When, as an editor, and actually posted ads hoping to fill a few freelance writing jobs, I was astounded at how hardly any of those applying every followed the directions I’d taken time to spell out.
I was even more surprised when I discovered many editors felt exactly the same way.
None of us could figure out why so many who said they wanted to work with us, ignored how we wanted them to apply for freelance writing jobs.We all agreed, however, that folks who didn’t apply the way we asked never got hired.
Typical instructions for applying for freelance writing jobs
The kinds of instructions about how to apply include:
- Submit resume in body of email
- Resumes in .pdf only
- Send links only
- Add 12345 in the subject line.
- Tell us why you are the perfect person for this job
- Write a sample article
- Apply using this link
- Submit through agent only
- Query only
What the writing client wants
When someone takes the time to spell out instructions, they do so for two reasons.
- First, it’s a mini-test. If you can’t follow instructions why in the world would they think you could write what they want and need?
- Second, they’ve set up a procedure that they believe will make it easier to find the right person to hire.
You may think it’s really dumb that they ask for a .pdf or insist you fill out an application on some website or other. It doesn’t matter what you think. That’s what they want it, so, if you want a shot at the gig, do it their way. Truly, it’s the only way to even get considered.
Objective and not so objective reasons
Some of the directions address how the computers are set up to process the job applications in the potential employers workplace. Attachments, for example, may be removed automatically before the email is delivered as a way to help protect against spam and phishing attacks. They may perceive .pdfs as safer than Word files. Filling out a form on a website helps protect against spam and may provide sorting capability.
The request for an odd number or phrase in a subject line is another way they are testing for both ability to follow instructions and giving themselves a way to sort their email.
Other requirements you find when looking for freelance writing jobs are much more subjective.
When you’re asked to say why you’re the best person for a freelance writing job, the prospective employer is hoping to discover a bit about your writing style and something about how you perceive the offered writing gig. You can only do your best.
The request to write a sample article, or several, is best viewed with suspicion, at least when it shows up in an ad. I generally ignore those ads, or if I think it’s something I want to pursue, I send them a link to an article I’ve already written. (Yes, even I sometimes ignore certain instructions when looking for freelance writing jobs, but not often.) The risk, of course, is they will use your article sample and never pay you.
On the other hand, if we’ve had some email correspondence or a phone call and they then ask for a sample, I may very well give them one – totally a judgement call. I know successful writers who won’t write a word without being paid.
When you’re looking for freelance writing jobs, give yourself a leg up and follow the instructions. That already puts you head and shoulders above the crowd.
Find two more secrets at 3 Secrets To Responding To A Freelance Writing Job Ad
What’s been your experience following or not following the application instructions when looking for freelance writing jobs?
Write well and often,
Image: Found on flickr, Some rights reserved by deanmeyersnet.