It seems like everyone has side hustles these days. Whether it’s to make extra money, pursue an interest or passion, or to learn a new skill, it’s work that we choose to do on the “side” of our day jobs. Yet few people think to include their side hustle on their resume. Working on your own doesn’t make it any less relevant than your other work experience because side hustles are work! Like any traditional job, they teach you valuable, transferable skills that employers are looking for – skills like time management, multi-tasking, and showing initiative. They also help to further develop your talents by putting them to use in tangible ways. Not including these skills, talents, and experiences on your resume could be a mistake that could cost you that new job you’re hoping to get.
What is the Purpose of a Resume?
That may seem like a silly question. Everyone knows that the purpose of a resume is to get a job, right? Yes, but also no. The goal of your resume is actually to get an interview. It’s a marketing tool used to capture the recruiter’s attention by showing how you, as a job-seeker, meet the qualifications and expectations of the specific position.
It’s your sales pitch to convince a potential new employer to invite you to an interview where they can get to know you better. However, most recruiters and hiring managers look at your resume for an average of only 6 seconds. If you want to get your resume past the 6-second glance test, it has to be easy to read, error-free, and clearly show how you are a strong candidate for the position. Strategically, including your side hustle on your resume can make a big difference.
How Does Your Side Hustle Make You a Better Candidate?
If you don’t take anything else away from this article, this is the most important thing to consider when it comes to including your side hustle on your resume. Your resume has to target the specific job or type of job for which you’re applying. That includes your work experience, your education, your skills, and anything extra – like side hustles and volunteering. Take some time and think about how your side hustle relates to the job vacancy.
- How does it make you a better candidate?
- Are there skills that you have developed or used in your side hustle that match the job?
- What can your side hustle add to your resume that isn’t already there?
- What do you want the recruiter to learn about you and your side hustle experience and accomplishments?
The purpose of side hustles is to make extra money, however, some side hustles are going to be more appropriate and professional to include on your resume than others. So while you’re learning something new each day no matter what your side gig, you have to be selective about what and how you include it on your resume. But there are numerous scenarios where it makes sense to include your side hustle, and there are a lot of different ways to do so.
How Should I Include a Side Hustle On My Resume?
I’m a firm believer that yes – your side hustles should be on your resume in some way. Finding a job is hard enough as it is. You want to highlight anything and everything that will give you an advantage over the other candidates. Your side hustle is an experience that teaches you. It can also enhance your skillset. You are gaining more than just some extra money from it. Use it as a way to show off your talents and skills.
The better question is how to include it on your resume. Because there isn’t one right way to do this, what works for one job application might not work for the next. In some cases, it makes sense to highlight everything you do at your side hustle. In other cases, it’s better to be selective and include only parts of it.
Here are some general guidelines to help you decide how and if to include your side hustle on your resume:
You Should Include Your Side Hustle On Your Resume If:
- It enhances your resume and makes you a stronger candidate
- It’s relevant to the type of job you are applying for
- It demonstrates your skillset
- It aligns with your career goals
- It’s professional
- You operate your side hustle like a business
- It helps “fill the gap” on your resume
- It will give an excellent first impression
- You have clients, customers or sales
- It shows you’ve worked with/for people or companies relevant to the industry
- You are proud of your side hustle
- You’re changing industries or transitioning into a new field that’s related to your side hustle
- You’re new to the working world or don’t have a lot of other work experience
- It is/was your part-time job while attending school
You Should NOT Include Your Side Hustle On Your Resume If:
- It’s irrelevant and has nothing to do with the job you’re applying for
- It’s something that could be considered controversial or inappropriate
- You are brand new to it and don’t yet have any clients, customers or sales
- It’s strictly a hobby
- You aren’t proud of what you do
- It could be seen as a conflict of interest
- It could put your current job at risk
The list is not definitive or exhaustive. Your side hustle might check every box on the “you should include it” list, but if it puts your current job at risk, leaving it off would be the better choice. (Although there are ways to include the skills you’ve gained from it.) Or if you’re an artist, for example, you might consider that to be just a hobby. Since you also don’t have any customers or sales for your artwork, you decide to leave it off your resume. But if you’re applying for a marketing job, including it will enhance your resume and make you a stronger candidate by showing your creative side. There are always exceptions and other things that you should take into account. Relevancy is a significant factor when it comes to whether you should list your side hustle on your resume or not. In addition to figuring out how to best include it, it’s essential to consider why (or why not) to include it.
