The Alchemist's Lair
Thoughts on writing, language, life as a freelancer,
and what comes to mind.
and what comes to mind.
Is your freelance resume going to make your case, or kill your opportunities instead?
#1 You beg for work
Statements like ‘I do competitive rates’, ‘Fast and cheap’, or ‘Available 24/7’ are a recipe for disaster.
Think about it. No human can possibly be available 24/7. This claim can only apply to a wider organization where employees work in shifts – not to a solo business setting.
Also, promotion based on low rates is a losing game. In fact, there will always be someone charging less, or willing to work for free to gain some experience, visibility, or a pat on the back.
As a result, what customers will read between the lines is:
Not the smartest move, if you ask me.
The first step towards your relationship with a customer should be instead focused on your skills, and how these will support your customer’s business goals. After all, you don't want your prospects to think of you as the next gorilla that will cheerfully dance for a couple bananas, right?
#2 You list ALL of your working experiences
Glad to know you paid some of your college expenses working as a waiter or pizza delivery boy … but is this relevant to your business? If the answer is 'no', save up some resume space for more valuable information.
If you think some non-related experiences might help making your case, list them. Just make sure to connect the dots for your prospects, i.e. explain what skills and know-how you developed there, and how these help you in the context of your current business.
#3 You list entry-level skills
This is probably the most common resume mistake freelancers make – and yet another one deriving from the 'traditional CV mindset'.
I have lost track of the exact number of freelance resumes I fixed for clients over the last 15 years, and of the many documents I revised for colleagues in my courses and workshops.
The point is, at least 95% of them included bits and pieces of entry-level skills, e.g.
… and many more. You get an idea.
For business owners in the present era, basic IT skills are a given. Don’t waste your time, and valuable resume space, with that.
#4 You call yourself ‘CEO’ or ‘President’
Last but not least …
Titles like CEO, President etcetera only apply to the context of structured organizations.
In a freelance setting, they are plain bulls**t - and your prospects know that.
I get it. You are proud of your business, and want to be acknowledged for your hard work – we all do. Nevertheless, padding out your resume with inflated titles won’t make you look smarter nor more professional.
So, what to do about this? First: forget the ‘sound advice’ of impromptu marketing gurus. You don’t need to make your business look bigger than it is to be taken seriously.
Second: play around a bit with words, and use a more suitable (and genuine) title.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
It's a matter of transparency - and transparency fosters trust.
So, forget the 'big titles', and the posh acronyms. Make sure the way you introduce yourself to prospects with your resume reflects the actual size and scope of your business instead.
The original version of this post appeared on The Alchemist's Lair in November 2012. The post has been edited, improved, and expanded.