contractor”.

Putting it all together, this is how your job title would appear in the resume:

As a Header:

Redmond G. Anderson
Lead Web Designer
Cyber-tech Solutions
4356 Camelot Heights
El Paso, Texas
(915) 563 4832

In Your Work Experience Section:

Lead Web Designer, Cyber-tech Solutions
2019 to Present; El Paso, Texas

Give As Much Details As Possible

When you’re self-employed, chances are that the duties and responsibilities you’re handling are more than just work-related. Technically, as self-employed, you’re running a business where you’re offering products or services.

Thus, you’re also tasked with managing the day-to-day and backend functions of the business.

Mention these activities in your work experience section because it shows that you’re more than just someone with the skills needed to assume the position.

Let’s stick to our example of the self-employed job applicant who started Cyber-tech Solutions and now wants to work for a new company. As an entrepreneur, he can mention activities that he handled for the other key areas of operation:

  • Marketing – “Conceptualize, create, and post optimized content on our social media pages for the purposes of increasing followers, improving engagement, and driving more inbound traffic to our website.”
  • Sales – “Pursue generated leads that have grown warmer as the prospects continue to show greater interest in hiring our services.”
  • Accounting – “Review the company’s projected income statement for the month and devise strategies and policies to meet and/or exceed revenue targets.”
  • Human Resources – “Coordinate and collaborate with my HR Officer when recruiting, selecting, and hiring new personnel for the company.”
  • I.T – “Manage the company website; ensure that all plugins are updated and that site backups are done on a daily basis.”

You don’t have to go overboard on the non-essential tasks. But as you have read, by mentioning only 1 job description per area of responsibility, you already move the needle as far as getting the recruiter impressed.

Showcase Your Self-Employed Milestones

It’s easy for people – including recruiters – to dismiss self-employment as “Plan B” because “Plan A” didn’t work out. You can put all these doubters and naysayers to rest simply by showcasing your milestones and highlights as a self-employed individual.

Where do you mention these milestones on your resume? There are 2 ideal locations: a Career Summary section and the Work Experience section.

Career Summary:

“Worked 2 years as Networking Officer and Dialer Manager for MicroTech Systems. Certified in Microsoft, Oracle, Javascript, and C++. Started Cyber-tech Solutions in 2019; company presently has a total of 14 active clients. Designed and developed proprietary software programs for clients such as AMFRANCO, Bel-Air Properties, Sunville Continental Airways, Radco Automobiles, Bedford Retailers. Planned and Set Up the networking system of Travco National Bank, Lincoln Air Base, and Reznor Pharmaceuticals.

Work Experience:

We will discuss this in greater detail in the chapter “How To Write the Job Descriptions of Your Self-Employment Period in the Work Experience Section”.

Without giving out too many spoilers, your objective in the work experience section is to impress the recruiter and to plant the idea in his head that you’re the best candidate for the position – even though you’re self-employed.

Align Your Self-Employed Experience With the Job Ad

What does the position that you’re applying for require for the ideal candidate? If you’re self-employed you have to tie in your experience with the demands of the position.

In other words, establish relevance between your experiences as a self-employed individual and the job you’re applying for.

You want to convince the recruiter that although you chose to become self-employed, the decision benefited you and increased your value proposition to prospective employers.

To do this, you have to go back to the job ad and review the requirements, demands, and scope of work as listed by the employer.

The objective is to align the duties and responsibilities you manage as a self-employed person to the requirements of the job as stated in the job ad.

How relevant was the period of self-employment to the position you’re applying for?

An important part of establishing relevance lies in the skills that you identify on your resume.

How To Identify The Best Skills For Self-Employed Applicants

Just because you’re earning a paycheck or having fees paid for your services deposited in your bank account doesn’t mean the learning process stopped after you graduated.

Whether behind a desk as a privately-employed office worker or as a self-employed remote worker, you are constantly acquiring new skills and sharpening old ones.

And it’s not just skills of the technical variety or hard skills. You’re also developing soft skills – the behavioral traits that define who you are as an individual.

Employers have specific skill sets in mind for their ideal employees. Recruiters will look for these skills in all of the qualified job applicants including those who are or have been self-employed.

If you’ve been self-employed and are itching to go back to the 9-to-5 concrete jungle as a Full-Time Employee or FTE, you must identify the skills you have that are needed for the position you are applying for.

How do you do this?

  • Review the job ad. On a spreadsheet, write down the required skills and experiences.
  • Review your self-employed work experience. On the opposite side of the spreadsheet, list down all of your acquired skills and experiences.
  • Cross-reference both sides and highlight the ones that are similar.

You might be asking, “What about my soft skills? How do I present these soft skills on my resume?”

Follow the same procedure for hard skills.

HR professionals will also include a shortlist of soft skills or personality attributes that they want in the ideal employee. Take note of these soft skills, write them down in the same spreadsheet, and make an accounting of your most defining traits.

You don’t need to possess the exact same soft skills that were itemized in the job ad. If you have traits that are similar or synonymous with the soft skills preferred by the employer, they should be good enough.

