Crafting a Kick-Ass Skills-Based Freelance Resume

Crafting a Kick-Ass Skills-Based Freelance Resume

Crafting a great resume is an art form. Luckily, you’re creative, artsy, and Whipsmart! Most resumes for the 'working 9-5' folks list one job after the other, but when you’re juggling the gig life, you’ve got a patchwork quilt of jobs to represent on just one sheet of paper. Not fair!

However, there is a way that freelancers can write amazing resumes while representing the diversity of their skills and experiences. A skills-based resume helps freelancers capture their unique set of talents and varied work experience while still staying true to the general rules of resume writing.

What’s a Skills-Based Resume?

A skills-based (or functional) resume differs from the traditional ‘reverse-chronological’ resume format in that it focuses on your experience and skills over work history and previous positions/titles.

It’s a great way to showcase portfolio work, temporary assignments, newly-learned skills, awards, speaking engagements, volunteer work, and other projects.

Is a Skills-Based Resume Right for Me?

Skills-based resumes are perfect for freelancers, contract workers, and those working in the gig economy. It’s also a good bet for recent grads, or people wanting to change careers.

How Do I Craft a Skills-Based Resume?

1.   You Got Skillz

Show them off! Brainstorm a list of your most relevant skills tailored to what you’re looking for. A traditional resume tip is to think about the kind of work you are looking for and list only relevant work experience. Follow that same maxim but with skills—only list what’s relevant to the kind of work you seek. If you're an illustrator, talk about your ability to turn words into compelling images. Worked on a film set? Congratulations, you have teamwork and collaboration experience! And so on.

Keep your purely money-making gigs out of it. Being a Lyft driver on the side isn’t going to matter to a HR manager hiring for a graphic designer position. One exception to that is if the work relates to what you want to do—for example, maybe you’re an aspiring photojournalist who takes wedding photos as a side-gig. In that case, you should definitely include those jobs. 


2.   Accomplishment Statements

Don’t be all talk, no action—you’ll need to back up your list of skills with actual accomplishments. Accomplishment statements are your own “success stories” when it comes to the work you do. This can mean a number of things—not just listing projects completed but explaining their value as well.

Where you can, add metrics. Did your video go viral? Did your ad copy inspire thousands of clicks? Put it in your resume! Try to let potential employers get a sense of impact and scope of the work you’ve done. 


3.   Find your storyline

Because freelancers tend to be doing a million things at once, in a number of different fields, sometimes it’s hard to find a way to explain your career path. When you don’t have a full-time job, the typical party question, “So what do you do?” becomes a minefield of picking and choosing how to represent yourself.

When building your resume with a diverse set of experiences, it might be helpful to add a “work experience” blurb that tells the story of who you are, what you’re doing, and what your career goals are—connecting all your past experience, however “spotty” it may look, to a narrative thread that lets people know where you’re going.


4.   Clarity over design

It’s tempting to get creative with your resume to stand out. But nine times out of ten, people need something that’s easy to read. Keep your high-concept flow-charts, Instagram pics and emojis on hold and concentrate on clarity and simple presentation.


5.   Add a “Projects” Section

A “Projects” section is a great place where you can really highlight specific gigs and work—articles you wrote that did really well, designs that stand out, etc. And if that work is on an online portfolio be sure to include links!

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