It’s an all-too-common freelancing scenario: you’re sitting at your desk/laptop/whatever your workspace happens to be, and you’re motivated to work. The thing is, you either don’t have any work to do, or what your current gig isn’t enough to be financially viable on its own.
So, you get those cover letter and resumé files out, and you start searching the Internet for freelance job opportunities – you might even be bookmarking the more promising ones. Finally, you begin applying, filling out application after application, and…crickets, or the dreaded “we’ve decided not to move forward with your application” sorts of replies.
Yes, it’s frustrating, and perhaps you’ve even shed a tear or two (or 10, or 20…) about the whole thing. Read on for some ideas about what you can fix to get your freelancing career back on track!
It’s not you, it’s them.
With algorithms changing all the time in the name of promoting a better, more search-relevant Internet, this first one is less of a problem than it used to be. By this, I mean sometimes, “employers” aren’t really hiring at all – they just want to get their brand/website/service/you get the idea out there, and figure it’s a faster, easier way to gauge traffic. This has been particularly prevalent in the writing community, as opposed to other freelancing niches.
Solution: pay very, very close attention to how any and all job listings are worded. “Employers” might go on at length with keyword-rich descriptions of who they are. Basically, if it seems more like a “buy this now!” sort of advertisement, then it probably is.
It might be a screening software situation.
There’s no denying that the world of freelancing is one of competition. For every job that’s advertised, there’s the potential for dozens, even hundreds of applicants. So, some employers have screening software in place that scans applications, resumés, and cover letters for certain terms. If you don’t happen to include what they’re looking for, you’re automatically disqualified, sight unseen.
Solution: No, this sort of thing isn’t fair, yet you can put a positive spin on it by making sure your application materials are optimized to your freelancing niche. You can do this on your own, or even find a resumé writing service – just make sure to check reviews and compare prices, as it seems there are more companies offering this service than ever.
Keep things objective.
Sometimes, potential employers do manually go through freelancing applications and just ignore whomever it is that they don’t want to hire. Or, they do provide very haughty, formulaic, and/or terse rejections.
Solution: you can’t let emotion get in the way – don’t try responding back demanding to know why you weren’t chosen, etc. That sort of behavior not only brings you down to their level of rudeness, it could also jeopardize your chances of getting other jobs within your freelancing niche.
Understand the experience quotient.
It’s normal to apply for lots of different jobs at once. Many freelancers, in their haste to keep regular sources of income going, will apply to jobs that pay well, yet aren’t really within their scope of expertise. For example, if you’re a new freelancer who still has a portfolio to build, the chances of getting a job with a major company are slim, unless you get in as an intern. Conversely, you could have lots of experience – so much, in fact, that you might be considered a threat to the management that’s already in place.
Solution: it’s all about starting small and building up, studying the hiring climate in your niche, and developing your skills as needed. No matter what your niche is, versatility is a must, as is perseverance!