The work experience section will present you with the opportunity to validate your soft skills. Keep in mind that the skills and experiences that are aligned with the requirements of the job ad will form the foundation of your work experience section.

How To Write The Job Descriptions Of Your Self-Employment Period In The Work Experience Section

The work experience section is crucial because it shows the recruiter if you’re qualified and ready to assume the position from the get-go. This section translates your skills into practical experience.

“If we hire you, can we expect you to hit the ground running?”

You’re going to have to include your self-employed period in the work experience section of your resume. How do you present your history of self-employment so that the recruiter will be impressed and convinced that you deserve consideration?

Customize the Job Descriptions to Fit the Demands and the Scope of Work

Similar to what you did with the skills section, you should review the job ad and carefully read through the stated demands/expectations of the position and the scope of work.

From there, review your current or previous experiences as a self-employed individual. Write down the duties and responsibilities you managed that were the same or similar to those identified in the job ad.

Did the job ad list down the scope of work in order of importance? If so, do the same for your work experience section. Start off with a task that mirrors the priority function of the position.

For example, if the job ad lists as the priority function:

“Must have experience designing and developing mobile responsive websites that are accessible to multi browsers.”

Our candidate Redmond Anderson can write his first job description as:

“Design and develop mobile responsive websites for 42 clients such as Tyler Retailers, Radco Automobiles, and Sunville Continental Airways that were tested and proven to be 100% accessible by Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and 12 other browsers.”

Here’s that keyword again: Relevance.

You can successfully establish relevance between your self-employed history and the requirements of the position by ticking off as many of the items that are listed under the job ad’s “Scope of Work”.

Highlight Your Accomplishments With Numbers

Go back to the example we made for the candidate’s job description. Take note of the numbers that we included when describing the specific responsibility. Now, let’s write the same job description, but without the numbers:

“Design and develop mobile responsive websites for clients such as Tyler Retailers, Radco Automobiles, and Sunville Continental Airways that were tested and proven to be accessible by Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and other browsers.”

Not much of an impact, right? Removing the numbers from the job description made it significantly less impressive.

Including statistics and other forms of numbers will definitely catch the attention and the interest of the recruiter. Numbers add substance to your claimed accomplishments.

They help the recruiter grasp the magnitude of what you’ve achieved as a self-employed individual and potentially influence his decision to consider your resume for the interview schedule.

Provide More Detail

Let’s go back to our example of a job description for a self-employed individual who is trying to land the job of a web designer. This time let’s remove the details:

“Design and develop mobile responsive websites for clients that were tested and proven to be accessible to browsers.”

Not only is the job description unimpressive but it reads like it was copied and pasted from a template that can be downloaded from the Internet.

A job description like this one is saying a lot without saying anything at all. It’s long – 18 words – but there’s nothing in the job description that stands out and makes your work experience different from anyone else’s.

When you provide more details about the duties and responsibilities that you handled as a self-employed person, you differentiate the period of employment as well as your resume.

Details make your resume more unique and interesting. The last thing a recruiter wants to read is a resume that reads like everyone else’s.

Diversify Your Job Descriptions

Once you’ve given solid examples of tasks that are relevant and similar to the ones identified in the scope of work, diversify your job descriptions to other types of duties and responsibilities that show you’re capable of doing much more.

Staying with our example, as someone in the Information Technology industry, our candidate knows what other skills are important for web design and development.

For example, a web designer might be involved in the following:

  • Research and development
  • Coordination with the front and back end developers
  • Site optimization
  • Content optimization
  • Digital marketing
  • Site testing
  • Web host services

If Redmond includes examples of these, the job descriptions would greatly enhance his value proposition to the recruiter because they show he has a highly-diversified skill set.

Here are a few examples of how these job descriptions would look like in the work experience section of his resume:

  • Conduct 3 types of research – market, technology, and keyword research – as part of the design development process.
  • Coordinate with the front and back-end developers to ensure the overall functionality of the website.
  • Collaborate with the SEO professional when using tags for the titles, meta descriptions, and images.
  • Provide assistance to the content writing team by preparing the keywords list and checking the KW density of each page.
  • Respond to requests of the Digital Marketing team with regards to updates on the availability of the websites of the clients.
  • Perform various testing methods to verify the functionality of the website prior to its turnover to the client.
  • Assist the clients when choosing the type of web host services that would be ideal for their business.

And as we discussed in the chapter “How to Present Your Self-Employment History On Your Resume”, feel free to add job descriptions that cover the tasks related to running your business.

The Cover Letter: Your Secret Weapon

Reports of the demise of the cover letter have been greatly exaggerated. For years, many people have dismissed the effectiveness of the cover letter. They say it’s outdated and no one has the time to read them.

That’s not true.

According to the results of a survey conducted by HR professionals, recruiters and hiring managers think otherwise:

  • 83% of hiring managers would still interview an applicant who submitted an unimpressive resume if his cover letter was compelling and interesting enough.
  • 77% of recruitment decision-makers would read the cover letter even if it wasn’t stated as a requirement.
  • 74% of recruiters prefer to have cover letters attached to the candidates’ resumes.