Why You Should Include Your Side Hustle on Your Resume
Far too often, people assume that they can’t include their side hustle on their resume because it isn’t a “real” job. But it is! Your side hustle is no different than any other full-time, part-time, or temporary job just because you’re doing it on your own. Think about everything you are gaining from your side hustle. Even if you’re not making a lot (or any) money from it, it’s work experience. You wouldn’t think twice about including volunteer work or an unpaid internship on your resume, would you? The talent, time, and energy you put into your side hustle will matter – a lot. Including it on your resume shows more about who you are as a candidate and potential future employee.
Side Hustles Help You Stand Out
Your side hustle can help you stand out from the other candidates. (Especially if you do something unique.) It shows that you’ve taken the initiative to learn something new on your own, that you’ve worked hard to launch your own small business and are up to the challenge of creating and executing new ideas. It shows what you are interested in, passionate about, and who you are outside of your day job.
Often your side hustle will be complementary to your day job. It can provide you with new perspectives and opinions that can help you relate to or bond with your coworkers and clients better. It can help you network and make meaningful connections. And it can also help you come up with new ideas or ways to improve systems or products that are already in place. Having a side hustle that’s related to your career goals (even in a broad sense) also shows that you are committed and invested in your career. It shows that you are so passionate and interested in the field that you spend your own free time working on it.
If you are hoping to change industries or transition into a new field, highlighting your related side hustle experience on your resume will show that you are a viable candidate and that you have knowledge of the industry. Your side hustle is giving you tangible, hands-on experience. It’s one thing to say you’re a passionate and driven person, but it’s a lot better if you can show it through your efforts. Side hustles are perfect for that!
Why You Should NOT Include Your Side Hustle on Your Resume
Sometimes including your side hustle on your resume could do you more harm than good. If you are concerned that including it is going to raise any red flags or create more questions than it answers, it’s best to leave it off. Just as there are valid reasons to include your side hustle on your resume, there are legitimate reasons why you might choose not to.
It Isn’t Relevant
Some side hustles will not enhance your application or your chances of landing an interview. Answering surveys, for example, is an easy way to make extra money on the side, but it probably won’t add anything relevant to your resume. (Although, arguably, it could be if you are applying for a job that involves data entry or creating surveys.)
It Looks Negative
Unfortunately, freelance work, side hustles, and gig jobs can sometimes have a negative connotation. Some people will question the legitimacy of your side hustle, especially if it looks like you include it for the sole purpose of hiding stretches of unemployment on your resume. It might give the impression that you are unskilled, unmotivated, and unable to find a traditional job, which is not at all the image you want to portray!
It’s Confidential Work
You need to abide by any confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement that you signed, which might mean you’re not allowed to include this experience or project on your resume. You could always ask, though. Your client might be okay with you sharing these details after the project is completed or allow you to share certain aspects of it.
It Overloads Your Resume
You don’t have to include every single thing you’ve done on your resume. Sometimes, less is more. No one wants to read a 5-page resume when 1 page would suffice. So if including your side hustle doesn’t add anything more to the experience and skills you’ve already included, there’s no need to squeeze it in. For example, if you are an administrative professional who is applying for administrative jobs, but you also babysit for your neighbor on the weekend to make a little extra money, including this probably isn’t going to enhance your resume. It’s just going to take up valuable space and bury the critical details.
It Doesn’t Look Like a “Side” Hustle
Sometimes you can be so passionate and committed to your side hustle that it sounds like it’s your main hustle or main priority. Or maybe it’s so successful that people can’t believe it isn’t already your full-time job. Employers don’t want to have to worry that you’ll be spending company time or using company resources working on your projects. Don’t put any doubt in the employer’s mind! I don’t like to tell anyone to downplay their hard work or success, but in a case like this, you need to find the right balance. If you are planning to take the leap and turn it into a full-time job in the future, be careful not to imply or mention that either.
