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Insights & Advice

How to tailor your CV for freelance

One of the first things we ask for from people who are looking to register with us for freelance is a CV.

Although CVs are often deemed as things of the past, clients still really like to see them, as opposed to LinkedIn profiles. As do we, here at Beyond the Book.

Your CV is an important selling tool for your skills and experience on a freelance basis. It should be a comprehensive summary of who you are, what you offer as your freelance service, what experience you have and what tools you use to deliver your work. It needs
to convince the reader very quickly that you are worth investing more of their time in.

Also, if you choose to work with a recruitment company, your CV and portfolio (where applicable) are your chance to indirectly communicate your story to the end client in your own words. So, don’t underestimate the value of a good CV. Even the most senior of people, who would like to think their experience speaks for itself, need one.

How is a freelance CV different from a permanent CV?

  • The CV you use for finding a permanent role should be tailored specifically for the type of job you are looking for, as well as the company you are applying to. However, a freelance CV needs to cater for all relevant clients and requirements, that are within your skill set.
  • Freelance CVs should communicate your whole service offering and experience from the very start in a concise and clear manner. As freelance often has to be a relatively quick decision, this approach to your CV allows the decision-maker to more easily determine whether you have what they need for their requirement.
  • In terms of length, we recommend sticking to a maximum of 2 A4 pages. Also, bear in mind that often your CV is first of all reviewed by an HR professional, who may not have a detailed understanding of your role, therefore, it’s essential that your CV is jargon free and communicates your service offering in a clear manner.

Structure of your freelance CV

  • It is important to plan the information flow for your freelance CV. You want the most important information about you and your experience to be at the very start and the less relevant details to come later. This way you set out what you can bring to the table from the outset and will avoid the reader missing any key information.
  • For example, you could start with a short paragraph, or a profile, that sets out everything you offer as a service, the experience you have and what tools you use to deliver you work. The idea here is to give a good overview of your experience as a whole and make sure
    it’s clear to the reader what your capabilities are. This introductory overview should be more focused on your service offering than you as a person, as it is your experience and skill that clients will buy into. Please see the example below

“I am a freelance middle-weight Designer with significant experience in the retail sector. I have worked very successfully with many leading retail brands over the past 20 years to create exciting design concepts and well-crafted visuals. This coupled with 10 years of working in a freelance capacity offers clients an experienced and confident freelance solution”.

  • As part of the introduction, you should also highlight the relevant software skills or any other tools you use to do what you do. Even if you think it is obvious that as a Designer you use Adobe CC apps in your day to day, don’t leave it for assumption, put those on your CV. However, only list the software you have extensive experience of using as the client will expect you to be able to go in and easily pick up that piece of software.
  • While your freelance profile already explains what you do, don’t forget to add your work experience to your CV. Potential clients will want to see where and how you gained the experience you talk about in your introduction, so elaborate a little more about your relevant responsibilities in previous roles. Also, don’t forget full company names, job titles and dates. A prospective client or recruiter will want to know what you specifically did and what your responsibilities were, that make you an expert in your field.
  • Remember to be quite bold with cutting out information that doesn’t add any weight to your freelance offering. Things such as answering a telephone as part of your first admin role don’t really make you the Web Designer you are today.
  • You don’t necessarily need to add all of your past employment if you have done what you do for a long time, however, we would recommend having at least the past 5-10 years of employment on your CV. ·
  • Education is important, and it depends on the nature of the work, but with freelance, clients don’t tend to require a certain qualification. Therefore, leave your education among the last things on your CV. It is good to list the education you have and any other qualifications, but the key is to keep it brief and relevant to what you offer as a freelancer.

Choose an appropriate format and design

Microsoft Word and PDF CVs are still the most common format for CVs. With Apple’s Pages, we have seen an increase in Pages CVs being sent to us, but sadly we cannot open those. So that leads us to our next point - choose an appropriate format for your CV.

  • A Microsoft Word CV or a PDF, is a safe bet if you don’t know what operating system the recipient is using. Windows users cannot convert Pages documents to Word docs, but you should easily be able to convert a Pages doc to a Word doc in Pages, before sending it to a client or a recruiter.
  • Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply to Creatives. Having a Word CV from a Creative or Studio freelancer is a little underwhelming. If you have the skills to design a neat layout for your CV, which marries up with your portfolio, it makes your CV stand out more, plus it demonstrates an investment of time.
  • However, don’t over design your CV. There is no need for anything flashy. Just make sure the layout is neat and it communicates your experience in the best possible way. If you use both a CV and portfolio to market yourself, try to marry those up together in terms of design and content.
  • Infographics add a visual element to a CV, which can be useful to save space and communicate certain skills but be careful not to overuse visual elements as you may miss out key information.
  • Lastly, you may be gorgeous but please leave out the photo! You will not want anyone forming any opinions on you based on your looks. Let the experience and your skills do the talking!

Keep your CV up to date

Once you have fully immersed yourself into to the freelance life, it will be busy but remember to keep your CV up to date - especially when sending your details to new client prospects.

Here at Beyond The Book, we aim to make freelance work a positive experience for everyone. We want you to have a successful career and hope you have found this information useful. Where possible, we are very happy to give more tailored and specific advice on CVs.

For more information please contact us on 01789 451510 or email us

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