Writing a resume is often the first step you'll take towards landing a new job – and the first impression a potential employer has of you. So, as you're no doubt well aware, it's vital that you get it just right. This sometimes means that people spend hours agonising every word, and never get the thing finished, which is definitely something you want to avoid.
But it is a difficult process and one that can be even more confusing when you don't fit the standard mould in terms of employment. If you've been self-employed for some time, this can put you firmly in this category, making it hard to put an attractive resume together. Follow these tips and you'll be selling your skills in no time.
Word it the right way
Some people advise that you avoid the words "self-employed" on a resume, as employers don't like the sound of it. This may or may not be true, but one thing is certain: you can make it sound a bit more impressive.
Try listing your self-employment as being the owner of a business instead, as it sounds more professional. This is easiest if you've been operating under a business name, but otherwise, you could just state what type of business it is.
Consider a different format
There are conventions and suggested formats for writing a resume and, while these are strongly advised for most people, they're not essential. Sometimes, a skills-focused resume might work best, especially if you have gaps with no employment. Instead of listing all of your work experience in chronological order, these focus on what you can do, and where you've exercised those skills. You might still include your work history later on, but putting your skills up front gets the recruiter's attention and puts you in a good position.
Think about how far back to go
You might decide to include some past employment to show you can work under management, even if it was a long time ago. While this is a good idea in theory, don't put too much down. One or two examples where you used good, transferable skills should do the trick.
Sell your unique experience
Running your own business uses a lot of skills that are valuable in the workplace, so make sure you highlight these. Chances are, you're motivated, hard working, dedicated, focused, and great at networking. Make sure you let the potential employer know what you've learned from being a business owner.
Provide some references, if possible
While you may not have referees available in the form of employers, there's a possibility you could include companies you've contracted for or long-term clients on your resume. However, make sure you check they're okay with it first, and it's better not to list any references than unsuitable ones.