Should you share your side hustle on your CV?

Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH, a passion and career coaching service, and is a certified transformational coach. In this exclusive feature, Lori offers her essential advice for what you should share on your resume…

As a career coach I often get asked the question, ‘Should I put my side hustle on my resume?’ This question comes from a variety of clients. Sometimes it’s from clients who still have plans to turn their side hustle into a full-time gig, but in the meantime need to find employment to help fund that dream. Sometimes it’s from clients who started their side hustle to keep them afloat during a layoff or temporary time of unemployment. Sometimes it’s from clients who have their side hustle strictly as a hobby or a passion. 

Is it still relevant?

Is your side hustle relevant to the job for which you’re applying? Or is it relevant to the skills needed for the job for which you’re applying? Is it relevant to show you have the ‘soft skills’ employers now seek? (I.e. curiosity, the ability to learn, the ability to take initiative etc.). Finally, is it relevant to help you land your next client?

How your side hustle makes you marketable

In today’s job market, side hustles are no longer seen just as employment gap fillers. Indeed, in an article in Fast Company magazine, the CEO of Quizlet Matt Glotzbach says that by discussing your side hustle and other self-driven learning projects in an interview, you’ll show employers your ability to understand today’s technology and to learn new skills and subjects – and this is what employers are currently looking for! 

So if it’s important to discuss this type of work experience in the interview, why wouldn’t you include it on your resume? Especially if it’s relevant to the job or it demonstrates your transferable skills.


How to market your side hustle on your resume

Unfortunately, a lot of people miss this opportunity – that’s because they think a resume should still look the way it did when they conducted their first job search 20 years ago. They assume they can only include their full-time paid work under the ‘Experience’ section of their resume. This simply is not true. If you created a side hustle for whatever reason, you can include it under the ‘Experience’ section of your CV as well. Even if your side hustle hasn’t earned you a lot of money, you’ll want to include it for the new skills you’ve gained from it!

Don’t worry so much about how much money you’ve made. Instead focus on what you’ve accomplished in that time. This includes:

  • The skills you’ve gained
  • The software programs and platforms you’ve learned
  • How you’ve been able to build relationships with strategic partners
  • The number of clients or customers you’ve gained in a short period
  • The things your customers have recognised you for 
  • Customer satisfaction feedback
  • Any funding you’ve been able to run

The same thing goes for volunteering work. If you’ve volunteered your talents to a cause that’s near and dear to you AND you’ve learned a new skill while doing so, you can still include this under your ‘Experience’ section with the job title of ‘Volunteer’ (or whatever official title the company gives to their volunteers). 

Connecting the dots

Including such experience on your resume, however, does require you sometimes to connect the dots for the reader. While it may be obvious to you how your skills transfer to the job in hand, it may not be so obvious to the reader of your resume. Therefore, you need to make sure your wording is clear about how your skills transfer over to the job. One way to do this is to use some of the same language as the job ad. 


Practice connecting the dots

For example, I like to challenge my own resume writing skills. I take a job ad I see posted and write a resume that includes my own experience as an entrepreneur. I include how the skills I’ve gained from that and other experiences are relevant to the job. This sharpens my writing skills by helping me put myself in the reader’s shoes. Also, it sharpens my skills in helping my clients do the same thing with their own resume. 

In fact, just recently I saw a job ad for an E-Commerce Lead Generation Specialist with a stand up paddle board manufacturer. Many of the sales and marketing skills required for this job are the ones I’ve learned from marketing my own career coaching services.

My past speaking engagements also meet their requirements for someone with public speaking experience. And the fact that I have my own business meets their need for someone who’s a self-starter. 

Not only that, my passion for stand up paddling and my previous side hustle of teaching beginner stand up paddle boarding lessons helps me understand the needs and desires of their target market. This also shows I’m immersed in the lifestyle their company promotes. 

I simply rewrote my resume to address the top concerns listed in the job ad. Then I used similar language from the job ad to show how my experience is a good fit for this specific position. 

It’s a good thing to practice even when you’re not looking for a job. By doing this simple exercise it will teach you how to write better marketing copy to your unique audience, no matter what kind of work you do. 

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