Applying to Your First oDesk Job with a Great Cover Letter

Now that you are armed with a great oDesk profile, a killer portfolio and have located a great client, you need to draft your very first application letter. oDesk is a very tough marketplace. When applying to a job, you need to ensure that your application letter makes you stand out among the crowd. Your letter must fulfill its purpose, i.e. land you the job. While this article’s title conveys that it explains how to apply to your first few jobs on oDesk, I believe that these guidelines should be followed when applying to any job on oDesk. The cover letter for any oDesk job must be written in the following way.

While there is no set formula for applying to a job on oDesk, you can follow a few general guidelines to exponentially raise the chances of getting hired. First and foremost, you need to read the job description EXTREMELY carefully. Many times, applicants just rush through the job description and copy paste a boiler plate response for the cover letter. The problem is that hundreds of applicants apply to every job on oDesk and a large majority of them apply using boiler plate responses! Think of it from the prospective client’s point of view. The person ends up reading application after application for hours on end. Thus, it is essential to ensure that yours stands out.

Often, many clients include special instructions in their job descriptions, specifically to help weed out poor applicants. They often ask applicants to start their application with a specific word or color or some such thing. This helps them distinguish people who actually read the job post from those who didn’t. Many also specifically ask you to include a 100 word write – up. When applying to these jobs, take a special note of these things and be sure to follow them. By not doing this, you automatically convey to the client that you are incapable of following instructions. Needless to say, this is very bad for any professional.

Also, make sure to take your time when applying. Many freelancers tend to try and apply to a ton of jobs in a minimum amount of time. This is rarely a good policy. One of the best things to do is to invest time when applying to a job. Make sure the client you are applying to is a good one and then spend a few minutes when applying. This is very effective to help beat the competition too. Most freelancers from the Philippines and Vietnam believe in quantity over quality. This is not a good policy. To set yourself apart from these hordes, always take your time when you are applying. This helps you avoid overlooking instructions.

One thing that I have always found to be extremely helpful is addressing the cover letter to the reader by name. Of course, most clients don’t make their name public on oDesk. This is what makes a cover letter addressed directly to them intriguing. In the very least, they take the time to read your cover letter. There is a simple trick to finding the name of your client: the feedback. That’s right, the feedback! A majority of freelancers (myself included) use the clients name when leaving feedback. If you take the time to actually look through the feedback, you can usually locate any client’s name. Seasoned clients are aware of this and appreciate the extra effort, instantly earning you points!

You must also make it a point to answer any additional questions the client has included in the application. Many good clients tend t include a few other questions. One of the most common ones is : Do you have any suggestions to help this project run successfully?. Instead of simply answering ‘No’, you could probable write something to the effect ‘It is too early for me to comment. Until I see the project and get a better idea about its working, I’m afraid I don’t have any valuable suggestions to offer.’ Though the same as the previous answer, it is much nicer to read.

Finally, remember brevity is beauty. What I mean is, most clients have hundreds of applications to sort everyday. They simply do not have the time to read a 1 page essay. You need to say what you have to say within a few lines. However, be sure to cover all the points raised by the client. Don’t make it so short that it works against you. Make sure to never repeat. This is for applications with multiple questions. Do not repeat the answer to a particular answer in both your cover letter and question. Simply remove it from the cover letter.

Keep reading the series on working successfully on oDesk.

Stay connected to find out more, I would be more than happy to field any and all queries, just post a comment. Also, take a minute to join the Freelance Writer’s Club. It’s a great way to get periodic mails about new posts, useful resources and also, the occasional writing gig!