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How to Apply for Online Jobs: Tips on Getting Hired for Jobs Online

Updated on September 5, 2009

Making money from the internet, is a real thing, it is not a fallacy, nor is it an urban legend. There are many ways to earn online and one of them is to be a freelance provider or a freelancer. A freelancer is defined by Wikipedia as “a self-employed person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any particular employer” and in the online world, being a freelancer can range from performing very petty tasks for online employers to the very complicated. There are online jobs that require general administrative skills while there are others that require highly specialized skills such as Ruby Rails expertise. The pay and rate is, of course, commensurate to the level of skills needed. A Ruby Rails expert and other web developers and programmers can command as much as $50/hour or more, while a virtual assistant are on the single-digit to $10+ per hour rate.

The good thing about online jobs is that there are limitless possibilities, and you can apply for online jobs that match your skills, even if you have no formal education for it. This is the big difference between traditional employment and online employment. Online employers don’t usually require that you have a degree or a certificate in what you are applying for. This can either work for or against you if you are a freelance provider so you should take extra care in applying for online jobs.

Here are some tips to help you increase your chances of getting hired for online jobs. Since I work as a freelance writer mostly at oDesk, these are best practices I gathered through my stint at oDesk. But the tips and lessons will be applicable for other online job applications.

1. Be very choosy in applying for online jobs. Choose only those that you are well qualified for.

When looking at job postings, you might be inclined to apply for those that pay well, or those that require very little output. However, you should only look first at the job requirements, then the amount of the contract. I cannot stress this enough, but you need to be very brutal in assessing your capabilities. Remember that getting hired is only a tiny step towards making money online, and the most important thing is that you deliver the required output well, and do not disappoint your client.

Check all the qualifications specified by your potential employer. If they specify native English speakers, then make sure that you are one. Sometimes, online buyers will specify places of residence or location. This is perfectly normal, since they might want someone in their same time zone, or perhaps their company restricts them from hiring someone outside the country.

A good application letter should contain the following:

  • A warm, professional greeting and a nice goodbye note.
  • Your full contact information, including your time zone and the time you are online (in case the buyer want to talk to you online)
  • A comprehensive description of your qualifications. Remember that the buyer will not take your word for it, you need to cite some credentials.
  • A good description of your bid.
  • Any other specifics described by the buyer such as samples, trial articles, keywords (some buyers require that you include a certain word in the application letter).

2. Create a customized application letter. Do not be lazy and recycle old application letters.

Some marketplaces like allow you to save a cover/application letter which you can use for all your online job applications again and again and again.

However, there are several unpleasant consequences of recycling an application letter.

  • First, it may not be suitable to the job you are applying for.
  • Second, a client would know if your letter is recycled and might form a rather bad impression of you. She might make the conclusion that you are lazy, and rightly so. If you are too lazy to come up with an original, customized letter for a job application, then you might be too lazy to exert your best for the job at hand.

Think of creating an original application letter as a love letter or a love note. Would you recycle them?

3. Follow the client’s instructions very well.

If the client asks for a sample of your work, then attach a sample of your work. Do not simply point them to your blog or to the website you have written for. Remember that buyers are not interested in you alone, and that there are dozens more clamoring for her attention. She would not spend an extra second to someone who cannot even follow a simple instruction.

4. Give realistic targets to your clients and to yourself.

Deadlines are of utmost importance in the online business. When your client gives a deadline and you agree to it, remember that your client has placed her trust in you and your word. Each time you promise to deliver something, your reputation as a freelance worker is at risk and you better deliver. So, to avoid being in a predicament where your client doubts you and gives you a negative feedback, give only targets that are really doable. If your client is imposing a very difficult deadline, you might try reasoning with her and compromising. If you cannot come to a deal, politely ask to be let go and give reasons why you cannot beat her desired deadline. Tell her that you would love to do business in the future, if that will be possible, and thank her for the opportunity she has given you (albeit ended prematurely).

5. Ask for rates that are appropriate.

You need to have a sort of “tariff table” for your services. I would suggest that you come up with your own, particularly when you are just starting. Do not base your rates on other freelance writers or providers, because you may have different skills, experiences, and most importantly, portfolio. A newbie can command a high rate at par with other freelancers who have been doing the same work for a long time if their quality of work is comparable. This also goes the other way – you might still be unable to ask for a high price even if you are working as a freelancer for a long time, if you have not built your portfolio well.

As you grow your portfolio you can increase your rates little by little. The first thing you should consider when deciding on your rate is your appetite for work. How much do you want to work, and how low (or high) are you willing to go? Just like everywhere else, the law of supply and demand governs the world of jobs online.

When applying for jobs online, always remember that your potential employer – your buyer or client – is a very busy person, who may not have the same patience a face-to-face interviewer might have. If you don’t answer the questions right, if you don’t follow the instructions well, and if you don’t present yourself and your capabilities in an efficient manner, she will walk away and go to the next applicant. Therefore, make sure that your applications are well-thought of, personalized, and contain relevant information.

Happy freelance job hunting!


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    • mommyfreelancer profile image

      mommyfreelancer 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hey, Emi!

      If they are truly impressed with your profile then they might spend some time following your link - it's a risk, is all. As for me, I have a portfolio of samples, and I've organized them according to topic. These are the same samples I send out. Your hubs can be great samples, just attach them to your letter as a document.

      Sure, let's go for those big jobs! :)

      I am not familiar with Elance, but I have done some work for Guru. Just tell me what to do and I will gladly follow you. Cheers!

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Ooooopppps, I sometimes refer to my hubpages for a sample of my work LOL. I used to attach a sample but I got worried because my previous client may go after me since I write mostly academic pieces.

      Hey mommyfreelancer, maybe we should try pooling our resources and bid on a big one in eLance or Guru. Some of those projects require a group of writers. Want a go at it? =)

    • mommyfreelancer profile image

      mommyfreelancer 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you, Dohn! And congratulations to you. I see you are a permanent fixture in Hubpages' front page. :)

      Syuryadi Helpi, hope this helps!

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      This is something I've been meaning to try, mommyfreelancer! Thanks for the info. You certainly are the right person to be writing this hub!

    • syuryadi helpi profile image

      syuryadi helpi 8 years ago

      thank you for your information.