Use Common Sense
You’ll also want to use your common sense. For example, if you signed up to be a dog walker on Rover last week and have yet to have any customers, it’s too soon to put it on your resume. A lot of advice on this topic also suggests that you should never include side hustles like driving for Uber or Lyft on your resume. But there are absolutely times where you should be! Like if you are applying for a driving job. Obviously. Or if this was your part-time job while you attended school full-time. Not to mention, there is a lot more to being an Uber driver than just driving. There’s customer service, bookkeeping, marketing, maintenance, problem-solving, unlicensed counseling (probably), and everything else being your won boss entails. These are all transferable skills that you should include on your resume in some way. That brings me to my next point.
What Skills Have You Gained From Your Side Hustle?
I’ve mentioned skills numerous times, and for a good reason. You have diverse skills. You are utilizing your talents and building them with every sale you make, every client you book, project you complete, or hustle you do. Everything from tutoring to professional cuddling will strengthen your transferable skills. Skills that the majority of employers are looking for in a candidate. Therefore, your strongest and most relevant ones should be on your resume. Here are some ideas of what those skills may include:
- Communication and listening
- Interpersonal skills (empathy, respect, patience)
- Time management, meeting deadlines
- Organization and planning
- Customer service
- Clerical and administrative
- Research and analysis
- Problem solving and troubleshooting
- Critical thinking
- Computer and technical skills
- Numeracy (accounting, budgeting, bookkeeping, calculating)
- Creativity and creative thinking
- Attention to detail
- Willingness to learn
- Marketing (social media marketing, digital marketing, branding, SEO)
- Website maintenance or development
- Contract negotiations
- Payroll, invoicing, bookkeeping
- Sales and pricing
- Technical skills (programs, software, hardware, tools)
- Mechanical skills (electrical, plumbing, machinery, licenses)
- Physical abilities
- Shipping and logistics
There are hundreds of skills that you might use while side hustling. Take some time and write them down, focusing on the ones you use the most. For each job application, look at what skills they require in the job ad and compare them to your list of skills. Are there any matches between the two? Are these skills already included in your resume? If not, tweak your resume so that you include them in some way. You can do this in any section of your resume, but there tends to be more flexibility to do so within your side hustle experience. Whatever skills you decide to include, make sure they are legitimate. Be prepared to explain and demonstrate how you’ve learned and used these skills. Include actual data, figures, and measurable results whenever you can to further support this. That could include your customer satisfaction ratings, number of page views, social media followers, or amount of sales or clients.
How To List Your Side Hustle on Your Resume
We’ve established what the purpose of a resume is. We’ve explored the reasons why you should or shouldn’t include your side hustle on your resume. And we’ve talked about what skills you’ve gained from it. Now we’re going to cover how to list it. Because when it comes to side hustles, the “how” really matters. Although they are growing in popularity, there are still people out there that consider side hustles and freelance jobs to be fluff work. You want to avoid giving that impression. If you haven’t already done so, think carefully about what professional and relevant skills your side hustle have taught you and how it matches the skills that the new job you’re applying for requires. Doing this will help you determine how to include this experience best. There are four main ways to include your side hustle on your resume:
- Include your side hustle like any other job
- Include your side hustle in a separate section
- Use a functional or combination resume format
- Only include the skills you’ve learned from your side hustle
1. Include Your Side Hustle Like Any Other Job
The first option is to add your side hustle like you would any other job on your resume. List your title, the company you work for, dates of employment, and a few bullet points outlining your job duties and accomplishments. (There is more information on how to do each of these in the next section).
For example: Online Retail Shop Owner – XYZ Printables (June 2015 – Present)
- Operating and maintaining an online Esty shop selling over 50 unique printable charts, planners and customized artwork
- Successfully developing social media campaigns advertising the shop and products over Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, effectively gaining over 25,000 followers
- Increased sales and revenue by 27% in the last fiscal year by optimizing search listings and ranking #1 for three main keywords
This approach works best when your side hustle is highly relevant to the job vacancy. You have great statistics and data to support the work you’ve done, it aligns with your career goals, or it helps you stand out as a strong candidate.
