Formatting a resume to cater to your freelance writing experience can sometimes feel like a conundrum, especially if you’re in the process of applying to traditional, non-writing jobs.
Do you focus on prestigious publications? The quantity of clips you’ve accumulated? Or skills you’ve picked up on as a small business owner?
To investigate the issue, I consulted four freelancers about how they format their resumes to reflect their writing-related accomplishments.
1. Dedicate an entire section to freelance writing
Freelance writer Alaina Leary reserves an entire section in her resume dedicated to writing.
It includes a bulleted list of her biggest accomplishments. She also does this for her work as a freelance editor and social media manager.
Alternatively, in a CV with more space, freelance writer and editorial associate Ilana Masad adds her individual, regular contributing positions as job titles under her work experience.
“I have a few more regular freelance gigs added separately, like my ongoing column, my stint as a submissions reader for a lit mag and a short video I once made for Planned Parenthood,” explains Olga Kreimer, freelance writer and editor. “My resume is a big of a grab bag of long-term jobs that overlapped with short-term projects and freelance work.”
Giulia Pines, another freelancer, celebrates whenever she updates her resume, because it means she’s landed a new byline or job. Additionally, she seperately lists ongoing projects that highlight something different and new, such as being an expert in a niche topic or writing in a different genre.
“I will generally allot [my freelance writing work] 3 to 4 bullets: selected list of bylines, basic explanation of my process (generating story ideas, pitching, researching, editing), blurb about how I correspond with editors, something about meeting deadlines,” explains Sarit Luban, freelance writer.
2. Save clips for a cover letter
Leary doesn’t recommend adding links to clips on your resume. Instead, use your professional website to highlight your wide variety of bylines and styles.
“Because I publish so often, I’d spend hours obsessing over which clips to include and which to leave out,” she explains. “I already struggle with that on my portfolio, but at least that’s online so there’s room for me to include, say, 15 clips instead of three.”
Alternatively, Leary has a specific section dedicated to “Published Work” that lists the publications her work has appeared in. “This list has grown over time and now only reflects the chosen highlights from my portfolio,” she adds.
However, clips can be a nice addition to a cover letter for writing jobs, especially if you’re writing about a specific topic. Be intentional about which clips you choose as well.
“If I were to be applying to a job at a reproductive health NGO, let’s say, then I’d include clips to articles that express something of my connection to the cause,” Masad adds.
3. Know how to sell yourself
When you’re transitioning from freelancing to a more traditional job, Leary suggests preparing yourself for hard hitting questions like, Why do you want a full-time job? And Will you continue your freelance work if you’re hired?
Asking yourself these important questions can help you use phrases, like “deadline-driven,” “speed reader” and “critical thinker” to your advantage, and help you talk about your goals on the spot during an interview, too.
Leary says to find a compelling way to convince your prospective employer why you’re excited to work for their company, serving a particular role, even if it isn’t writing-focused.
Articulate that in your resume as well.
“If you’re applying to traditional jobs that aren’t writing focused, but may involve some writing skills, anticipate them asking you about that, too,” Leary mentions. “These jobs are sometimes worried that you won’t be happy in marketing or social media or publicity, because you aren’t the journalist in that scenario.”
Masad stresses playing up your ability to adapt to different types of professional environments.
“If the job is copywriting and you’ve been a journalist, expressing enthusiasm for the kind of creativity that copywriting allows or an affinity to the strictures of the company’s type of copywriting makes it clear that you can think outside the box and find interest in any kind of writing you’re assigned,” she mentions.
There is no one single way to format a resume as a freelance writer.
A huge part of our jobs is its lack of conventionality compared to a traditional desk job. However, there are a few strategies — such as dedicating a section to freelance writing, reserving clips for a cover letter, and marketing yourself efficiently — that greatly benefit other freelance writers when job hunting.
These will especially come in handy when you’re applying for non-writing jobs.