Editorial note: All Guest Post authors share their views and experiences, and do not represent Week of Saturdays.
Using a CV as a recruitment criterion is one thing freelance and traditional jobs might have in common. Now, before you roll your eyes and say, “But Upwork or Fiverr jobs don’t demand for my CV. Duhhh.”
Know that those two platforms aren’t the only freelance platforms. There are several other platforms whose job postings require a freelance CV submission.
Yes, I admit. I used to think like you. I thought the CV criterion was too traditional to be brought to the freelance world. The freelance world is “too cool” to do any corporate shenanigans (think: CV). For a long time, I didn’t have a freelance CV.
The reason for the CV criterion, especially in this period, is not far-fetched. With many companies going remote and trying to save costs, more employers are employing independent workers and freelancers.
However, some employers aren’t familiar with the basis for employing freelancers (portfolios, blogs, and websites). And so, they stick with the traditional option (CV submission) to determine which freelancer to interview and eventually select.
So, if you ditched your CV (or never had one), think again.
But when do you need to submit a freelance CV?
When you study job posts, you’ll realize that not all clients explicitly demand a freelance CV. Instead, the job requirements might necessitate it.
The screenshot below is an instance of such a scenario. The client seeks a freelancer with a particular skillset. So, a CV would be needed to prove the possession of such a skill.
On the other hand, some clients are straightforward about their requirements for a CV. Below is an example:
Notice how this client outrightly requested that the candidate send in a CV? When applying to such a job, submitting your CV is not an option. You must do it.
In other instances, a client might ask you to submit your CV alongside writing samples or a link to your portfolio.
If you don’t have a portfolio, here are websites that offer free and formatted portfolios (specifically for writers):
For job posts that don’t demand a CV or prove of required skill, your work samples speak volumes.
Now that we’ve covered how to know when to submit a CV, let’s discuss how to write an irresistible freelance CV.
9 tips for writing a freelance CV that makes a client want to hire you right away
1. Use the right formatting
There are endless options of CV formats. However, most clients prefer popular formats. So, even if you love to keep it “innovative” or “creative,” experiment that ingenuity with your content, not your CV format. Making your CV a gallery of many colors or using hard-to-read fonts might make your client throw your CV into the trash folder.
The popular CV formats include:
a. Chronological organization
Here, your recent client or gig comes first. This format is ideal for freelancers whose bulk of experience comes with long-term gigs or specialists in a particular niche.
b. Functional organization
Here, the work experience section categorizes according to skills or job type. It is ideal for freelancers with a vast background of short-term projects or multiple niches.
Below is what a functional freelance CV looks like:
Overall, the second format style is a better choice for many freelancers as skill and project are more determining than timeline. It’s also a perfect choice for those with an employment gap.
2. Include a professional profile
Unlike career objective (which is outdated by the way), which uses a paragraph format in highlighting a candidate’s skills and qualifications, a professional profile uses a bullet point format. It gives your CV a more organized and neater look, thereby encouraging a hiring manager to give it a quick read.
The screenshot below is a practical example of what a professional profile looks like:
In this CV, the candidate uses a four-bullet point profile to highlight her skills, qualifications, and experience. It’s the first thing the client sees when examining her CV and encourages a further read.
Pro tip: Don’t include cliche words like experienced, detailed-oriented, focused, professional, proactive in your profile. Doing so will only make your client roll her eyes. Instead, let your work experience and portfolio demonstrate them. Show, don’t tell.
3. Highlight your best (and relevant) work experience
Your CV is not necessarily an accurate representation of who you are, but it speaks for you whenever you’re absent. And clients want to know that you’re the best person for their project. So, convince them by including work experience that demonstrates the required expertise.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when highlighting your work experience:
- Pick the past clients or projects most relevant to the target gig. For instance, if the posted job is SEO-related, include majorly recent clients/gigs where you demonstrated proper use of SEO skills.
- Include a minimum of three clients/gigs, listing the most “notable” ones first.
