Lately, I’ve been working on a web project with a few friends (top secret for now but I’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready).
Anyways, I’ve been using oDesk quite a bit and I’ve gone through possibly hundreds of applicants over the last few weeks. The sheer volume is an indication of the competition out there and how popular freelancing online has become over the last few years.
If you want to be successful, you really have to set yourself apart from the masses. Some freelancers look at sites like this which offer micro freelancing opportunities in a different way than they would a 9-5 office job. I just get the feeling that they are not taking it seriously, and as a result make half hearted applications. I think that they are just playing the numbers, apply to as many jobs as they can and hope for the best.
The problem is, that both good and bad candidates are doing the same thing and as a result are not getting noticed.
So what’s going on? Some of these people seem highly qualified and probably are. Could it be a language barrier? Could it be that they have so many things going on that they don’t really care or need the job? I don’t really know the answer.
BUT, if you are really and sincerely trying to make an income online and want to get noticed, then I’ve got a few tips based on what makes me notice an applicant. I’ve also used these techniques quite successfully in my career when tending for projects.
Tip #1 – Read and Recommend.
The one thing I notice is whether the applicant has read the job description or not. It is quite evident in the cover letter.
The first giveaway is the copy paster. i.e. someone who simply copies the title and pastes it into the cover letter. Probably done by some software automation I’d bet.
Example. If I advertised a job with the description : ‘Fast touch typist required to transcribe audio’
I would typically get a few dozen responses such as:
‘Good day sir. I am very interested in your job ‘Fast touch typist required to transcribe audio’….. and then the go on into a generic cover letter,
‘Hello. I have excellent experience in ‘Fast touch typist required to transcribe audio’…. again leading on to a generic cv / cover letter. The sentence does not even make sense!!
It makes my job a lot easier. 🙂 I simply use this as a mechanism to eliminate candidates.
What you really should do is read, read, read and understand what the job is about.
- If they client has described what they are trying to achieve, then showcase your experience/skills in that area in the form of a mini discussion.
- Has the client has defined part of the problem?… then try and define it better than they can. Yip, if you can define their pain better than they can, you are placing yourself in a very good position!
- Most importantly, take note and respond to any questions that the client has asked within the job description.
You don’t have to go too in-depth. A few sentences will do. Remember, the client has dozens of applicants to go through so keep it short.
It just shows me that you are interested in me and the job at hand.
Tip #2 – Challenge and recommend
This may not apply to all job applications but if you have an opportunity then by all means challenge away. This will definitely get you noticed.
Personally, I’ve always taken note when an applicant says something like ‘I know what you are trying to achieve, but I think it would be better done by….’ and then going on to propose a different solution or an alternate approach.
Freelancers should not adopt a ‘do-as-the-client-says-yes-boss’ mentality. I think in anything you do, you should be open minded, strong willed and objective. So why not start at the job application phase. Not every client knows exactly what they want or how they want to achieve it. Sometimes the job advert is their best guess. You as a freelancer who is a specialist in that field is probably the best person to assess this. I personally appreciate it. Sometimes I know exactly what I want and how I want it done because it is in my field but other times, when it is outside of my comfort zone and skill set, I do really appreciate objective input and advice from freelancers.
So if you think that what the client is requesting is not the best, most efficient or appropriate way to do something, then by all means, speak your mind – politely of course. You have nothing to lose.
Tip #3 – Timing is crucial. Fast is not always best.
Here’s how I look at timing.
Timing Factor #1
In my world, fastest finger does not get you hired. I’ve learned to ignore the first few applicants especially if they have come in within minutes of me posting a job. Generally they have not read the advert and are blindly applying to the job.
So take your time, read it, do some research and then apply following tips 1 and 2 above.
Unless the advert says, I want someone in the next 30 minutes to solve an issue, I don’t think you should be hastily putting an application together. The client will notice.
Timing Factor #2
The second thing were timing is important is follow ups. This is where you need to be fairly quick. As soon as a client makes initial contact. Responding should be on your ASAP list of things to do. Again, making sure you follow the first two tips. Don’t leave it for more than 12 hours if possible. Personally, I prefer responses within the hour – timezone permitting. I’ve recently had someone that I was really interested in hiring take almost 3 days to respond to an interview request. By then I’d offered the job to someone else. It’s just a pity really!
Tip #4 Show initiative
*Disclaimer: I’m not advocating giving away work for free
The Micro Job
There are plenty of micro jobs out there. Jobs that you can generate some quick cash but only if you act fast and wisely. I’m talking about the jobs that’s generally less than $50. I’ve posted quite a few of these and they ranged from minor software changes, to topic suggests and image editing. I’ve noticed a few good candidates quite often post the solution/result as part of their job application. Again, I’m not advocating that you give stuff away for free. But if something can take you 5 minutes to do. The odds of you getting paid for your work (from a reputable client of course), is high IMHO. I can tell you that I do pay candidates who do this.
Now this can also be applied to larger jobs. Why not prepare something related to the job to showcase your talent. Not just a portfolio item but something quite specific to the job. You could even prepare just a snippet of some work that gives the client some reassurance that you know what you are doing. Trust me, showing relevant skills and initiative really goes a long way!
But don’t spend all day doing something. I think that would be a waste of your time and effort.
I’d bet if you take heed of these 4 tips and try it out on your next few job applications, that you will get noticed. So try it out and let me know what you think.
Also, if you have a few tips and would like to share it with our readers, drop in a comment below.
All the best and happy job hunting.