What Do Employers Think of Self-Employment on a Resume?
In the era of the side hustle, many Americans want to be self-employed. Being your own boss, choosing your own hours, and having that kind of flexibility is a huge positive that many people strive for.
At some point in your career, you may have been self-employed. You could have been a freelancer, a consultant, or even the founder of your own small business. But unfortunately, turning a passion project into a company doesn’t work all the time. That’s why many entrepreneurs and freelancers have to go back to corporate roles for the benefits and steady paycheck.
So, how do you list your years of self-employment on a resume? And what do employers think of it? It all depends on how you frame it.
More Americans are self-employed than ever, so employers and hiring managers don’t mind it on a resume as much as they used to. The pandemic especially caused a surge in self-employment, as workers quit jobs in record numbers and struck out to make it on their own. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of November 2021, there were just under 10 million self-employed people in the United States. This was a 6.58% increase from November 2020.
Self-employment is good to put down on a resume and helps explain gaps. It also shows employers that you have an entrepreneurial mindset, a good work ethic, and are keeping up with current trends in the work world.
Empire Resume will explain what employers think of self-employment on a resume, including how to list it and some of the most significant benefits.
How to List Self-Employment on a Resume
Listing self-employment on a resume is not much different than listing a full-time job. And if you frame it right, it can look very impressive to employers.
List the contact information for your self-employment the same way you’d do so for a full-time corporate job. This will depend on the type of self-employment. For example, if you were a freelancer, you could simply list “freelance writer” or something like that. If you started your own company, you could list the company’s name and put yourself as the owner or co-founder.
Discuss the work experience, and remember to not just list the duties you had. Instead, focus on the accomplishments during your self-employed time. This will differentiate you from other job candidates and show employers that you learned a great deal during self-employment and boosted your skillset.
If you continue to freelance while searching for a full-time job, leave the date of your self-employment as “present.” Many employers today realize that workers freelance on the side to make extra money. This could be a problem with some employers, but they’ll let you know likely during the interviewing process.
Transitioning from Self-Employed to Full-time
In today’s workplace where employers are having a more challenging time finding skilled workers continue to quit at record numbers, gaps in a resume aren’t as much of a stigma as they used to be. However, you should still show you did something productive while you weren’t working a full-time corporate job.
Hopefully, you’re self-employed during that time. Employers don’t see this as a bad thing anymore, especially if you can show you learned many valuable lessons and skills that can help their company.
There are several benefits of being self-employed when you either work as a freelancer or run your own business. These things can be communicated as significant positives on a resume, cover letter, and during a job interview.
One big positive is that self-employed people often have to wear many hats and take on responsibilities a full-time employee doesn’t. From sales to HR to marketing, business owners and freelancers have to do it all to keep their self-employment going strong. Make sure you highlight this on your resume.
During self-employment, you also likely develop a vast network of contacts. For example, you probably worked with several employers and talked to many others as a freelancer. This can be very helpful to a business that hires you because your Rolodex of contacts then becomes theirs.
As an entrepreneur, you also must have great flexibility. You were likely flying by the seat of your pants to make enough money each month, pay the bills, and keep your business afloat. For a full-time job, employers love this type of tenacity. Many job descriptions list working in a fast-paced environment and multi-tasking as critical skills.
While applying to full-time jobs, take time to reflect on everything you learned while self-employed. Then, make sure you communicate these valuable lessons and new skills on your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, and during a potential interview with a new company.
Remember to tailor your cover letter to each specific employer. For example, if the full-time job you’re applying to involves direct management, mention how you hired multiple people and managed them when you were self-employed. Whatever the case may be, be sure you connect the dots and make it specific.
Showcase Skills and Lessons Learned
A record number of Americans quit their cushy full-time jobs during the pandemic to join the ranks of the self-employed. Some people became freelancers, some started their own companies, while others may have chased their dream to open a café or restaurant. Whatever the case may be, many of these workers may be applying for full-time jobs again soon.
Being self-employed comes with several perks, but it’s not easy to pull off. Fortunately, many people learn valuable lessons while self-employed that can translate well into the next full-time job they take.
With so many self-employed workers in the U.S. today, employers don’t look at it like they used to. It’s become much more common and accepted to see self-employed listed on a resume.
Employers will likely be impressed by your self-employed years if you play your cards right and showcase the skills and lessons you learned.
Stay tuned to Empire Resume’s blog for more helpful insights into careers and employment, including articles like How Companies Monitor Your Computer, Companies with a 4-Day Workweek, and Industries with Labor Shortages.
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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.