- Notable means name-dropping. Yes, your best job may have been for that small startup. But clients are humans, and they’re better impressed when you highlight big brands. So, even if the project was not exactly your best, listing past gigs for popular brands increases your chances of getting hired.
- After listing your freelance experience, you can highlight your past ‘9-5’ roles if they helped you develop important transferable skills.
- Make past job descriptions more interesting by starting with verbs. Prove you’re a doer. Also, don’t start with cliche verbs or use the same verb every time. Rather than saying “achieved,” use a stronger verb like “propelled,” championed,” “exceeded,” or “demonstrated.”
- If you know the metrics of your past clients, use them to back up your claims. For instance, instead of “Wrote articles as a freelance writer,” write this instead: “served as a writer in a team of 2 that grew traffic from 100,000 to 300,000 per month.”
While you might have lost count of your gigs, you don’t have to list them all in your CV. The last thing you want to do is bore a hiring manager with unnecessary details.
You’re competing with a sea of freelancers (okay, maybe not a sea, but you get the idea), so try to keep your work experience section short and sweet. This makes it easier for a client to move you to the next stage.
Pro tip: Always record your projects in a file and write a sentence describing each. This prevents you from losing track of all your gigs.
4. Showcase work samples
In situations where the job post requires only CVs and not work samples, include a work sample in your CV to back up your credibility. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Write “see my full portfolio on XYZ” in the footer of your CV.
- Attach work samples alongside your CV in your email. But remember, less is more. Don’t overload your client with samples. Keep it best at five samples.
- Create a second page in your CV to add thumbnails of your past projects (P.S. this strategy works better when you’re a visual content creator).
5. Include your online presence
Your online presence is just as significant as your work experience. But since the phrase “online presence” is broad, what aspects of your web presence should you include in your CV?
- Your website. As a freelancer, a website is a core need. It entails your portfolio and easily wins as the most significant item on your CV. A great professional website shows you’ve got your shit together and invested significantly in your business. If your website doesn’t display that, try to update it.
- Your industry-specific profile. If you’re a freelance developer, you need to include a Github account. And if you’re a designer? Including your dribbble account link is a must.
- Your LinkedIn account. Ensure it’s up-to-date and optimized adequately by updating the summary and responsibilities section, getting recommendations, and rewriting your headline.
- Probably your Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest account. This is a bit dicey, especially if you use these accounts majorly for personal purposes. To determine whether to include links to your social accounts or not, ask yourself, “Am I professional or interesting on social media?” If you’re not, you shouldn’t include them.
6. Show off your side interests
If you’ve any side interests, don’t be afraid to show it off. It can turn out to be a key advantage.
The fact that you’re a developer who sings in your spare time could be a deciding factor for a client who wants to make sure you have the right vibes. For instance, one of my present clients started working with me because she likes my Instagram page. In her words, “I knew you’re the right guy for the job the moment I saw your Instagram content. It resonated with me”.
In your CV, don’t just present your business self. Show some personality as well. Because at the end of the day, people hire people, not “businesses” hire “skills.”
To display your side interests/hobbies, include a blurb at the bottom part of your CV. You might include your Instagram page link, secondary portfolio, blog, or e-book.
7. About your contact details…
Forget what they told you about including contact details at the top of your CV. It’s not as important as you think.
Yes, the 9-5 guys may care, but freelance clients don’t give two hoots. Clients want to buy services, not your home address. While you need to tell clients how to contact you, your contact details shouldn’t be the first point of contact in your freelance CV (no pun intended). Instead, include it at the end of the page.
If your CV makes you seem like the right choice, the client will make it through to the contact details. And you don’t need to include your home address. Your email address, phone number, and website are enough.
8. Conclude with core competencies
Not everyone takes this section with the desired seriousness, but as a freelancer, outlining your key competencies can improve your chances of landing a gig.
