There are two ways to describe your work when you work freelance or on a contract basis:
- List the client name as if it were an employer.
- Create a consulting company name for yourself and list your clients under it.
Which way you choose depends on how much you work for any particular client.
- If you work full-time for one company – whether as a freelancer or under contract – list them as your employer. After all, you do work for the company and you were hired. Many companies are hiring people as contractors or freelancers for a variety of reasons. If you’re on payroll, you’re an employee. If you’re not on payroll, then you are a consultant and I recommend that you create a consulting company name and proceed from there. You can say that you work under contract in an interview, if it seems relevant. If you are uncomfortable implying that you are a full-time benefits-receiving employee, I recommend creating a consulting company for yourself and listing the company as a client.
- If you have several clients, make up a company name for yourself. It can be as simple as “My Name Consulting.” You don’t have to have an LLC or be incorporated to call yourself a consulting provider. You also can have a consulting company and have just one client.
Now for title. I have several clients who work as freelancers or contract employees.
- If you are a freelancer, I always recommend saying consultant instead of freelancer – it sounds more professional.
- If you work under a contract or as a full-time freelancer, use the title you either have or would have if you were a full-time employee. Make sure you tell your boss that you want to use a particular title if you don’t already have one. S/he will have suggestions and can tell HR what s/he wants your title to be. This is important in the case of reference checks – you want HR or your boss to back you up on title, or you will probably lose the job offer because you’re perceived as lacking integrity or lying.
Here are examples of both (click on link to PDF):
How are you listing yourself?
Thank you for condensing the options for listing freelance work. I have multiple interests and have had multiple freelance jobs over the years. I have been very blocked as I tried to make sense of my freelance (consultant) work and finally update my resume. It wasn’t until I read your article that I was able to present an edited version of my past work that made sense.
I am delighted that this post was helpful! Good luck in your search.
What if you are contract freelancer and have only had one client for eight years? Would you list the company as your employer or still create a company name for yourself?
Great question, Kim. I would list the company as your employer because that’s the only place you’ve worked. My suggestion about creating a company name is for people who work at several places at the same time. I’m working with someone now who has her own company, with some clients, AND a regular long-time client. We’re listing both the companies as places of employment, saying she’s worked at both from x date – present. The point is to use the prestigious client’s name while still giving a sense of her versatility. Hope that helps. Julie
This is very helpful – I was trying to figure out how to include my ‘side projects’ that I have worked on over the last several years. My current full-time job is an Executive Assistant, but my side projects have included multiple websites and software development and that is the field that I am trying to get into full-time. Thank you, Kim
I love that you are pursuing something you love! When you do your resume, I suggest giving a couple of examples of websites with hyperlinks to them so people can click on them and see your work. Good luck! Julie
This information was phenomenal! We consultants are an underserved market, often navigating without “career leadership” relevant to our talents and needs.
People often look at me like I have 3 heads after seeing my resume full of 6 month, one year and 2 year positions across an array of businesses and categories. I don’t want people to assume I job-hop or even worse, can’t keep a job. Your advice is going into effect immediately. Please continue to offer insight in this area.
Hi Beth, I’m so glad this was helpful. Good luck with your search now that you’ll have a different resume! Best, Julie
I am SO glad I ran across this! I have basically been a freelancer since I graduated college in 2001, but each time I showed someone my resume’, I got different advice on how to format it. I think this is much more useful to me and it won’t make me “indecisive” to potential employers.
Thanks for posting!
I am delighted that you found what you needed here. My goal is to provide useful information that really works in the work marketplace. This method has worked for a variety of people, so I hope it also works for you. Let me know how your search turns out!
Extremely relevant advice. I had no idea how to list my freelance positions even though they are full time/benefit over a period of months>years.
I’m so glad this was helpful – that’s my goal: provide real world advice.
Good luck with your search!