While your competitors might choose to ignore the value of the cover letter, prepare one and attach it to your resume. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

For example, you can state in the cover letter that although you’re running an enterprise or a side hustle business, it won’t detract from your commitment to give 100% to the company.

Cover Letter Example for Self Employed

January 12, 2021

Ms. Michelle C. Teague
Hiring Manager
Titan Global Tech, Inc,
El Paso, Texas

Dear Ms. Teague,

Re: Web Designer Position

I am writing to express my interest in applying for the position of Web Designer. With more than 5 years of work experience in the IT industry as an employee and entrepreneur, I believe that I have acquired the necessary skills, expertise, experience, and business acumen to qualify me for this position.

As the proprietor and lead Web Designer of Cyber-tech Solutions, I have developed a greater understanding of the business side of web design and development. Having been on the business side of web design, I have better clarity on how to plan, develop, implement, and test websites to meet the objectives of the client.

Further, I wish to assure you that if hired, being an entrepreneur won’t detract from my commitment to your company. I have turned over the day-to-day operations of Cyber-tech Solutions to my wife who is my business partner.

Thank you and I hope my application merits your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Redmond G. Anderson

 

A cover letter is an effective way of communicating with the recruiter. You can prepare him for what to expect from your resume and quell thoughts that might diminish your qualifications for the job.

Putting It All Together

Now, let’s see what an effective self-employed resume looks like! Please take note that we edited out duplicate content. Specifically, we removed the section on the type of certifications in the Objective Statement because this was already discussed in the Career Summary section.

Redmond G. Anderson
Lead Web Designer
Cyber-tech Solutions
4356 Camelot Heights
El Paso, Texas

Career Summary

Worked 2 years as Networking Officer and Dialer Manager for MicroTech Systems. Certified in Microsoft, Oracle, Javascript, and C++. Started Cyber-tech Solutions in 2019; company presently has a total of 14 active clients. Designed and developed proprietary software programs for clients such as AMFRANCO, Bel-Air Properties, Sunville Continental Airways, Radco Automobiles, Bedford Retailers

Objective Statement:

Well-experienced Computer Technician with 2 years of work experience at MicroTech Systems setting up networks and workflows for the company’s clients. My experience at MicroTech showed me there are better ways to secure networks from cyber-crime. To put my theories into practice, I resigned and put up my own company called Cyber-tech Solutions that provides comprehensive network security solutions for clients. I believe my experience in both fields – as an employee and as an entrepreneur – has given me a holistic perspective. As an entrepreneur, I have a good understanding of business acumen. The combination of these skills make me the ideal candidate for your company

Work Experience:

Lead Web Designer, Cyber-tech Solutions
2019 to Present; El Paso, Texas

  • Design and develop mobile responsive websites for 42 clients such as Tyler Retailers, Radco Automobiles, and Sunville Continental Airways that were tested and proven to be 100% accessible by Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and 12 other browsers.
  • Conduct 3 types of research – market, technology, and keyword research – as part of the design development process.
  • Coordinate with the front and back-end developers to ensure the overall functionality of the website.
  • Collaborate with the SEO professional when using tags for the titles, meta descriptions, and images.
  • Provide assistance to the content writing team by preparing the keywords list and checking the KW density of each page.
  • Respond to requests of the Digital Marketing team with regards to updates on the availability of the websites of the clients.
  • Perform various testing methods to verify the functionality of the website prior to its turnover to the client.
  • Assist the clients when choosing the type of web host services that would be ideal for their business.
  • Conceptualize, create, and post optimized content on our social media pages for the purposes of increasing followers, improving engagement, and driving more inbound traffic to our website.
  • Pursue generated leads that have grown warmer as the prospects continue to show greater interest in hiring our services.
  • Review the company’s projected income statement for the month and devise strategies and policies to meet and/or exceed revenue targets.”
  • Coordinate and collaborate with my HR Officer when recruiting, selecting, and hiring new personnel for the company.
  • Manage the company website; ensure that all plugins are updated and that site backups are done on a daily basis.

Education:

College
Computer Science
Bachelor of Science
University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, Texas
2012 to 2016

High School
El Paso High School
El Paso, Texas
2008 to 2012

Final Thoughts

Being self-employed is nothing to be worried about. It’s an opportunity for you to generate income, build a business, and establish a career in the future. These benefits correspond to traits or soft skills that many recruiters would love their employees to have.

The key is to establish relevance between your experiences as a self-employed individual and the demands, scope of work, and requirements of the position you are applying for.

If you can do this successfully, you’ll have a good chance of finding yourself back in the land of the company-employed.

Felix T. Web

I founded ResumeOK in 2011 to help people increase their chances of getting a better job. I am a career expert that has reviewed and written thousands of resumes. During my career, I found patterns that make a resume successful. Together with our team, we are sharing insights and knowledge in our resume examples and career articles. Do you have a question or need help? Just contact us here.

Last Updated on May 19, 2022 by Felix T. Web