Since freelance work is remote, clients want dependable workers who can execute. As such, include saleable skills in your CV. Microsoft Word has been rendered to nothingness as everyone includes it in their CV lately. So there is no need to add it. Instead, you can include skills such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Management System (CMS) (e.g., Droopal, WordPress), Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) if you’re a freelance writer.
Again, you don’t have to overload a client with information. So, break it down into a list of 5-10 skills. Specifically, include skills highlighted in the job posting.
9. Go the extra mile
Don’t just stop at demonstrating your competencies. Go the extra mile by proving you’re creative and the right cultural fit. Before sending in that CV, research the client. In other words, carry out due diligence.
Check out their social media feed. Study the “about us” page on their website. Read their blog posts. Overall, get an idea of the company’s culture and mission.
Demonstrate your understanding either through the tone of your CV or attaching samples that possibly align with their mission.
Pro tip: In your cover letter, you can find a way to congratulate the company on a recent win or even include a relevant link that will take them closer to their goals.
Top CV templates to begin with
If we’re to be completely honest, CV writing is no walkover task. While you may have the content, formatting from scratch is somewhere between exhausting and tricky.
You need to pay attention to formatting because it determines your CV’s chances of being read. Why?
A computer program called Applicant Tracking System analyzes CV content (to see if it matches the job requirement) before an actual human reads it.
So while there are tons of CV templates to get started with, you need templates that easily outdo ATS as not all templates follow best practices To read more about beating ATS, start here.
Now that we’re clear on that, scroll down the top 4 templates (which follow ATS best practices) below to see which is best for you:
HLoom’s fundamental template works for ATS. It is a chronological CV with an experience, skills, and education section.
Recommended for freelancers with extensive long-term projects.
This template is a minimalist CV with space for summary (replace with profile), work history, education, and skills.
Recommended if you want a no-risk option that still includes everything you need.
This CV template emphasizes your skills. However, replace the objective section with a profile and delete the references section.
Recommended for freelancers with an extensive history of short-term gigs.
Although it is a two-column CV and has a photo (which you can remove), this template is an excellent choice if you want to stand out without being excessive. The blue design makes it a bit extra, but everything else is simple and neat.
Do I need to hire a professional CV writer?
Despite the strategies in this blog post, you might find it hard to come up with a compelling CV. And I don’t blame you. Selling one’s expertise on paper isn’t something everyone has.
As a freelancer, it might be worse since you’re not in a traditional path that bounds you to a particular role. If you’re not sure whether to hire a professional CV writer, here are tell-signs to consider:
- Your current CV is not landing you any interviews.
- You find it hard to sell yourself in a non-boastful and professional way.
- You don’t know how to pass ATS requirements.
- Your written English is not excellent.
- You’ve not applied for gigs in a long time.
- You want to stand out from the pile of substandard C.V.s out there.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, I recommend getting your CV written by any of the companies below.
Recommended agencies for CV writing help
1. BTDT Hub
Founded by a renowned personality, Dipo Awojide, Btdt Hub is a British-Nigerian Human Capital Development focused on training, employability, careers, and recruitment.
They offer a wide range of services from CV review, LinkedIn profile optimization, to CV and cover letter writing. They also have a newsletter featuring professional advice and everything in between.
Need anything else? Check out their site to learn what they offer.
2. CV loft
CV Loft is a resource and talent pooling company that connects qualified candidates to paid opportunities. To help you build a CV that makes clients hire you right away, CV Loft offers original templates and human writers to review your CV. They also offer LinkedIn optimization and cover letter writing.
They offer self and assisted pricing plans ranging from as low as N1,000 (one thousand naira) to as high as N15,000 (fifteen thousand naira).
3. My Jobmag
My Jobmag offers professional CV writing that will make clients notice you. Offering three packages, they help you determine your career trajectory, stand up against ATS (through the use of keywords), and provide a custom CV that tells your career story best.
There you have it. Following the steps we have outlined above, you’ll have clients finding your freelance CV irresistible and hiring you right away. Have more questions on this topic? Let us know in the comments below.