Creating a resume as a self-employed individual presents some challenges. If you already have an established business, some of this information is superfluous, but if you have been doing contract work, there are details to manage beyond the summary of the work you have been doing.
If you own an established business, you probably already have a company name, but if you are doing freelance work or contract consulting, you might not. You need to put something in for company name that helps the reader understand you are indeed self-employed but also has some gravitas to it. It could be something as simple as “Jane Doe XYZ Consulting” (assuming your name is Jane Doe, of course!).
If you are doing contract work, you want to avoid putting, “Self-employed” or “Freelancer” as your title. While this may technically be what you are doing, again you want to label yourself in such a way as to lend credibility to the work you are doing. Consider “CEO/Founder,” or if that is overreach, something like “Senior Consultant” or “Senior Engineer.” Choose something that is as close to what your title would be were you employed by someone else without being too self-congratulatory. For those of you with existing businesses, the “CEO/Founder” designation is most likely an accurate depiction.
If you are running a business with tangible goods or services, it should be fairly straightforward to map out your experience. Hopefully you have been keeping careful tabs on the successes you have had. For contractors, you should discuss projects you have worked on for various firms, listing out details on those particular projects as much as you can without risking the breach of any confidentiality agreements you have in place. With any luck you have some good, quantifiable results that you can point to as well. Here are some examples of how you could present projects:
“Overhauled payment system for $XMM automotive parts manufacturer, resulting in reduction of A/P by 20%.”
“Performed research and presented findings related to a proposed expansion of a non-profit into a new territory. Research results were subsequently shared with existing donors, who then funded 100% of the planned expansion.”
“Designed website and implemented social media strategy and tactics for eight-member startup in the energy industry.”
Admissions committees want to admit people who have interesting experience to share with classmates. Review the core and elective course offerings at the schools you are looking at, and think about how the work you have done on your own could allow you to contribute to class discussions. Take those examples that come to mind and present them in your resume, and possibly later on in more detail in essays.
This is the third blog post in our MBA Work Experience Series.
Jen Weld worked as an admissions consultant and Former Asst. Dir. of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program (4 years) prior to joining Accepted. She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing. Want Jen to help you get Accepted to business school? Click here to get in touch!