2. Include Your Side Hustle in a Separate Section
If you are concerned about misrepresenting yourself, you could title the main employment history section of your resume, “Relevant Experience,” “Professional Experience,” or only “Experience.” It’s one of the best ways to include anything from your background that doesn’t fall under the more traditional “Work Experience” or “Work History” – including volunteering, internships, placements, and side hustles. Alternatively, you could create a new standalone section that’s separate from your main employment history. That way, it’s clear that this experience is unique. You can call this new section whichever variation of the following fits best:
- Professional Accomplishments
- Additional Experience
- Freelance Work
- Consulting History
- Relevant Projects
- External Projects
The important thing is to keep it simple and easy for a recruiter to understand what’s distinct about this resume section.
3. Use a Functional or Combination Resume Format
The most common resume format is a chronological one. It lists your work history in a reverse timeline (newest to oldest) and includes a few bullet points elaborating on the responsibilities of the role and any achievements earned. This format might not be the best way to present your side hustle, though. A functional or combination resume might work better.
A functional resume focuses on your skills, accomplishments, and capabilities while deemphasizing your work history. Use a functional resume when you are entering the workforce for the first time, changing industries, have gaps in your work history, or when you have a lot of skills but not a lot of relevant experience. (All of which are also good reasons to include your side hustle on your resume.) With a functional resume, you list your primary skills under separate headings, such as “communication skills,” “customer service skills,” or “administrative skills.” Beneath each heading, elaborate by including a few bullet point examples that show how you have developed and applied that skill. These items will make up the majority of your resume.
Where to Put Your Work History
You will include your work history, but it appears at the bottom of your resume and is brief. Most of the time, it’s a simple list of your previous job titles, companies worked for, and dates. That’s it. There is no need to include bullet points under each position, as you’ve already covered this under your specific skill sections. People have mixed feelings about functional resumes. They don’t make any reference to where your skills or achievements were developed or in what context. With a resume, you want to spell it out for the recruiter as best as you can, but functional resumes can sometimes lead to more questions than answers. They aren’t always compatible with the requirements of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), either. Many employers will use an ATS to scan and screen applicants rather than have a person do it. Some systems aren’t able to read functional resumes properly, which can result in your application appearing to be full of errors or incomplete.
Another possibly better option is to use a combination resume. As the name suggests, this format is a combination of a chronological and functional resume. List the relevant skills and qualifications you want to highlight first (like in a functional resume), followed by your employment history (like in a chronological resume). It emphasizes your skills and achievements over your work history but also shows the details of your background that most people expect to find on a resume. Combination resumes are particularly useful when your work experience is only somewhat related to the job you’re applying for. Hence, including your side hustle experience and skills can help showcase that you have these transferable skills, but also have a stable work history.
4. Only Include The Skills You’ve Learned from Your Side Hustle
If you decide not to include your side hustle on your resume, you should still include the relevant or highly transferable skills you’ve gained from it in some way. It might be as simple as including it in a single bullet point, such as the following:
- Four years of experience using Instagram and Pinterest to sell customized printables on Etsy
- Exceptional knowledge of photo editing software including Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop
Both of these examples are short and sweet but can suggest a lot. The first shows that you’ve operated your online store for years, you have creative design skills, and you are knowledgeable in sales, social media, and digital marketing. The second also shows that you have a creative side and have technical expertise with specific, in-demand programs.
What Information Do I Include?
Side hustles are still relatively new and can be very diverse. Not every recruiter or hiring manager is going to understand what they are and what they entail. It’s essential to be clear with how you word and represent what your side hustle is and what you do. You want to spell it out for the person reading your resume. Connect the dots for them. Use their wording from the job description. Make it blatantly obvious how you meet the qualifications they are looking for. Use your cover letter to further elaborate on your side hustle, if needed. Unlike traditional jobs, your side hustle probably doesn’t come with a job description or an official title. There is a lot more flexibility in what you can call yourself and what duties and accomplishments you want to include. You can work this to your advantage. Tailor your job title and job duties so that they are relevant to the type of job for which you’re applying. But this can also be a disadvantage, as it can be easy to overthink and overcomplicate things.
What Job Title Should I Use?
