7 Mistakes You Might Be Making in Your Search for Online Work
Are you looking for online work?
Are you one of the many, many people who are seeking online work? Perhaps you are looking for online freelance design work or online freelance writing jobs. If so, chances are that you have come across freelancing websites. Freelancing websites are sites where employers post a project and potential freelancers / contractors place a bid on that project to win that contract. It can be a great way to earn an online income, however the competition on these sites can be quite high and contrary to popular belief the lowest price won't always win the bid.
How "not" to get online freelance work
This article could have easily been titled: How Not to Get Freelance Work. Most of the points covered are pretty logical things not to do in a job interview, yet it would be fair to say that it is quite common for a prospective employer to receive such applications.
Over the last few years I have hired freelancers from sites such oDesk and Elance for things such as transferring my wordpress site to a new host, doing some graphic design work and website promotion.
After all this time, it still surprises me the way in which some contractors will apply for projects. People who are trying to make a living out of online freelance work are wasting their chance by being careless.
If you are a freelancer bidding on jobs take a few moments to have a read of the following. The tips might just help you secure your next (or first) freelancing job.
1. You waste those first two important lines on your application.
On most freelance jobs sites (at the time of writing) when you see an overview of your applicant list, you only see the first two lines. Make those lines count. Be different. The goal is to make potential employers open up your full application and read your cover letter. You’d be surprised how many applicants actually fail to mention the project which they are applying for and instead use generic terms; this project, this website, this design. If I see that someone has mentioned my project in the first two lines, I will likely want to hear what they have to say.
2. You copy and paste your application
If I can see that your application has been copy and pasted there is no chance, no matter how skilled you are, that I will give your application the time of day. It will go in my delete pile right away. Why? If you can’t even show interest in my job specifics on a cover letter, how do I know that you won’t get bored of my project days or weeks after being hired. Or worse, how do I need that you have even read my project's details?
I am not against contractors using a template cover later as a starting point, but for goodness sake, at least edit it so it doesn’t sound so generic and spend a few minutes at the very least customizing the letter to reflect the job which you are applying for.
5. You assume that your folio will fit all my needs
A typical oDesk project can attract 20-30 applicants, if not more. That’s 30+ folios for your prospective employers to look at. The problem is that the folios hosted on freelance sites such as oDesk or Elance can contain anywhere from one to hundreds of samples.
Make it easier for the employer to find examples of your work that relate to the project that you are applying for. If you are applying for a brochure design contract, then make sure that your potential employer does not need to sift through 5 pages of web design samples before finding your brochure work. Be sure to only include the highest quality samples of your work in your folio. Never include samples that is not a fair representation of your current skills.
How often do you apply for online work?
3. You assume that I am a mind reader
As a prospective employer, nothing irritates me more than receiving an application with a mere few words and absolutely useless words at that! As hard as it is to believe, the following is actually a full extract of two cover letters taken from two different applications for a recent job I posted. The letters had no introduction, didn't mention the project which they were bidding on and failed to mention their skills.
Cover letter #1
I can do job. Hire Me.
Cover letter #2
This job is easy. Let's start.
Really? How is this job easy for you? What are your skills? I would rather read on a cover letter how your skills match up to my project requirements. The last job I posted involved some graphic design and illustration skills. Out of about thirty applicants only about three actually mentioned (with example) that they knew how to draw. The successful applicant told me that she had drawing skills and had specific folio examples to back up her claims. She was hired. She was charging more than 95% of all the other applicants, but I way also buying peace of mind, which is very important when working with contractors globally.
4. You assume I am a man
I have lost count of the number of times that an application I receive is addressed Dear Sir. I am not, nor will I ever be a sir, so unless you are positive that you are corresponding with a male, do not make gender assumptions.
That’s not to say that I won’t definitely hire you. However if it comes up between you and another applicant that hasn’t called me a man, you know who I’m picking!
6. You lie to me
One of the most important parts of the employer-contractor relationshiop is trust. If an employer finds a trustworthy applicant, they are more likely to be rehired or at the very least, leave a glowing review for that freelancer.
Don’t ever lie on an application. You will be caught. One of the things that really gets under my skin is when someone applies to my job and I later find out that they applied on behalf of a staffing agency and outsourced my job. I prefer to work with individuals so I know that the person I am dealing with gets the full payment. Always be upfront with your prospective employer , because if you get a contract based on lies, the truth will, and always does come out.
Which freelance website do you commonly use?
7. You demonstrate poor English skills
Communication is the key to a successful contractor and employer relationship. The major freelancing websites ( oDesk, Elance) all use English as the primary language, which is why the better your English skills are, they better your chances are at being hired as a contractor.
If your employer’s first language is English, they will want you to be able to have a good level of English skills. I don’t care so much about grammar and typos, unless I’m hiring someone for a writing job, however If I receive an application with a bad level of broken English, I cannot even consider that contractor, as I would be concerned at whether my project specifics were being understood.
Treat online work the same way as you would your offline work
When writing your cover letter try to remember that applying for a contract on a freelancing site is exactly the same as applying for a job in the offline world. If you can remember that, your chances of securing a freelance project is bound to increase significantly.