How to Apply for Jobs Online: Experts Share Their Secrets
September 25th, 2015
Getting that well-paying online project is far from a simple task.
You’re dealing with intense competition and being the chosen expert, especially if you’re just getting started in the world of freelancing, may seem absolutely impossible.
The way in which you apply, the information you share and even the way in which you address your potential client will affect your chances of being chosen. Learning from the experience of people than have been in the field for years and that have scored some serious projects can be helpful for improving your approach.
What are employers looking for and what can you do to increase your chances of success?
Keep on reading to find out what some of the most experienced and reputable freelancers have to share.
Forget about the Generic Cover Letter
Generic cover letters are incredibly easy to spot. They’re indicative of both laziness and sloppiness. If you want to get hired, you’ll have to approach each application in a unique, personalized way.
Don’t use a template. Read through the information included in the job ad and try to address every single concern that the potential employer has. If samples are asked for, make sure that you include such files or links to your online portfolio. If the employer needs you to answer certain questions, all of these should be addressed in the cover letter.
By going for a generic application, you’ll miss an amazing opportunity to stand out from the crowd and show the potential employer or client that you are the right person for the job. Most often, generic-looking applications get deleted and the same applies to all of the applications that don’t follow all of the employer’s instructions.
Showcase the Appropriate Skills and be Honest!
A potential employer doesn’t want to know about the internship that you took way back in college, especially if it isn’t relevant. When applying, make sure that you’re showcasing the skills that will make you the right candidate for the particular job.
List all of your qualifications accurately and if possible, support the information with evidence. The relevant work experience is also important.
Be honest about it and don’t make claims about core competences that you don’t have. Many people think that they can exaggerate in their application in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. This strategy can easily backfire and you’ll experience the negative consequences as soon as the client finds out that you don’t have the skills that you claimed to possess.
Build a Quality Profile
Apart from taking a look at your application, a potential employer will also examine your online profile. Make sure that it looks both comprehensive and professional.
Fill out all of the important details. Make your contact information readily available. The same applies to all of the links featuring your work samples. Don’t underestimate the importance of a nice photograph. A professional profile photo can reveal tons of information about your expertise, personality and skills. Choose a nice picture that is work-appropriate. Anything a bit more frivolous would look amateurish.
Finally, think about verifying your identity. Online platforms usually have a verification process that helps clients rest assured that you’re the person that you claim to be. Going through the verification process is usually a simple task but it can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on your application.
Proofread Everything before Sending
Regardless of the position you’re seeking, you can’t afford to have typos and grammar mistakes in your application.
Failing to proofread everything is indicative of sloppiness. Your application will immediately be discarded for a mistake like that.
Most Filipino workers are known for their English proficiency. Proofing everything before sending will require just a couple of minutes and this final effort will significantly increase your chances of hearing back from the client.
Keep Your Resume Updated and Add New Skills
We live in a dynamic world and professionals are constantly working on upgrading their skills. Make sure that you keep your resume updated and if you’ve taken any new courses or had certain experiences, add this information.
As a general rule of thumb, it would be a good idea to update your resume at least once every six to 12 months.
Just think about it — what did your resume feature two years ago? Five years ago? Chances are that it was missing vital information about the core competences you’ve acquired through the years. It’s up to you to keep the application contemporary and to show potential employers that you’re familiar with new technology, techniques and skills.
The very same applies to your portfolio. Every freelance professional seeking for employment online needs to have a web-based portfolio. It looks cool, it showcases your best work and it can give employers actual information about the type of work you’re capable of doing.
Build a Profile that’s Reflective of Your Career Goals
Online platforms give you a lot of freedom in terms of putting the perfect profile together and giving potential employers some information about what your career goals are.
Think about the skills and competences that make you a great candidate for your dream job. Make sure that this particular part of your profile is highlighted. Employers want to see relevance. There’s no need to put an extensive list of irrelevant competences together — nobody has the time to go through all of this information.
You should be targeting your dream job and nothing else! Choose the skills that make you stand out and increase your chances of getting that dream job.
Specific is Always Better
Some freelancers commit the grave mistake of applying for just about everything that comes their way. Though this strategy may guarantee some financial resources in the very beginning, it’s going to be detrimental in terms of long-run reputation establishment.
Applying for everything, decreasing your rate and grabbing just about every opportunity will make you seem desperate. It isn’t indicative of professionalism and confidence in the skills that you have.
In addition, applying for too many jobs suggests that you either don’t know what you’re doing or you lack the niche skills to stick to a certain industry and build a career there. As a result of such a basic mistake, you’ll decrease the chances of getting hired significantly.
Focus your efforts and sort through the job ads carefully. Determine what the minimum amount you’re going to charge is. Don’t go below this amount, even if you are a beginner.
Understand the fact that quality has a certain value and clients worth working for understand this fact.
Go carefully through all of the job ads and make sure that you’re only applying to the offers that you really like. Fewer applications will be much easier to manage. You’ll decrease the amount of communication and focus on convincing a few potential employers that you’re the right person for the job.
Otherwise, you’ll have a hectic schedule of sending messages and replying to questions while limiting your prospects of getting hired due to the sheer volume of communication. The more people you’re interacting with and the more questions you’re answering per day, the higher the risk of making a mistake.
Being Polite with Difficult Clients Pays Off
When looking for a job online, remember one important thing — it’s not personal.
Some clients will have a poor attitude. This doesn’t mean you should get down to the same level and forget about professionalism. Rejection, misunderstandings and rude clients can happen to all freelancers. That’s ok — it’s a part of the process.
Remain polite and professional, no matter what the circumstances are. If you’re capable of maintaining your composure and being adequate in such situations, chances are that you may even get to turn things around. Remember that online communication is indirect.
There are cultural differences, as well. Just because someone appears to be rude or aggressive in their messages doesn’t mean that they’re really “out to get you.” Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and maintain the tone polite.
Address the Ridiculousness in Job Ads
Every freelancer has come across ridiculous requests in job ads. These often seem to be out of place but employers have a reason for making strange requests.
The most unusual ones include starting your cover letter with a certain word, answering a totally irrelevant question (like the name of your favorite band) or formatting the cover letter in a particular way.
Employers make these strange requests to see whether you’ve gone through the entire job ad and understood the information it contains. Anyone who fails addressing the strange task has obviously skipped over this information.
Answering a weird question will require just a couple of seconds and it reveals that you’re capable of following instructions. Don’t underestimate the importance of those little “tests.” Passing can make all the difference in the world.
Make Sure that You’re the Best Professional for the Job
Even if you follow all of the suggestions listed in this article, chances are that you will not get the job if you aren’t the best candidate.
Continue investing in yourself. Most industries change rapidly. Professionals constantly have to acquire new skills to keep their experience relevant.
You can find dozens of courses and qualification programs online. Some of these are available for free, other workshops require a payment to be attended. Look for the most reputable learning opportunities and use those to improve your competences and show employers that you are the right person for the job.
Finally, don’t get discouraged. Chances are that you’ll get rejected a couple of times. You’ll need to work hard to get that first job. Building the right professional profile and working on your core competences will sooner or later get your online career started.
Once you land that first project and you have at least one satisfied customer, chances are that you’ll find it a lot easier to continue establishing your reputation and finding new employment options.