LinkedIn is a great networking tool for freelancers and job seekers — if you know how to leverage it. And while you could just copy the information from your resume and call it a day, there’s so much more you can do with LinkedIn if you know how.
How to list freelance work on LinkedIn: A step by step guide
- At the top of the LinkedIn homepage, click the “Me” icon.
- Select “View Profile” from the drop-down list.
- Scroll down to the Experience section and click the “+” button.
- Enter your job title.
- Select “Freelance” from the Employment Type drop-down menu.
- Enter the name of your company or the client you worked for.
- Add additional information (including major accomplishments).
- Click “Save.”
Optimizing freelance work on your LinkedIn profile
Once you've added your freelance work to your LinkedIn profile, here's how to make it stand out, whether you're looking to land more clients or make the jump to full-time work.
Include keywords in your headline
Optimizing keywords is one of the best ways to boost your profile’s visibility. The right keywords can help you rank on LinkedIn and make your profile easier to find for recruiters looking for people with specific background or experience. Here’s how to do it:
Use keywords in your LinkedIn headline by including specific skills. For example:
- Don’t: Freelance graphic designer
- Do: Freelance graphic designer (digital design, web design, UX design)
Here's another example:
- Don’t: Social media strategist
- Do: Social media and content marketing strategist specializing in press releases, blog content, and SEO optimization
Use the tool below to find relevant skills and keywords to include in your LinkedIn headline to make your profile easier to find by recruiters and hiring managers.
Upload work samples
The best way to prove your mettle is by letting recruiters see your work for themselves. Use LinkedIn’s "Featured" section to link directly to some of your best work or upload a portfolio of select samples. You can also link directly to work samples in your "About" section.
Write a detailed summary
Your LinkedIn summary section can be up to 2000 characters long, so use it! Describe the context of your work and highlight your most impressive clients, projects, and accomplishments. Exercise professional judgment when deciding what to list — big-name clients and quantifiable achievements are a yes, but alluding to confidential information (including proprietary or non-public information, or anything covered by an NDA) is a no.
Consolidate your experience
If you’ve worked on multiple projects, create your own freelance company name and group your freelance work underneath it. This avoids cluttering up your profile with multiple smaller entries and allows you to highlight your most impressive achievements in one spot. Underneath the company name, highlight a few major projects and include 1-3 bullet points that show real accomplishments.
List your clients
If you’ve worked with a smaller number of clients long-term, you can list those clients in the employer section instead. This can have some benefits — namely, it gives recruiters context for your work and reassurance that your work was legitimate, especially if you’ve worked for well-known clients.
Remember to make it clear that this was freelance work rather than employment by choosing the ‘freelance’ option in the work type menu. If you imply that you were directly employed by a company (deliberately or not), it may come out in a routine background check and may disqualify you.
Add client testimonials
LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to add client testimonials in your “About” section. Reach out to current or past clients for references, especially if you’ve been freelancing for a while and your more traditional references may be outdated. You can make this easier for clients by telling them what you’d like them to talk about, or even including a pre-written testimonial for their approval. (Some clients may prefer to write their own, but others will love that it saves them time.) Skip the skill endorsements — most recruiters don’t put much stock in these, which makes direct references far more valuable.
Get a free review
Check your LinkedIn profile using LinkedIn Review. This free tool can analyze your profile and provide specific suggestions for optimizing your LinkedIn and boosting your visibility.
How to find freelance work on LinkedIn
Whether you've been freelancing for a while or you're just starting out, LinkedIn is an ideal place to land your next client. Here's how to use the platform to your advantage.
Use the "open to work" function
Indicate that you’re open to work in your LinkedIn headline or profile. Use phrases like “open to opportunities” or “seeking full-time work” in your headline or use the “Open to …” function built into your LinkedIn profile.
This works well for people seeking freelance clients or if you're currently unemployed and looking for full-time work.
There are a number of ways you can network on LinkedIn:
- Join LinkedIn Groups aimed at freelancers. Look for groups that cater specifically to your niche or location, for example, freelance photographers in the Tri-state area.
- Advertise your work on LinkedIn Marketplace.
- Connect with clients you'd like to work with. If they're currently expanding, you can even use LinkedIn messages to send a pitch.
- Ask people already in your network for referrals or informational interviews.
Build your brand
For even more visibility, you can use LinkedIn to post content directly. Write blog posts about your industry, share insights, post updates about what you’re working on, and engage with other professionals in the field or with current or potential clients. Like anything else, you get out of LinkedIn what you put into it — even a little bit of effort can go a long way.
LinkedIn isn't just a valuable professional social media network — it's also one of the largest job boards out there. Search directly for the kind of work you're looking for by typing keywords directly into the search bar and using the "Content" option to filter your results.
Why list freelance work on LinkedIn?
If you’re looking for a job
Transitioning to regular employment after freelancing can be tricky. While some hiring managers still don’t fully understand freelance work, most just want to know that it was legitimate employment and not just a side hobby or one-off project. By updating your LinkedIn profile, you can parlay your freelance experience into your job search, allowing you to network, job search, and pass the pre-employment applicant screening process with flying colors.
If you’re currently freelancing
LinkedIn isn’t just to job seekers — it’s also a valuable resource for freelancers. You can use LinkedIn to improve your inbound and outbound marketing by reaching out directly to potential clients, posting content, networking with other freelance professionals, and building a brand across multiple platforms.
If you’re changing careers
If you're changing careers into a new field, freelance work is a smart way to get new professional skills that are relevant so that you can include them in your LinkedIn profile. Including evidence of new skills in your profile means that your profile will show up more often in search results to recruiters who are searching for relevant candidates on LinkedIn.