7 oDesk Cover Letter Tips

oDesk cover letter

At oDesk cover letter is perhaps the most important aspect of your application. An oDesk cover letter needs to be written in a way that is relevant to the job at hand. A cover letter can make or break your job application, irrespective of your other portfolio items or previous experience. Therefore, it is extremely important to write the best letter possible to create a good first impression.

There are many misconceptions about writing oDesk cover letters or in fact any other freelance job opening cover letters. Part of this is because people tend to take the advice given for traditional cover letters while applying for offline jobs and use it for oDesk cover letters. This hardly works ever, if at all. Freelancing is a whole different ball game altogether and you need to understand the nuances of online communication.

In addition, it is worthwhile to remember that small business differ in their hiring process compared to big businesses at least when it comes to hiring freelancers. If you fail to know the distinction, you run the risk of losing a very good job opportunity. So here are some oDesk cover letter tips that will help you make that killer first impression. I am giving you these tips as a very successful oDesk freelance writer, with over 50 feedback ratings and a score of 5.00/5.00.

You will also find my 7 oDesk Tips article very useful if you are applying for freelancing jobs at oDesk or elsewhere.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-1: Don’t Beat Around the Bush

This is one of the most common mistakes made by people applying to jobs at oDesk. A cover letter should be short and to the point. Does the job require designing a web page? Don’t talk about your C++ skills. Does the job require blog writing? Don’t talk about your experience in writing academic essays. Get to the point, be precise and show that you are fit for the job.

If you beat around the bush, it can mean that

  • You haven’t read the job description fully, which is bad from the employer’s point of view.
  • Worse, the employer thinks you are just copy-pasting your cover letter instead of preparing one for the job, so you are not interested.

You would of course not want to sound as either of the above, so once again, don’t beat around the bush: be precise and to the point.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-2: Proofread your Cover Letter

You will be surprised by how many mistakes you can find in a typical cover letter at oDesk. This includes both spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Make sure you proofread what you have written. If possible, let someone else do the checking as well, say a friend. It is usually hard for you to spot errors in a piece that you have written yourself.

One very important thing to remember is never to make spelling errors. These are instant turn offs. I always use Mozilla Firefox while writing a cover letter, so any spelling mistakes are immediately highlighted. If not, write it in MS Word and paste it in the main cover letter area.

If you have confusion regarding some elements of grammar, always check a reference. Check out the common grammatical errors and see if you make any of those. If needed, use a grammar reference guide as well.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-3: Never Copy-Paste

Here is a little trick that I use whenever I apply to any job at oDesk. Each job is unique and there are unique skills required. There could always be some overlap, but my overall tone needs to be consistent throughout. So, whatever happens, I never copy-paste anything into my cover letter. Not even my standard qualifications, my strengths, my feedback, etc. I write them all from scratch.

Why do I do that? Because of consistency. It is not hard for an experienced person to judge if you have heavily copy-pasted your cover letter and have a generic tone instead of a specific one for the job. Be on the safe side,

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-4: Apply Keeping the Job in Mind

Never ever write a very general cover letter which has nothing to do with the job in hand. If you don’t copy paste, half the battle is won. Next, you should read the job description. List out what skills and experience is required for the job. This may not be stated explicitly, so you should be able to understand what skills are required. Now demonstrate that you have those skills. Every sentence you write should be written keeping the job in mind. Of course you want your strengths to be shown, but only as relevant to the job. You may be a national level sprinter, but don’t mention it on a cover letter applying for a PHP programming job. Always be relevant.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-5: Point to your Strengths

oDesk has many tools that help you show your previous experience and work. You should complete your full profile before you get started on the site and before you write any single cover letter.

Now, look at the strengths in your profile. You might have a very good portfolio and may have previously written for magazines and newspapers but be new to oDesk. In that case, your previous experience is your greatest strength. You should mention it in the cover letter. If you have previously designed web pages, show your work.