There are many different job titles that you can use to describe what you do in your side hustle. If you run your own small business, then you can technically call yourself Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and whatever other Chief Officer you want. But does that best reflect and represent what you do? Does that help the recruiter understand your role? Probably not. (But if it does, way to go!!! Maybe it’s time to turn your side hustle into your main hustle?)
You want to use an easy to understand, and realistic job title that describes the work you do. Your resume is not the right place to give yourself a fancy or over the top title. Using one could cost you that interview, especially if there is an applicant tracking system (ATS) being used to screen applications. These systems are looking for keywords. It won’t understand that “Nutritional Transportation Captain” really means you deliver food for UberEats, DoorDash, or Skip the Dishes. People might not make that connection either. Keep it simple! In this case, call yourself a Delivery Driver or a Food Courier.
Does Your Title Reflect Your Skills?
If your side hustle encompasses a lot of different tasks, choosing the best job title might not be as straightforward. You want to pick something that reflects your actual skills and experience but is also relevant to the job for which you’re applying. For example, as a blogger or freelance writer, you likely use social media to promote your posts and articles. If you were applying for a job as a Social Media Manager, it could be very tempting to call yourself a “Director of Social Media.” Surely you’ll get an interview that way. But giving yourself that title would be a stretch if all you’re doing is loading a few Tweets and Pins into programs like Hootsuite and Tailwind. You’re better off choosing a more appropriate title, such as Blogger or Freelance Writer, and including your social media knowledge in your duties or skills section. When it doubt, it’s perfectly acceptable to take your niche or main side hustle task and add a descriptor to it. For example:
- [SEO] Consultant
- Independent [Online Sales] Contractor
- Self-employed [Caterer]
- [Beauty] Advisor
- Contract [Bookkeeper]
- [Personal Finance] Content Creator
- Freelance [Writer]
- [Fitness] Coach
- [English] Teacher or Tutor
- [Social Media] Director or Manager
- [Logo] Designer
- [Email Marketing] Assistant
- [Etsy Shop] Owner
- [Website] Founder
- [Landscaping] Professional
What Company Name Should I Use?
You don’t necessarily have to include a company name for your side hustle, but you might want to. It can give the recruiter more context and can keep your resume looking consistent. You may already have a company name that’s suitable to use. It might be the title of your website or the name of your online store, for example. If you use an app or platform such as Fiverr, Instacart, or Airbnb to find your side hustle jobs, you could use that as the company name. Self-employed people traditionally create their company name to use. In general, you are allowed to operate a sole proprietorship without officially having to register a business name. The government will consider your business to be an extension of yourself – meaning you are personally liable and are responsible for paying any applicable taxes. (Yes – you have to pay taxes on your side hustle income!) So you can unofficially call your side hustle company whatever you want, as long as you use the correct, official name on your taxes and any legal documentation. (This aspect of side hustling can be somewhat confusing, and differs by country and by state or province. If you have questions, it’s best to contact your local city clerk’s office, small business center, or government agencies for guidance.) If none of these apply, you have a few options, such as:
- Various Clients
- Clients include XYZ Foundation, Bob’s Money Site, and Jane’s Pie Shop
- Your Name + Keyword (e.g., “John Doe Publishing” or “Mary Smith Photography”)
What Duties Should I Include?
You can easily get carried away with all the things we do as side hustlers. But remember, this is a summary. You want to be concise and ensure your resume highlights your best and most relevant strengths and accomplishments in a few bullet points. Follow the same format you have for your other work experience. Start with an active action verb and explain the type of work you do. Use numbers, dollar amounts, and percentages to quantify your success where you can. Have you built a loyal, repeat customer base or worked with relevant, recognizable clients or brands? Include that. Mention any notable projects you’ve completed or contributed to that highlight your skills. Don’t forget about any significant accomplishments or recognition you’ve received, such as 5-star customer reviews. Whatever you decide to include, be honest, and don’t misrepresent yourself.
The goal of your resume is to show how you would be an asset to the company. You’re not going to land the job otherwise successfully. When you scrutinize everything that side hustling entails, it quickly becomes clear as to why you should include it on your resume. It will enhance your candidacy, help you stand out amongst the other applicants, and hopefully land you an excellent new job!
This article originally appeared on The Money Mix and has been republished with permission.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the “person” in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and more. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations – including a free library of career & job search resources.