13 Tips to Craft an Incredible Freelancer Resume

Jessica Bugg
March 11, 2022
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The landscape of the work environment is changing at a rapid pace. This is due to the increased flexible work opportunities that have been a casualty or a benefit from the Covid-19 pandemic. For a growing number of professionals, gone are the days of graduating, working for a single employer for thirty years while receiving a steady biweekly paycheck, and retiring into the sunset with an RV to spend your winters in Sarasota.  

If you are looking to see a great freelance resume example, this article will break it all down for you.


There are more freelancers than ever

In 2020, an estimated 57.3 million Americans were considered to be freelancers, meaning they do not have a single employer and may not necessarily have a Monday-Friday 9am-5pm workweek.  Freelancers get their opportunities many times by pitching projects for assignments with varied clients or from client referrals.  While freelancing can be considered less stable than traditional forms of employment, there are a ton of benefits of being an independent contractor. Many freelancers report that their overall income has increased as well as their work-life balance (that last part is debatable).  

Get an unfair advantage with a freelance resume that closes

There are a ton of 1099 jobs out there, and a strong resume gives you a better chance to land the client. You know, a solid freelance resume that will have your potential clients saying, how can I hire this person now? A strong resume that can portray your qualification will often justify the cost of your services.  

A traditional resume will not necessarily be the format you want to utilize when preparing to pitch to a client. That is why we have put together some tips and tricks to create custom freelancer resumes that are more suitable to the demands of a self-employed contractor.

And without further ado, here are 13 resume tips to help you land new clients (if you are already have clients, check out our top freelancer tools you should know about.)

1. Create a strong personal statement

There are as many different types of freelance workers as there are fish in the sea.  Are you a freelance writer?  A coder?  Do you specialize in 3D graphic design?  In a short 2-3 sentence statement at the top of your resume tell the client what you do and what makes you stand apart from the other candidates.

2. Focus on job experience

It’s fantastic that you worked for TJ Maxx during the holiday season of 2008 but when clients are looking for a freelance web designer, they do not necessarily care about that work experience.

Instead, tailor your work history to match the job being requested. Highlight the related projects or full-time work you had as well as the success rate of your projects. Your resume format is crucial.


3. Showcase relevant credentials

Trying to land that coding client?  List your related certifications and courses you have taken that correlate to the job.  You can go as far as to include workshops and specialty pieces of training.  The key here is to list any relevant education experience that correlated to the job at hand.

This includes traditional education as well as more informal education. Did you apprentice under someone?  Put that in there. Do you have a related job title? Completed some freelance work? Include that as well.  All related education to the job at hand should be listed.  Feel free to skip the Associate of Arts degree unless it is in a related field.  

Be sure to list your soft skills (communication, critical thinking) and hard skills (web design, HTML, CSS programming, Microsoft Word, Excel) in one place. These skills will help you show why you charge your 1099 rate.

4. Include your awards

If you have won awards for your work, been recognized by a professional organization, put that in your resume.  Again, make sure that it is related to the job at hand.  Many hiring managers or recruiters are looking for task-oriented people, so while it is awesome that you received an award for most bell-ringing volunteer hours from the local Salvation Army, that does not tell a potential client how well you will perform the job duties they need to be filled.  

5.  Utilize keywords and search-engine optimization (SEO)

The initial pass of a resume is now often filtered by computer software that looks for certain phrases or keywords.  Use this to your benefit.  Are there certain industry phrases that are common for your line of work?  Is there a way to rephrase parts of your resume to include keywords that the client software may be looking for?  Are there certain job qualifications you need? Then do it.  


6. Use the job posting as a resource

Often there are clues in the original job posting that can assist you in tailoring your resume to fit the client’s needs.  If it is listed that they need quick turnaround time and attention to deadlines, make sure you address that somewhere in your resume, particularly in the introductory statement at the top.  

7. Communicate how you can solve their problems

Companies look for freelancers in order to fill a void in the current organization.  There is a problem that your client needs to be solved, which is why they have reached out to freelancers in the first place.  I cannot stress the importance of making sure you address how you specifically are the professional who can meet that need.  

8. Include professional references

For this section of your resume, including two to three strong professional references.  Make sure you ask their permission first and after gaining permission, ensure that you have their most up to date and accurate contact information including mobile numbers and email addresses.  Many times a freelance employer will want job references unless they came to you on an existing referral.  


9. Show off your portfolio

For those of you on the creative side of freelancing, include a link to your online portfolio that the client can access to see samples of your work. Whether it be freelance copywriting, design, video editing, clients will want to see examples of your work or professional experience before hiring you.  

10. Create work samples if you're a beginner

Maybe you haven’t been working as a freelancer for the last several years?  What do you do in that case?  If you are a beginning freelancer, spend the time to create a sample freelance portfolio of your work.  Treat these projects as a resume builder. Even though it was not a paid project, it will still show a potential employer what you can do.  A strong portfolio even filled with sample freelance projects can be invaluable in landing your dream assignment.  

11. Link to your social media

In traditional resume formatting, one has contact information such as address and phone number usually listed across the top as a header.  You do need to include this information as a freelancer but you also will want to include links to your social media account. Become an Etsy 1099 seller, or show off your work on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and any other platform that gives your client an opportunity to know you and your work.  

I do want to mention the importance of maintaining a professional image on social media.  When a potential client is viewing your page, what image do they see projected?  Perception is reality.  Go ahead and take the time to post a great profile pic of yourself as well as maybe editing some statuses that would be better left to private conversations.

12. Check for typos and formatting issues

Nothing quite stands out to a client like a resume filled with misspelled words, a format that is not aesthetically pleasing, or grammar that just doesn’t make sense.  Be sure to review your professional resume several times and then have a friend or colleague review it again.  Better for you to catch the errors before submitting them to a potential client.

13. Customize your resume for each client

This job search tip was saved for last but it is by far the most important.  Make sure you review the job posting or description and then edit your resume to meet the needs of the job description.  A client can tell when you have a canned resume that you send out.  A client can also tell when you have taken the time to thoughtfully prepare a resume that is intended to communicate with them.  Do not take a shortcut by skipping this step. Often, this alone will give you the advantage in your job application.  


As the workscape continues to evolve it is more important now than ever to know how to sell yourself.  Do not be afraid of sounding too boastful of your achievements or skillset.  This is no time to be modest.  A strong resume will go a long way in depicting yourself as an able trustworthy professional who can get the job done and for top dollar at that.  

While not a tip in our list, mention must be made of the importance of pitching multiple clients.  Do not get discouraged if your first round of resume distribution doesn’t land you a six figure client.  Most successful freelancers who are able to create a strong income are constantly propositioning potential clients and sometimes they land the client.  Other times it is not a good fit.  Do not get discouraged.  Freelancing can provide creative freedom, a flexible lifestyle, and lucrative salary potential if you are willing to sell yourself and put in the work.  

Good luck!

Jessica Bugg

Jessica Bugg


Author and Consultant based out of Jacksonville, FL. Over a decade working with small business owners take vision and turning it into a reality.

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