26 September 2012

Resume and CVs for Freelance Writers

by Carrie Bailey 

I'm nearly finished with a graduate degree -YAY! you're all invited to New Zealand to celebrate- and though my freelance writing has not been consistent, I want to claim the skills I've developed writing web content over the past three years while I was at graduate school. Yes, that's right. I got paid to write.  No, not much.

So is there a problem?

Yeah, actually, there is. No matter how I phrase it. I feel like I'm walking a tight rope between misconstruing information, omitting details and selling myself short.

I'm caught between the practical need for brevity and my personal habit of full disclosure for everything like how much weight I put on during graduate school (12kgs) or what I ate for lunch (5 cups of instant coffee and a cheese sandwich) to how I feel about the upcoming election (fine).

Unlike my more traditional work, my experience as freelance writer and editor is difficult to describe succinctly. That's right. I have three years experience writing web content and I am now at a total loss for the right words.

Here's how I've chosen to add my experience to my new resume:

February 2009 - present
Content Writer 

Developed content for online publications including Demand Studios and Ability Trip LLC. Generated more than 500 articles on various topics as a freelance writer. Edited academic publications, creative writing anthologies and multi-author blog. Developed social media campaign reaching 8000 followers on Twitter and over 200 subscribers.
If you've done freelance writing, have you included it on your resume? Did you list every publication you wrote for or only some? Was there unpaid experience that you wanted to claim?

My ethical dilemma is that I've added "Developed social media campaign reaching 8000 followers on Twitter and over 200 subscribers" to my work as a freelance writer, but strictly speaking it was a vital part of my self-employment only-not work I contracted to do for anyone else.

Does that matter? 

Some part of me wants to rewrite my entry like this:

February 2009, April 2009-December 2009, February 2010-December 2011, March 2012, May 2012 June 2012-present.
Content Writer, Copy writer, Editor, Book cover designer, Social media expert 

Look, freelance writing is tough. It's roll with the punches, deal with inconsistent people you've never met in person and sometimes just fall off of the face of the earth without paying you, write content you don't want to show anyone about the melting point of brass or insects that thrive on the beaches of South America and hope you'll get enough work when you've got the time to do it. A lot of the time, I was parenting and going to graduate school (See "EDUCATION"). But, self-employment is employment and I've got skills you might be interested in (See the "Job Positions" up there? Yeah, I did all that).
Of course, I'm not applying for a job as a writer. I've been working in libraries off and on for 15 years and my graduate degree is in Library Science. Yep, I'm going to finish my thesis, get hired to do story time or something seriously bookish and then publish novels. Will I stop freelancing? Never!

It's been the most valuable experience of my life. On that day that I become a career author and hang up my librarian glasses-the square black ones we're assigned to balance on the tips of our noses once we graduate-I'm going to pass around a new resume that'll read:

February 2009-present
Content Writer

For novels! Books. Big thick ones. How about that?
Reptilian World Domination Book
Can I credit myself on a CV
for this Reptilian self-help book?
That day is coming, but for now, I'm curious, how have you presented your freelance writing experience you've looked for traditional employment? Was it a challenge to explain to employers?


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