New Year, New Resumé

Tips For Revising Your Resumé to Fit the Gig Economy

If you’ve ever tried to use a resumé template or fill out your profile on LinkedIn, you may have found that the usual formats of linear work and education stats don’t really fit well for independent contractors or gig workers.

That’s because we typically don’t hold positions that follow such a perfect structure. Instead, we might wear many hats at once or do a lot of hat swapping. Plus, project dates are often ongoing or overlapping. And we might have work history from previous nine-to-five jobs that is relevant as well. All of these issues may leave you wondering just how to create a neat and easy-to-read resumé you can house on your portfolio or quickly fire off in an email when a potential client asks for one.

1. Categorize.

That’s why you should categorize your resumé by the type of work. If you’re a photographer, a graphic designer, and also a workshop teacher, for example, make headings for those categories and then list positions or roles you’ve held for those jobs. When we have work silos that are different but possibly related, that’s called being a “slashie” (example: yoga teacher/massage therapist/wellness coach).

You might need to occasionally use different versions of the resumé to send to prospective clients. If you’re seeking a teaching role, for example, perhaps the teaching category is listed first on that version. But if you have a master copy that you keep updated, you can easily tweak a version to fit your needs and send it out when necessary.

2. Brand yourself.

Listing work history is easy if your history indeed follows the format of X role at X company from X date to X date. But when you have a mix of traditional jobs and freelance gigs, that list can start to look messy or out of balance. A great solution is to have a section that brands yourself as an independent contractor. Example: Your Name Photography.

Under that brand, you can then list various projects, ongoing roles, skills, or whatever best showcases your line of work. In addition to helping to clean up your resumé, branding yourself as an independent contractor presents you as a true professional. You can read more about creating your personal brand in this Forbes piece.

3. Don’t worry about the gaps.

Resumés typically include start and end dates for positions so that a prospective employer can look for any unexplained gaps in your work history. When you’re an independent contractor, gaps shouldn’t be seen as red flags. But if you’re worried about dates leading to confusion, you can hide holes by using your branded section. That section should say from X year to present. Let the time range encompass any years where spaces in work history are present.

4. Beat the robots. 

Some employers now use software to screen large volumes of resumés, so tailoring your history to stand-out in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is important. When applying online, you’ll want to submit your resume as a text document like Word to all the system to analyze your words, rather than a PDF or other format which could cause your application to be immediately rejected if the characters are not properly translated by the program. You’ll also want to make sure to use keywords and phrases. Review the job posting and try to incorporate some of the descriptive words into your application details.

Software programs can be used to scan your social media persona, too. It’s good practice to make sure that your accounts are consistent with the information you present when submitting your online applications. Try adding some of those key words and phrases to your socials for recognition during web searches.

5. Nix irrelevant experience.

Despite the way resumés have changed with the times, a key piece of advice still rings true: Keep your resumé to one page. That may seem difficult if you’ve had a storied work history. But easy targets for deletion are any jobs not related to your specific industry, internships that were stepping stones to more prominent roles, excessive bullet points that were once used as padding, skills that should be a given, etc.

6. Feature the important items.

Typically, resumés have a lot of wasted space. By using a two-column template to highlight skills, organizations, awards, and the like, you can maximize what you can get on your single page. Another added bonus of this format is that it doesn’t bury your most important info. While a former or present position might be a nine-to-fiver’s biggest asset, an independent contractor or gig worker might prefer to highlight a portfolio link, a robust skill inventory, their book or bylines, software or programs they’re proficient in, panels they’ve participated in, or even a list of high-profile clients. These items might be the best ticket for landing that next gig.