There’s no understating how important a good resume is in putting forward the best possible first impression to an employer. Whether you’re freelancing or looking for a full-time job, your resume is the first touchpoint for any client or employer.
So, before jumping into the job search, have a look at your resume and make sure it’s ready to represent you and your work experience for the types of jobs you are looking for.
Tip #1: Tailor-Made
After 10 years of experience, the one-page rule doesn’t apply as much anymore. Some people want to include every single thing. That’s fine for those straight out of college, but once you get past that first page, you have to really start thinking about whether each experience really needs to be there.
Think of what’s best based on the job you’re looking for; specifically, what have you done that correlates to that? For example, as a freelance accountant with CPA certification, I’ll only include experiences when they pertain to enhancing my credibility as an accountant. I’ll even list experiences going as far back as college, such as highlighting my undergraduate degree and GPA in accounting class, or my position as treasurer in a student organization. Some might think to skip over those experiences over in favor of more recent ones, but I keep it in for its relevance.
Obviously, if you’ve worked at an organization for 6 years, it should be included so that there isn’t a big gap in work history. You only want what stands out and specific to the job you’re seeking.
Tip #2: Emphasize Strengths
One of my strongest experiences used in applying to jobs as a freelancer would be my current job working as a media consultant. It’s work of a similar nature to what I would do as a freelancer.
How do you include experience like that on a freelancer resume? I have a separate section for client experience, in which I list projects completed for their clients, which demonstrates my experience in handling clients. In this section, I dive into those specific paths and projects to emphasize what I think is one of my more relevant experiences.
Obviously, these would have been described under my general experience with this company, but those would not have been able to go into as much detail.
Tip #3: Give Just Enough Detail—Not Too Much
Show specificity without being overwhelming. Several areas on my resume could have simply been ”performed accounting consultancy services for clients in a variety of industries,” but instead, I wrote ”industries such as pharmaceuticals, entertainment” or “technical memos in complex areas, such as revenue recognition, multiple revenue accounting.”
As a freelancer, you never know what experiences will be valuable to the next client. The trick here is balance: making them detailed but not too wordy, and sticking to sufficient detail in 1-2 sentences per bullet point.
Tip #4: Clean It Up!
I’ve always been a stickler for cleanliness in presentation. Small details, such as rows that aren’t fully aligned, a cluttered format, inconsistent font, italicization, or indentation jump out almost as much as your experience—negatively. Be particular about the words you use—if it’s a previous job, use past tense; if it’s a current job, use present tense—and the way everything is formatted down to the alignment of each date.
Again, it’s all in the details!
Tip #5: Avoid Repetition
This one is easier to fix. Words like oversee, responsible for, completed, prepared, can all be used to describe projects you worked on in different ways, and adding that variation is important in improving readability and ensuring each individual point is valuable information.
Building up a great resume is tough, but it is worth it. It could be the one item that ultimately gives you advantage over another candidate.
I want my resume to show that I have the expertise and ability to help any client, so I dedicate the time and effort into making my resume a great first impression.
Eric is a CPA with 10 years experience in auditing, accounting advisory and M&A. He has worked with clients ranging from pre-revenue startups to large public companies in a variety of industries. Eric has extensive financial reporting experience, including consolidations, financial statement preparation, audit readiness, management and investor reporting, and IPO readiness.
Eric also has experience both operationally and technically, including establishment or improvement of accounting processes, general ledger setup, and advisory on complex transactions such as debt/equity financing, stock compensation, revenue recognition, business combinations, leases and more. For startup companies, Eric also provides financial modeling and preparedness for investor presentations.