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A friend of mine started an initiative and applied to several foundations to get a grant. He needed me, being a copywriter, to write his website's copy and formulate a medium-term content strategy. He didn't have money at the time, but I gladly accepted because I could resonate with his initiative and because of our long friendship.

Our agreement is that I'll receive compensation as soon as he gets the required funds to kickstart operations officially. Until it happens, is it right to include the project as something serious I've built on my resume? And should I point out to interviewers that I did this project free of charge?

On average, it took me 30 hours per week, for three months, to develop the initiative’s voice and tone guidelines, craft the website copy, and design a glossary of terms to be used in future content.

Edit:

My question is different from another asking for advice in regards to traditional volunteerism. I'm expecting to receive compensation for my work; I just didn't sign paperwork or received a paycheck in the meantime.

marked as duplicate by gnat, carrdelling, scaaahu, Rory Alsop, Snow Apr 27 '18 at 9:00

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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A resume is a sales tool. It is not a record of the financial activity that resulted from your employment.

The thing you're selling is yourself. More specifically, your skills and the experiences through which you acquired them. When deciding what to include on your resume, you do want to be able to show your employment history and the projects you've worked on, but only as a means to an end (selling yourself). If a potential employer wants to validate the actual employment activities you listed, they'll do a background check.

So: don't focus on when or if you'll get paid when you're thinking about including this project. Instead, focus on:

  1. Does it help show the timeline of your overall employment/work history? Would there be a void for those three months otherwise?
  2. Does it emphasize your skills in a way that the rest of your employment history doesn't?
  3. Does it give you an opportunity to show the specific things you learned while doing that work?
  4. Does it give you a good storytelling opportunity during the interview process?

Let's look at your questions, specifically:

is it right to include the project as something serious I've built on my resume? And should I point out to interviewers that I did this project free of charge?

Is it right to include it? Assuming the answers to some or all of my questions above are "yes," then yes - include it.

Should you point out that it wasn't paid? Rephrase the question: does pointing that out have any advantage for you being able to sell yourself? Probably not. So, no, don't point that out.

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Until it happens, is it right to include the project as something serious I've built on my resume? And should I point out to interviewers that I did this project free of charge.

I couldn't say if it was right to include it (there may be all sorts of other reasons why you shouldn't include it - perhaps it might detract from other, better opportunities you could put on, it may not line up with work you're seeking, etc.) but it's certainly not wrong to include it for the sole reason that you're not yet paid.

The commercial / financial arrangements you had with the client are your responsibility / problem alone, and not something that should impede the project being listed on your resume. (So no, you shouldn't list that you did the project free of charge either.)

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