For most job seekers, the primary objective is to land a position, move up the career ladder, and eventually retire after decades of service – hopefully all with the same company (although that’s more of a rarity nowadays). However, certain industries and professions lend themselves more to short-term projects. For individuals who specialize in contract work and freelancing, it’s all about the next job. The rise of the gig economy has made freelancing far more common, but many job seekers still wonder how to list contract work on a resume. If you’re putting together your gig economy resume and don’t know where to begin, read on for a few tips as well as examples of how to list contract positions on your resume.
First and foremost, make it clear that these are contract assignments, so you don’t look like a job-hopper. Most employers are familiar with gig work at this point, but that doesn’t mean you can assume they’ll understand that the five jobs you had over a two-year period were short-term projects. Spell it out for them when you list positions in your professional experience section:
iHire, LLC, Frederick, MD Apr.–Jul. 2019
Software Developer (Contract Position)
Always keep in mind that your resume is a marketing document. It’s meant to sell your professional skills, qualifications, and unique expertise. You can’t do that without providing concrete details about the duties you performed, contributions you made to client success, and scope of projects you completed.
For all the reasons listed above, it’s not a good strategy to simply list a bunch of client names or rely on two-word descriptions like “logo design” or “.NET programming.” Tell your story and show potential employers what you have to offer.
In a traditional resume, each position should include a job description paragraph followed by a few bulleted achievements. Following that game plan in a gig resume would create a document that is far too long and repetitive, so find a way to avoid that problem. If you were freelancing, include “Freelance” in your title, and do away with the employer name:
Freelance Graphic Designer, Frederick, MD 2017–2020
If you have completed engagements through a staffing firm, list that company as the employer and create a short paragraph summarizing the basic duties you performed for each project. List each project with some basic details and a few bullets demonstrating the results you delivered:
ABC Staffing, Frederick, MD 2017–2020
Completed numerous assignments for staffing agency specializing in commercial art projects. Devised marketing collateral and collaborated with client companies to develop promotional campaigns, create logos, prepare sales sheets, and design websites.
You’ve most likely heard the advice that you should tailor your resume for the specific position you want, but what does this mean for a gig resume? Simply put, if you’ve completed a number of projects that line up perfectly with your dream job’s requirements and display your qualifications for the role, put those projects in a prominent position on the resume!
The easiest way to do this is by using the hybrid strategy, which incorporates a career highlights section between the summary paragraph and the professional experience section. By including a few of your “greatest hits” in this section of the resume, you’ll call attention to your main selling point(s).
If you have executed numerous projects with nearly identical scopes or duties, don’t feel required to list them separately and repeat duties over and over again. Adjust your strategy to avoid being repetitive, streamline your information, and tout your accomplishments:
ABC Staffing, Frederick, MD 2017–2020
Completed numerous assignments for staffing agency specializing in commercial art projects. Devised marketing collateral and collaborated with client companies to develop promotional campaigns, create logos, prepare sales sheets, and design websites. Clients included ABC Playhouse (Aug.–Sep. 2019), DEF Records (Mar.–Jun. 2019), and GHI Publishing (Dec. 2018–Feb. 2019).
You don’t need to tell your whole life story on your resume, and you don’t need to include an exhaustive list of every single project you’ve ever done. Not every gig is noteworthy. Perhaps you didn’t see eye to eye with a client’s chosen direction or maybe a particular project wasn’t successful because of external factors – whatever your reasons are, feel free to cut any projects that don’t present your qualifications the way you would like.
However, when making decisions about what to include on the resume and what to leave off, you must consider your career timeline. If leaving off a project will create the appearance of a gap, you may have to include that less-than-stellar gig rather than making it seem like you were out of work for a year.
Feel free to experiment with a more modern design for your resume (especially if you’re in a creative field) – just don’t take your design too far. You may also want to craft a professional portfolio to complement your resume. Portfolios can be valuable additions to your personal marketing materials and enable you to show off your qualifications with visual examples of your work.
For job seekers wondering how to list contract work on a resume, the main challenge is organization. “How do I present gig experience on a resume without looking like a job-hopper or creating a 10-page document?” Using the strategies above will help you consolidate your information and arrange your projects strategically to highlight your qualifications in an easy-to-read format. And if you’re still unsure of the best strategy for your resume, the certified resume writers at iHire are always here to help.