Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.
If you work for yourself doing short-term, project-based work, you probably struggle with how to structure your resume so that it does not give the impression that you switch jobs every few months. If you list each job separately, not only will your resume be too long, but you also run the risk that your reader will think you have not had a stable career, when in fact, if you are a successful freelancer or contractor, the opposite is the case. So how can you structure your resume so that it showcases the strength of your work and avoid having the variety and number of your work experiences come across as a weakness instead?
The key here is “clustering.” Rather than listing each short-term job separately, cluster them all under one heading, such as “independent contractor” or “freelance project manager.” Next to this heading, note the time range (i.e., start and end dates) during which you have worked for yourself. Then, using bullet points, list the individual projects you have completed as a freelancer, noting your primary accomplishments for each one, followed by the related company or organization name and the dates. The goal is to keep the focus of your resume on your accomplishments and not on the frequent job changes. (Also see our blog post on showing accomplishments, not responsibilities in your resume.)
Here’s an example:
2008–present Freelance Project Manager New York, NY
Employee compensation specialist providing advisory and implementation services to the retail industry.
- Led a five-person team in researching employee compensation structures; recommendation was accepted and am currently leading implementation. Project expected to save $750K in first year (ABC Firm, 03/12–present)
- Oversaw implementation of new bonus system for executives in the luxury goods market; led focus groups, presented to senior management, managed IT team in developing new bonus database (XYZ Firm, 11/11–02/12)