How to Write a Freelance CV That Will Make Clients Notice You

18/08/2017 7 comments

For many freelancers, job hunting is a favourite pastime. Okay, probably not favourite. Far from it. In fact, most freelancers downright hate it. But if you want to get a new gig, you have to go out and start searching for some new clients. This, of course, includes sending your own freelance CV and herein lies the hidden truth behind why nobody wants to hire you. They are not impressed by your resume or CV and it ends up in a trash pile (or your email gets deleted, depending the format you’re using).

How can you make your freelance CV work for you and make help with  make your proposal stand out? I’m going to give you a few tips on how to create a better resume or curriculum vitae here and, hopefully, they will help you land some jobs. So let’s get to it.

What Freelance CV Style Should You Go For?

There are two styles you can go with your freelance CV. They’re essentially how you organize your CV. You can:

  1. Organize your CV in chronological order.

As a freelancer, you probably worked on a number of projects. Organizing them chronologically will allow the potential client to see what projects you worked on before. The problem with this style is that it doesn’t really distinguish between your best and worst work experiences and your role in them, at least not in the way the other style can. Also, you’ll probably want to organize your CV in descending order, starting from the newer projects, down to your older ones.

  1. Organize your CV by skill

As I already mentioned, a simple chronological order doesn’t tell the client much about your work with earlier employers. Saying “I worked from June, 2015 to March 2016 for client A as a copywriter” is too vague. What was your role there? Did you help the client increase sales or leads by X% or CTR by Y%? Clients hire freelancers for their skill, not for the timeline, so I think it’s better to organize your freelance CV this way, especially if you took some breaks with your work.

Brag but Don’t Lie

What does it mean to “brag, but not lie in your freelance CV? This infographic by Live Recruitment will help you spot the biggest 6 lies you need to avoid in your curriculum vitae:

Biggest CV Lies
Infographic created by Live Recruitment

You helped a client get 5,000 unique visitors per month? That’s awesome, put that in your freelance CV and be proud about it. Clients will be very interested to see your accomplishments and how you contributed in any previous projects. But be careful not to exaggerate your contribution or lie about it. These days there’s nothing easier for a potential client to do than to email your previous clients and ask them about you. If their story doesn’t match yours, you’ll just miss a good opportunity for a new project.

The same principle here applies to your skills. We all have certain skills and no person on this planet is skilless. For a freelancer, your skillset will be the main reason why someone would want to hire you. Clients are looking for freelancers who have the skills that they themselves don’t. However, it’s very important to include only the skills that you actually do possess. Don’t say that you have a skill if you don’t. What happens the first time you need to use your fanthom skill? You get ousted as a fraud and the client starts questioning his decision to hire you in the first place.

Include Samples of Your Work

Clients will often want to see some samples of your previous work, so make sure to include the ones you are most proud of in your freelance CV. There are a couple of ways you can do this.

  1. You can put links to any work you’ve done to your previous clients. For example, you can link a particularly good article you’ve wrote, a landing page you’ve designed or something else.
  2. You can attach samples of your work in Word Doc or some other format. Don’t put too many of these, up to two should be enough.
  3. Or, you can simply refer them to your website or an online portfolio.

You should only include a few samples in your CV as your website can serve a better purpose for showcasing your work and you don’t want to needlessly crowd your CV with them.

Your Website, Online Accounts and Portfolio


Your online presence is also a very important part of your freelance CV, so be sure to include it in as well. There are three things that your CV shouldn’t be without:

  • Your own website. You do have one do you? You can use this as a portfolio of your previous work as well as to show your personality. Are you a creative, funny guy or girl? Why not show that through your website?
  • Your LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is a social social networking service oriented towards professionals. If you are looking to connect with employers and businesses, this is where you need to go.
  • Your online portfolios. If you’re just beginning your freelance career it’s a good idea to make an online portfolio that will be separate from your website. For this purpose you can use Contently, which can help you connect with companies who need content writers and its free.
  • Your field-specific profiles. Have a GitHub or Dribble profile? Great, include them in your freelance CV as well and show future clients that you’re an awesome web designer or developer.

Notice that I didn’t mention other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest? That’s because most people use these to have fun and connect with friends. Are you absolutely sure a potential client won’t find you tagged doing something less-than professional? This is why I don’t think it’s a good idea to include these social media profiles in your CV. There are however, situations where having a good social media following and being active there can help you, but that really depends on the the type of project you want to work on.

What Else Should Go In Your CV?

Work history? Check. Work samples? Check. Skills? Check. With these, you’re almost ready to send your CV to freelancer-seeking employers, but not quite yet. Although it probably won’t be a deciding factor, you should also put any formal education you have. Of course, there’s no such thing as a college for freelancers and most freelancers wanted to be something else before they started on this path, so include your formal education, college diplomas and such. It won’t always be relevant, but let’s say a local health clinic needs a new website and you happened to finish medical school. Nice. That means you understand their needs better than the CV next to yours whose owner doesn’t have such background.

Here’s the trick, however. In the long run, the older your diploma, the less it will mean. If you graduated this year or maybe last one, that’s something you can use and show your clients, but after 3-4 or more years it won’t matter any more.  In the meantime, the client has seen dozens of CV from other young, hungry, fresh-out-of-college lions and you can’t play the education card any more.

But that’s just for formal education. I’m a firm believer that education is not over the moment we get out of college, but that you have to continue to pursue it throughout your life even after graduating. So if you have any other certificates and courses, feel free to make room for those in your CV as well.

You should also put some references from previous clients who were happy with your work and know will sing praises about you to anyone who asks. Include their name and email or other way for your potential clients to contact them (LinkedIn profile, their website contact page or something else) and, of course, make sure that you have their permission to use them as a reference.

Don’t be Boring, Show Your Personality

Are you a hard-working, detail-oriented, professional… zzz… content writer? No one cares! Guess what? Your email and your CV just got trashed. Congratulations, you managed to put the client to sleep. But are you a thrill-seeking, scuba-diving, poetry-writing character that can inspire others, be a teamplayer and has the tools to kick-start even the most-yawn-inducing project? Now that kind of a CV will turn heads.

Don’t be afraid to show your more creative side. Your CV will be looked at by a real person and this could be exactly what it needs to catch their eye. Of course, keep in mind the nature and purpose of the project, company culture and who their clients are. If you’re looking to work with a health insurance client catering to elderly folk or a social security company, you might want to dial down on the fun side and put on your suit and tie.

Finally, master your pitch. Let the client know what you can do for them, not how awesome you are. Be direct and clear in your pitch as most clients don’t have the time for you to get to the point. They are busy people and have places to be.

Anything else you would include in a freelance CV? Let me know in the comments below what it is. Also, if you need a CV or resume template, check out Monster for some stunning, professional-looking templates you won’t be ashamed to show to your future clients.