From self-employed to employed: How to update your CV

CV expert Emma Alkirwi gives some sound advice on how to update your CV if you are moving from self-employed work to employment.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) on laptop


Self-employment figures have been growing over the last number of years. Self-employed people now make up 13% of the total workforce in the UK.

There are lots of reasons why you might have decided to take the plunge and become self-employed. Running your own business allows you to work flexibly in a way that fits your family commitments. You have control over your schedule, can build relationships, and most importantly, follow your passion.

But sometimes being self-employed just isn’t the right fit any more. Plans and priorities change, and you may decide that you want to move back into a more collaborative team environment or attain a fixed and stable income again.

If you are in a position where you are ready to go back to full-time employment after a period of going it alone, you might not be sure how to demonstrate your experience and skills on your CV.
So what should you do?

What’s in a title?

As with full-time positions, you need to give yourself a job title that explains what you did while you
were self-employed. Take a look at the kind of work you took on – could ‘Consultant’ or ‘Contractor’
be a good fit?

If you tended to work for clients on a less formal or regular basis, perhaps the word ‘Freelancer’ is
what would sum you up best. We would also recommend including the name of your company, just as you would name your previous employers.

Explain your change in direction

Just because your business isn’t the right fit any more, that doesn’t mean it is or was a failure. But there is no doubt that regardless of your reasons, moving from being self-employed to searching for a full-time role is a big change. Naturally, employers will want to know why you are interested in
working for them after a period of working for yourself.

You don’t need to give a large amount of detail or personal information away – focus on the future,
rather than the past. Give a little explanation for why you have decided to change direction and then
focus on what you want from your new role, and the amazing experience you can bring to a company.

Highlight your transferable skills

When you are self-employed, you have a lot to juggle at once. As a result, you pick up a lot of qualities that are very attractive to employers. To run your own business, you will have to have been self-motivated, highly organised, proactive and able to overcome obstacles. Make sure these qualities are highlighted in the ‘Skills’ section of your CV.

Look back on your achievements

Being fully responsible for yourself means you take on a lot of tasks that would normally be delegated across a business. This helps to give you a differentiator from someone who has traditionally stuck to one kind of role or skill set throughout their career.

Alongside the specific services you offered your clients, here is some of the other experience you will
likely have picked up in the process of being self-employed:

– Managing a team
– Running your social media
– Hitting financial targets
– Client relationship management

Think about any significant events you have been involved in, awards you have won and any work you have had published in prestigious publications.

Pick the most relevant experience to the kind of role you are interested in and include tangible
examples to show the success you had in each area – facts and figures are particularly effective. This
is not dissimilar to what you would do talking about a full-time employed position you held in the

You should also highlight any big names or key players in your industry and the work you did for

Demonstrate you are a team player

One thing we would recommend you focus on is any teamwork experience that you had while self-employed.

Recruiters could falsely believe that you might be difficult to manage because you had so much autonomy running your own business. Dispel this fear by positively highlighting how you collaborated with others.

You have so much to offer employers! All you need to focus on is getting your amazing experience
and skillset across in the most engaging way.


While full details of references should not be included in a CV it is worth having a think about what
these would be should you be asked. If you have been self-employed for a while, a previous employer’s reference is probably too out-of-date, plus, you will have picked up so many other skills since you worked for them!

So when you need to provide references whether this is in an application or upon offer of employment, we recommend using a long-standing client, business partner or collaborator. This is because they will have much more recent experience of working with you, which will be more relevant to employers.

Just make sure you let them know before you note their details – nobody likes an unsolicited phone
call or email.

We hope you have found this blog about how to update your CV when moving from self-employed to employed helpful. Ultimately – regardless of your reasons for making a change – you have learned so much from your
time running your own business. You have a lot to offer any prospective employer and so many of
your skills are transferable to the workplace. You just need to feel confident in highlighting all of the
attributes you have to offer, and how helpful they will be for a business.

*Emma Alkirwi is the Managing Director of the CV Guru which is the leading service provider of professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, cover letters in the UK and they also provide specialist consultancy services. If you feel like you need some help getting your value across – or if the thought of majorly updating your CV is overwhelming – CV Guru can help. Its CV Writing Services will give you the confidence that your documents are selling your experience in the right way, making the transition into full-time employment as seamless as possible. Plus, CV Guru offers unlimited amends, so you can feedback to them as much as you like until everything is perfect.

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