Have you ever come across a job ad that just screams your name? You know what I am talking about, that job ad where every word is just dripping with a description of you and your talents. I’ve came across several of those seemingly perfect jobs before and I just came across another one today in my daily writing job search. The most frustrating thing is to just know you are a perfect fit for a client only to apply for the work and not hear anything back. Well, rather than immediately writing the client a “hire me please” note begging to be hired, here are some tips to actually help you hear back from that client that you really want to work with:
Apply for jobs that you actually qualify for.
Okay, okay, I know that a lot of my fellow freelancers will tell you that you have to apply for many, many jobs in order to land one. And I’m all for that, but the real truth here is that you have to apply for jobs that you can actually do. While it is impressive to apply for 25 jobs a day, are you really completely qualified for all of them? It makes much more sense to take your time and apply for a handful of projects that you are sure you qualify for rather than rushing through and applying to tons of jobs that you don’t necessarily qualify for and really couldn’t do even if you got the work.
Follow the directions.
This should really be common sense. We are taught from a very young age how to follow directions, so why some people still can’t do it is beyond me. Really, the concept is simple: a client writes an ad for what kind of work they have and what you need to give them to be considered for the project. Make sure you give them everything they ask for in the way that they ask for it. If they say don’t send attachments, then don’t. If they say to send three samples, then send three samples, not two. Seriously, what are you saying about yourself and your work ethic if you don’t even follow the directions when applying for the project?
Use a conversational tone.
One thing that I have found in my months of looking for freelance writing work is that email, the Internet, blogging, Twitter, Face Book, all that changes the tone of applying for freelance work. Back when I used to apply for full time jobs (and I have applied for a lot!) it would be with a formal, by the book cover letter, a resume that was also straight out of career services and that would suffice. But with the boom of social media everything is more casual, especially in the world of freelancing. Many clients these days are looking to hire a contract worker that can communicate in a functional way, not necessarily by writing Dear____ and signing off Sincerely _____. Be friendly, give the information they ask for and do it in a conversational way.
Don’t be overly friendly.
Okay, this might seem a little contradictory, but there is a line. Don’t cross it. You don’t need to tell a potential client that you sleep until 11 A.M. every day and work until midnight, or that you need to make some extra cash to take a trip. There is just no need for this. Tell them what they need to know in a nice way that doesn’t cross that delicate line.
Be clear and concise.
In my early days of applying for freelance writing jobs when I was asked to provide a rate I would give one rate for a blog post or I would give a flat rate for a project. But silly me, I forgot to include what that entailed. Now I try to be very clear. If I quote a flat rate for a project I say that it includes an x number of rewrites or a certain amount of interview time. For blog posts I now quote my price based on the number of words.
Ask for feedback.
I’ll admit that this is a little tricky. You can’t ask for feedback on every job that you apply for – chances are you don’t hear back from all of them. But I’ll bet that you have heard back from some for possibly clarification on something and have still ended up not getting the client. In this case I always wait a few days and then send a quick email asking for feedback on my resume – or my portfolio web site which I now use, my clips, my correspondence, etc. On a few occasions I have had responses that were very nice and most importantly very helpful in making me more efficient at applying for future freelance work.
Did I miss anything on this list. What do you do that works when applying for freelance writing work?