This guest post is by Jason Bacchetta of Life’d.
After posting quite a few jobs on the ProBlogger Job Board, I’ve come to realize that a number of pet peeves affect my decision as to whether or not an applicant gets hired. Although some jobs receive upwards of 500 applicants, few of those people will follow these twelve easy steps to scoring the job.
Implement the tips given here, and watch the positive responses to your applications skyrocket!
1. Follow the instructions
The very first thing you should do before applying for a job is read the entire job post.
If the company or individual asks for something specific, be sure to follow the instructions. After you’ve completed the application, go back through both your application and the job posting, making sure you’ve covered all your bases.
By following this first step, chances are you’ll already be in the top 20% of applicants.
2. Start with the application itself
Believe it or not, I’ve had applicants ask me not to take their initial application into consideration when judging how qualified they are for the job.
Your application is your first impression, when you should be trying your hardest. If you’re unable to demonstrate your qualifications now, why should you be trusted to perform in the future?
Use complete sentences in your application, and make sure you’re not making any obvious spelling and/or grammatical mistakes (read 3 Simple Grammar Tips to Improve Your Writing).
3. Act fast
If you find an exciting job opportunity, you need to act fast. As mentioned, some postings will receive hundreds of applications. Don’t wait a week before applying; get started immediately.
By being one of the first to apply, you’ll get noticed before the hiring manager becomes overwhelmed and, even more importantly, before the job has been filled.
Keep in mind, though, that “acting fast” doesn’t mean you should submit a sloppy application with a dozen errors; this will cancel out any advantages you might gain from applying early. Rather than getting eyeballs on your application, your email will end up getting trashed.
4. Don’t be demanding
Occasionally, I’ll get an email that sounds more like a decree than an application.
Telling the hiring manager how it’s going to be (e.g., “I get paid weekly via PayPal,” “I will submit X amount of articles on these days,” etc.) is not likely to go over well.
Don’t be so aggressive. Focus on getting hired first, and then get into the details and the negotiating once you know the hiring manager is interested in you.
5. Be direct
Start off your application with exactly what was asked for, and format your email so that it can be scanned.
If you choose to send one big block of text covering every minute detail about your awards and past experience, you will come across as a poor communicator … and boring. At the very least, this will earn your application a “come back to later” tag.
Additionally, don’t send the hiring manager all over the web with 30 different links. The person reading your application wants to find what they’re looking for quickly and without feeling like they’re spending more time doing research than actually evaluating you.
6. Submit relevant examples
If you’re applying to become a writer on a personal finance blog, link to articles that you’ve written in that particular niche. Submitting a portfolio that consists of random ramblings or medical research won’t get you far. Remember, your voice and writing style are going to be taken into consideration as well.
In other words, take that same cookie-cutter application that’s getting sent to everyone, and customize it to be better suited to this particular job.
7. Be honest
If you’re submitting an application that has been written by someone else, you’re going to be exposed in a flash. I’ve had applicants submit impressive applications, but when it comes time to write an article, their work barely qualifies as English.
Likewise, if you’re submitting sample articles that have been heavily edited by someone else, be upfront about it. Otherwise, you are going to be expected to deliver work of that quality each and every time.
Most companies won’t have any problem with letting you go the moment you fail to live up to their standards.
8. Don’t hesitate
Don’t send over an email asking whether or not you should apply, even if you’re just checking to see if the job has already been filled. You may come across as lazy or unsure of your own qualifications. If you’re not confident in yourself, why should I be?
9. Be realistic about pay
The web has completely changed the way publications are run. Rather than a few magazines that charge for each edition and stuff ads into every other page, we now have tens of thousands of websites that everyone expects to read for free.
Think about it. How often do you pay to read an article on the Internet? Sure, maybe you click on a few banner ads here and there (or maybe you have a program like Adblock installed, in which case the publication is actually paying you to read their articles), but the fact is, revenue isn’t what it used to be when traditional media ruled.
Be realistic about how much you expect to get paid for writing on the web. Of course, there are still publications out there that pay upwards of $2 per word, but those jobs are few and far between.
There are U.S.-based writers with some college education who are willing to write for as little as $0.03 per word. On the high end, I personally pay upwards of $0.10 per word to my best writers. These are people who not only have excellent written English skills, but who are also capable of generating intriguing article ideas and producing viral content with little to no help from me.
10. Be patient
Obviously, knowing that someone truly wants the job for which they are applying is a plus for the person doing the hiring. But don’t get too far ahead of yourself. At the very least, give it a few days before following up on your application. Ambition is great, but you don’t want to look too desperate or pestering.
Also keep in mind that popular jobs—ones that offer good pay and tend to be more exciting—are going to receive a lot more applications than the others. Therefore, in some circumstances, you may want to hold off for a couple weeks before sending over a second email.
11. Don’t burn your bridges
You’ve heard this phrase before, but you may not have known that it applies to freelance web positions as well. You never know how many web properties someone owns. And many website owners will ask each other for referrals when looking to fill a position.
I’ve had people burn me in the past, who then went on to apply for other job postings of mine. Needless to say, they didn’t get a response.
12. Treat it like a real interview
All of these guidelines point to one simple rule: treat your online freelance applications as if they were a real job interview. If you wouldn’t say something or act a certain way in a face-to-face interview, why would you do it via email?
This is a guest post by Jason Bacchetta, founder of Life’d, where you’ll find life hacks, health, finance and productivity tips.