Adding Self-employment Experience to Your Resume

By guest author, Danielle Higley

The exact help you need for adding self-employment experience to your new job search endeavors.

People often say how scary it is to leave the traditional workforce and pursue a path of self-employment. Few mention the anxiety that comes with doing the reverse—joining or rejoining the workforce after a period of working for yourself. 

And yet, there are challenges. For instance, once you’ve decided to apply for a job, how do you convey all that you’ve learned and accomplished on your targeted resume? What does self-employment experience look like on paper? Here are some tips that can help.

Start with a powerful objective or summary

Resumes aren’t just a list of things you’ve done—they’re a statement of how your experience fits the position you want. Under your name and contact information, right at the top, you should have a couple of sentences that sum up your qualifications and end goal. 

Use adjectives that put your self-employment experience in perspective: self-driven, hard-working, resourceful, perseverant, etc. You might open with something like, “Highly-skilled and resourceful data scientist with entrepreneurial experience, open to exciting opportunities in the field.”

Alternatively, your first line could be a good place to let employers know about your past achievements. Award-winning projects and other accolades will definitely help you stand out from the crowd, particularly when applying for mid-and high-level positions. Unique and forward-thinking accomplishments are also worth adding. Say you’ve once set up a business to accept cryptocurrency. This might be a skill new employers are looking for.

Follow this section with a brief line or two that summarizes your professional history and offers employers a shortlist of your unique and valuable soft skills. You might say, “After five years of successfully running my own data consulting firm, I’m eager to apply my problem-solving expertise, perseverant mindset, and practical skills to your team.”

List your professional skills and experience

The next section of your resume should be your skills and experience. Some people choose to list their skills in bullet points, then speak to their experience separately. Others knit the two together. 

Organizationally, it makes the most sense to list your past professional experiences from newest to oldest. But you’ll also want to consider relevance. 

For instance, say you’re applying for a warehouse management role. In the past, you’ve done inventory management for your business as well as managed shipments. You might consider splitting your skills and experience into two—” relevant skills and experience” and “other past experience.” The inventory management could be under “relevant experience,” while the shipping could be placed under “other.”

Of course, not every self-employed person is a small business owner. You might have a successful side-hustle or be a freelancer or contractor. If that’s the case, simply write that in. Include your position (“Freelance editor” or “design consultant”) and the timespan, just like any other item on your resume. Then list out all your skills and experience related to that position, including relevant projects, tools you’ve mastered, and accomplishments. Organize them from most impressive to least impressive.

It should look something like this:

June 2010 – November 2021

Freelance writer and author, Santa Monica, California

  • Experienced ghostwriter with several best-selling titles in the romance and sci-fi genres
  • Published author of 12 novels and over 75 articles 
  • Winner of the 2019 Southwest Writers of Excellence award
  • Bilingual blogger and contributor to Santa Monica Sun magazine
  • Adept at balancing multiple projects, deadlines, and clients simultaneously
  • Outstanding interviewing and research skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, and Google Docs

Include your education and any relevant certifications

Once you’ve listed out all your work experience, you’ll want to create a section for education and certifications. Include any postsecondary education experience, including college, trade, and vocational schooling. 

You’ll also want to list any certifications relevant to the positions you’re applying for. These might include technical tools you’ve mastered, as well as courses you’ve completed. Consider certification types and how they can boost your resume’s appeal. If you’re applying for a job with a sustainable or environmentally-friendly business, look into prior eco-certifications you may have qualified for. Be sure to include any certifications you’re currently pursuing. Your potential employer will appreciate your ongoing efforts to acquire new skills.

Make the Most of Your Self-employment Experience

Going back to the traditional workforce after time away can be a little nerve-wracking. But keep in mind the experience you’ve gained as a self-employed person is just as valuable and hard-won as any gained in the employment of someone else. If you can put your best foot forward on paper, it won’t be long before the right opportunity comes knocking. 

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About the author: Danielle Higley is a guest writer, freelance editor, and published author. She lives with her husband, son, and two doodle dogs in Boise, Idaho. Her work has appeared on, The Street, CPA Practice Advisor,, and more.

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