The disheartening amount of job applications that do not receive any kind of response is probably the first and most intimidating challenge that all new freelancers must face. Although this a problem that, quite literally, comes with the territory, feeling a bit discouraged is absolutely normal. Especially, at the beginning of your career. As the digital revolution goes on, the number of people who switched from a traditional career to remote freelancing job has significantly increased.
With one American in three who would gladly change job for one that allows him or her to work off-site, the online freelancing marketplace has become very competitive. The simplest, yet most practical advice is just to keep trying – only the most skilled and determined workers can survive.
Don’t worry, though, things will get better in due time! However, we want to help you a little bit more in the long run with a few useful tips that will increase your chances of being hired.
1. Be someone, be a person, be different
When you fill an application, you’re nothing but one candidate among at least another 50, sometimes even more. The question here is not just “who are you?” – in this scenario, your potential employer is probably asking himself a slightly different question: “What are you?”
Although this may seem insane, that’s the cold truth. While you are on the Internet, you’re nothing but a name slapped on a picture. Probably just an anonymous one, too. Your employers cannot look you in the eyes as you show them your determination; they cannot hear your voice while you try to convince them you’re the right person for this job; they cannot be seduced by your body language that emanates so much confidence. Your charisma is worth nothing. Deal with it.
If you want to make the difference, you should focus on what you are showing inside your profile or portfolio. “What are you” is much more important than “who are you”.
The first thing is to show everyone who visits your profile is a cool picture (more on that later). Work hard to create a well-organized portfolio. It should showcase a lot of cool samples of your work in an easily understandable format. Write a good resume that clearly presents your past experiences to provide the necessary context to your projects.
Always remember to add a quick “About me” section (usually just below your picture) to add a personal touch. Also, add a quick recap of who you are and what you can do.
Add the finishing touches by adding a short, on-point presentation letter, and you’re suddenly reborn as a productive remote worker they may want to hire. A quick, witty description of yourself is the final touch. It will make you look like an interesting and unique person, someone they can relate to, someone they can remember.
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2. Rebuild your own image into a brand
Showing a nice picture on your profile it’s the bread-and-butter of freelancing. Your picture is the first thing a potential employer will see. If you ever heard that first impressions matter, well that’s the truth – they do matter a lot, indeed.
Check all your best photos until you find the best one you can. Always use a picture where you’re smiling naturally, have a nice look, and seem genuinely happy and confident. No shades, no smirking faces, no hats. Everyone likes a person that radiates self-confidence and determination. Nobody likes a pompous, self-inflated pretender who photoshopped himself in some dumb, narcissistic pose.
Choosing the right picture is the first step toward rebuilding your image as a whole; start thinking about yourself as a brand. If you’re a freelancer, you’re not the average employee – you are your own brand you must sell to other people. Your own persona should become the product you are going to sell. And, your future employers are the prospect and lead you must engage.
Your picture is a living ad that promotes yourself – your physical appearance is the best way to make an impression. Whether you’re a medical writer, a stylist, a graphic designer, a photographer, or a computer programmer, people must perceive you as reputable, reliable, and authoritative. You must play this role to the best of your ability.
Celebrities often rebuild their image by changing what they wear and how they present themselves to affect their fans’ perception. You must choose your own brand, be it stylish, hipsterish, trendy, nerdy or whatever. Once you defined what your style is going to be, you need to highlight your uniqueness. Your appearance is your signature; it’s the best way to stand out from the crowd of other freelancers you’re competing against.
3. Know all about the newest communication technologies
Still today, a lot of old-school employers are still suspicious of remote working. They frequently shun away from hiring freelancers for a lot of reasons – poor communication being the most important one. Establishing effective communication is often the biggest challenge. Freelancers may come from all corners of the world, live in different time zones, speak different languages, or have different cultural habits. Poor communication may lead to serious money losses, wasted time, and disengagement.
Show your employer that you are able to tackle this problem efficiently by using the newest, most effective instant messaging tools, screen recording software, and communication devices. Do not buy a cheap webcam and a budget microphone. A low-quality video call with barely audible audio is not the best way to present yourself to a potential employee.
Spending $50 bucks more to get some good quality equipment is always worth it. Even landing a single additional gig will be worth the price you paid (usually ten times over). Using high-quality devices and professional software is a great way to show your commitment to the freelancing life, and an easy way to be one step ahead of your competitors.
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4. Be an application-ninja: be quick, direct and surgical about your responses
As a matter of fact, when you must read 50-100 application forms, your attention span will surely dwindle after looking at a couple of them. The vast majority of HRs will be more attentive to the first handful of resumes and descriptions they will check. This means that you want to be lightning-fast when you submit an application!
Try to always be among the first ten people who answered the job posting – it can really make a huge difference, especially if you’re seeking for quick gigs on online freelancing platforms.
Writing a long poem about how good, how special, how competent you are is quite pointless, too. Stay short: one to three sentences at most should be all you require to showcase yourself and start an engaging conversation. Pay attention to talk only about the matter at hand, and why you’re the perfect candidate for this particular job. Keep your employer’s attention focused by getting straight to the point – after all, they can always check your profile if they want to know more about you.
5. Look at your client’s profile and past history
Applications should be tailored to the individual person you’re talking too. Take your time taking a peek at your client’s profile. Chances are that they already hired a couple of freelancers in the past, and they may represent a goldmine of information for you.
Have a quick look at the profiles of those remote working professionals to check if they got something in common with you. Maybe that’s exactly what they’re looking for. Also, when possible, try to find out how much they were paid for this same type of job and tailor your offer accordingly.
If you’re sending an application hoping to be hired by a large company rather than an individual employer, money won’t be the problem. They will be looking for the best, most skilled specialist they can find on the freelancing job market, regardless of the cost. What really matters in this case, is to show them a great resume, and hope your portfolio is good enough for their expectations.
On the other hand, if the employer is a small business owner or a casual self-employed professional who’s looking for a freelancer to do a quick one-time job, money can be an issue. Be sure not to waste their time with your encyclopedic culture and amazing skill by showing them all your past experiences. Cut to the chase, and offer them a fair deal and a nice discount for long-term engagements.
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If you truly want to master remote working, there’s a lot to learn. In due time you will be seasoned enough to know how to survive even the harshest times. No matter how experienced you are, however, some things will never change.
Lesson number one, in fact, always stays the same – never give up when you cannot find new freelancing jobs. Just keep trying, do not feel discouraged, and slightly change your approach every time. Landing that well-paid job, you were dreaming of is only a matter of time!
This article is written by Nikola Baldikov. He is the Digital Marketing Manager at Brosix, a secure instant messaging software for business communication. Besides his passion for digital marketing, he is an avid fan of football and loves to dance.