If you have experience working as an independent contractor, it's only natural to wonder how to best highlight this type of experience on your resume. With standard resumes, work is usually listed in reverse chronology, placing more recent experience first and previous jobs. However, independent contractors often work on several projects for multiple clients over time. For this reason, a functional, or skill-based listing may be more beneficial. Both options are illustrated here.
Interior designers often work as independent contractors. Use the first example to emphasize your overall consulting experience or the second if you want to emphasize a particular client.
Independent Consulting Example
2007 - Present: Independent Interior Design Consultant
Able to take information obtained from client interviews to create unique and vivid visual presentations of new design concepts. Design residential and commercial interiors for renovations updated according to the client's current needs. Expert at increasing the functionality of a room with specific design and storage elements that maximize usable space.
Single Client Sample Text
2007 - Present: Lakeshore Residential Properties; Freelance Interior Designer and Home Staging Consultant
Designed interior residential spaces for new homeowners. Consulted with home sellers on ways to make their homes more attractive to prospective homebuyers. Staged their homes with leased furniture to make their resale property show like a new home, leading to increased purchasing offers.
It's not unusual for web designers to work as independent contractors. Use the first example to emphasize your experience as a self-employed designer and the next if you provided freelance services to a consulting firm owned by someone else.
2007 - Present: Self-employed; Quantum Corporation (own business); Freelance Web Designer
Create multimedia websites for corporate clients. Responsible for quality assurance of finished websites including validation of pages and links. Trained end users on new website operations. Verification and testing to determine that all created sites are search engine optimized. Overseeing of site updates and preparation of update reports to corporate management. Highly skilled at designing multi-functional websites with graphic interfaces for both small and large scale usage.
Consulting Firm Example
2007 - Present: Bryson Computer Consultants; Freelance Web Designer
Developed new web interfaces, layouts and site graphics. Created websites, portals and large-scale web applications. Built test websites for sales demonstrations to potential clients. Installed digital shopping carts for online businesses using CGI scripts for client websites as part of a team of independent contractor consultants on multiple projects. Created graphics including icons and logos using Photoshop. Validated completed sites by debugging and testing code.
Makeup artists often work as independent contractors. Use the first example to emphasize your overall consulting efforts and the second to go into detail about your freelance work for a particular firm.
2010 - Present: Self-Employed; Independent Professional Makeup Consultant
Perform professional cosmetic application for fashion shows, photo shoots, weddings, theatrical performances, special events and general makeover consultations for private clients. Experienced in a variety of specialized makeup techniques including traditional/classic, beauty/glamour, fantasy/theatrical, and airbrush application. Utilizes proper sanitization and hygiene for all makeup tools and inventory. Skilled at product marketing and promotion while hosting special events providing makeover services.
2010 - Present: Northwest Outlet Mall/Diva Cosmetics Boutique; Freelance Makeup Artist
Taught various makeup techniques including traditional/classic, beauty/glamour, fantasy/theatrical, and airbrush application at weekly special events in-store. Demonstrated makeup styles and techniques on scheduled and walk-in clients. Maintained product and application tool inventory and oversaw proper sanitization and hygiene. Promoted and marketed products and makeover services.
Fashion stylists frequently work with clients on an independent contractor basis. The first example emphasizes overall freelance work in this field while the next one highlights work for a specific company.
Freelance Experience Overview
2007 - Present: Freelance Fashion Stylist
Capable of providing fashion styling for a variety of clients from upscale and formal to casual and sporty. Coordinates accessories to outfits to project different looks suitable to a variety of social situations. Personal shopping and fashion makeover experience for multiple clients, both male and female. Styling of wardrobes for editorial and commercial fashion photo shoots, catalog shoots, network television shows and motion picture film projects.
2007 - Present: Millennium Fashions, Inc.; Independent Fashion Stylist
Provided upscale fashion styling and coordination for weddings, proms, film premieres and other special events. Assisted in personal shopping and makeover services as needed.
Professional writers also often work for clients on an independent contractor basis. Highlight your overall background as a freelancer with the first example or provide detailed information about your work with one particular client using the second.
Overall Freelance Example
2005 - Present: Independent Freelance Writer
Experienced in desktop publishing such as the creation of newsletters, brochures and other documents. Offering a variety of writing services to multiple clients such as content for websites, print publications and businesses including SEO articles, white papers, technical guides, advertising and promotional copy, reports, grant proposals, resumes, press releases, how-to articles, speech-writing, and product reviews. Extensive research and fact-checking skills. Updating, rewriting, editing and proofreading of existing content as needed.
Work for a Specific Client
2005 -Present: Media One Publishing; Freelance Writer and Independent Editorial Assistant
Performed multiple duties such as updating and rewriting content, editing and proofing of written content, and creating newsletters for private organizations. Performed extensive research as needed and fact-checked written copy.
Reference Tips for Independent Contractors
Satisfied past clients make excellent professional references, and can be highly valuable to your continued success as an independent contractor. Keep the format of your reference sheet simple and basic. It should list only the past client's name (or company name, if applicable) and their number and/or email. Ideally, you should always be prepared with a list of such references in the event that potential employers or clients request them.
A company's human resources department is not likely to have any record of your freelance work for the firm since you performed services as an independent contractor rather than an employee. In this situation, your references can come from supervisors or other coworkers and clients that you worked with at the company who remember you and can vouch for your work.
If you are fortunate enough to have repeat clients with whom you have worked more than once over several years, these names should grace the top of your list of references. Such people are obviously going to speak well of both you and your work as they are happy to continue to engage your services.
Never use as a reference any client for whom you performed work of a sensitive or confidential nature, or who asks not to be contacted as a reference. Of course, such situations are extremely rare. Most happy clients are delighted to speak about you to potential clients. Remember that it is always a good practice to ask permission to include a past client's name on your reference list, so they know you may be providing their number or email to others considering using your services.
Highlight Your Skills and Experience
As an independent contractor operating a freelance business, your resume is just as important to you as that of a traditional employee. It should be maintained and kept updated along with polished samples of your work. Like your business card, a coherent and easy to understand resume clarifies your skills as a freelancer and allows you to present in a professional light.