ResumeFilter: Freelance "Gap"
July 13, 2005 3:05 PM   Subscribe

ResumeFilter: Applying to a Fortune 500 company. How do I show the last two years of freelance experience without coming off as a maverick? [MI]

I have held jobs in corporate settings (IT at Ford) as well as a couple of small businesses. But for the last two years or so, I have kept things together by working as a computer lab assistant at my alma mater (very little responsibility beyond basic printing, etc. support) and taking up freelance jobs (developing web sites, ecommerce, network support, etc.). I ended up incorporating, mainly for tax write-off purposes.

While it is not crucial I include these, the “lab assistant” entry spanning the last two years seems weak alone. What might be the best way write up the last two years on a resume for a Fortune 500 company? I want to mention skills I have used, but I do not want to come off as a sort of maverick, especially the “starting my own company” part.
posted by parma to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could make a case for leaving "lab assistant" off the resume altogether, calling yourself a "consultant," and focusing on the freelance jobs themselves.

I could be wrong, but nothing about what you've done is "maverick." Leave out the bit about incorporating. No one will care.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:09 PM on July 13, 2005

What about something along the lines of "freelance consultant"? If you freelanced for any good names, include them, as it would show that you're comfortable in a corporate environment. (Which is why I assume you don't want to tout your independence?)
posted by trevyn at 3:10 PM on July 13, 2005

I would say freelance or consultant, not both. I agree that nothing you describes sounds maverick, but I disagree about incorporation. You showed initiative in going freelance, and you showed business sense by forming a formal business entity.

In your position, I would sell myself as a person with proven big-company experience who is also a self-starter that 'gets' being a going concern in the real world - someone poised to bring fresh energy while fitting into a company's culture.
posted by caitlinb at 3:25 PM on July 13, 2005

Dude! You don't want to be a "maverick"? How about "motivated self-starter"? How about making a point of the fact that you lived on your own resourcefulness for 2 years outside of a structured environment? Brought order and discipline to the chaos and slack that is ordinary daily life outside a corporation?

Unless you're applying for a janitorial position or something, most companies WANT these kinds of attributes in their new hires, especially if you're entering a position where they might be grooming you for management or at least some kind of future tech lead position (and if they're not, what exactly do you see in them?)

I think you're making WAY too much of your differences from corporate America and not nearly enough of your positive attributes for that field. Maybe in your head you felt, over the last 2 years, some "screw the man, I'm never going corporate, I'm doing it my own way" kind of thoughts, but there's no need at all to come across like this in an interview, and anyway, F500 companies don't like to think of themselves as stodgy, fuddy-duddy places where serious people go when they're ready to stop having fun. Be dynamic, be interested, show how organized and motivated you became after starting your own LLC or whatever, and you'll be fine.
posted by rkent at 3:58 PM on July 13, 2005

Whatever you do, you should definitely NOT leave your freelance work off your resume. You're right, the lab work alone will look weak, and why not take credit for the work you've done? I don't think freelancing is "mavrick", especially since it wasn't your only source of income. It shows initiative, responsibility, and leadership - all great qualities!

FWIW, we recently interviewed to fill a position where I work. I know of at least one candidate that was eliminated because he seemed to have a large gap in his employment history. Turns out he had been freelancing, but didn't think he should put it on his resume.
posted by geeky at 4:08 PM on July 13, 2005

Eh, your job is consultant. You had various clients. It doesn't matter how small-time your operation was, it's a real job and you should put it down there with pride.
posted by inksyndicate at 4:41 PM on July 13, 2005

No problem. The company you worked for is "[Your Name] Technology Solutions". Then, you just have a "Clients include:" with some bullet points. No lying or half-truths needed.
posted by mkultra at 5:06 PM on July 13, 2005

If I were reading your resume, the part about incorporating for tax purposes would pique my interest. Sell it, don't hide it.
During graduate school, monitored student labs; started my own company serving technology needs.
Only write it way better. You have some attributes of an entrepreneur and you'll likely be happiest in a company that values those traits. If they have any smarts at all, they'll love it. On preview, what everybody else said.
posted by theora55 at 6:43 PM on July 13, 2005

Yeah -- do it the mkultra way. Keep it simple.

As an aside... if you've been developing sites, put them on your resume! I hire IT people from time to time and I'm always surprised at how few of them actually include URL's of what they've been doing.
posted by ph00dz at 4:55 AM on July 14, 2005

ph00dz writes "I hire IT people from time to time and I'm always surprised at how few of them actually include URL's of what they've been doing."

There is a risk that between the time you submit your resume and the hiring process sees the site of the pages have been redone or even hijacked. Or the owners could let the domain lapse and a squatter has picked it up. Unless I was actively maintaining the site I wouldn't put it on my resume.
posted by Mitheral at 8:36 AM on July 14, 2005

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