For those who are a little older at oDesk, mentioning about your feedback might be a good way to catch the attention of the employer if it is good. I often mention that I am one of the highest rated writers at oDesk with a perfect feedback of 5.00/5.00. This helps my application to stand out.

Sometimes, if you don’t have a lot of previous experience at oDesk or elsewhere but are good at what you do, consider giving many relevant oDesk tests. If you are among the Top 10% or 1st place, it is worth mentioning in your cover letter, especially if you are new and don’t have a lot of feedback.

In the end, it is all about standing out. The employer probably gets 15-20 applications on an average for every job posting, and much more in some cases. At a quick glance, he should know that you are worth considering, so write something that distinguishes you from the crowd. Create a unique selling point.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-6: Always Follow Instructions

It is very important to follow the instructions given in the job posting. If the job requires that you show some samples of your work, show the samples. If it requires you to send a detailed resume, send one. Never neglect the steps outlined in a job posting.

In addition, a lot of people, of late, require you to include a letter or phrase at the beginning to ensure that you have read the whole job description. Without this, they will not even read your cover letter and your entire effort will go waste. So make sure you follow such instructions carefully as required.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-7: Show you are Interested

Always show your interest. You can include a sentence or two about why you think the job is exciting for you. Talk about enjoying a challenging assignment and relate the current job to your previous experience working.

Sometimes, to show that you are interested and serious, include an email and phone number. It is highly unlikely they will call you, but it shows that you are serious and interested in the job.

So here are some oDesk cover letter tips that I have to share from my experience working on oDesk. Am I missing something? Do you have something to add? I would love to hear from you!

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7 oDesk Tips for Freelancers

oDesk TipsThese oDesk tips will help freelancers get the oDesk jobs that they want. oDesk is a marketplace that brings freelancers and employers together. This is a way to bring workers and employers together so they can negotiate and work on a project. oDesk is just a medium for the interaction of the two parties and provides some safeguard mechanisms to facilitate the process smoothly but ultimately it is between the contractor (freelancer) and business owner (employer) to decide the terms of their work arrangement.

oDesk is a great way to start a freelancing career for anyone. It is completely free to join (there are no premium memberships, like at other freelancing sites like Elance or Guru) and has a flat rate of 10% fee for all payments made at oDesk, which is actually not too bad, at least for beginners. It is a really great way for someone to make money online by using his skills.

However, it is not easy to get the dream assignments at oDesk unless you follow these oDesk tips. This is because you will be competing against several candidates from across the globe. Some of them will have superior skill and experience while others might have a cost advantage compared to your bid. Therefore it is important to know and understand the best oDesk tips which will help you land your coveted job. There are regular tips on cover letters that you follow, but this post is written exclusively for oDesk cover letters.

oDesk Tip-1: Complete Your Profile

This is a very important part of your oDesk work experience which is often neglected by beginners. oDesk profiles are fairly comprehensive. You need to enter a lot of information regarding your previous experience, your skill sets, work portfolio, work samples, etc. It is very important that you take the time and effort to fill these out in a detailed manner. Potential employers do look at your complete profile, so it is important to appear professional.

Also remember never to bluff your way into a job – always be truthful about your skills. For example, oDesk asks you to assess your English skills. If you enter a 5, you better be good because it is not hard for an employer to make it out if you are anything less.

Another important aspect of the oDesk profile is including a portrait of yourself. This shows employers that you are genuine and serious about the work and are here on oDesk for the long term to make it as a freelancer.

A final tip is to make sure that your oDesk profile shows 100% complete by the time you are done. This way you can keep track of the essential elements like portfolio, resume, portrait, etc.

oDesk Tip-2: Make a Compelling Tagline

oDesk gives you an option to sell yourself in one line using a tagline. Use this wisely. When an employer looks at your profile, the first thing he sees is this tagline beside your name. It should be compelling and should showcase your strengths in that particular area. Don’t make it very generic, like “Excellent writer for hire”. Instead, make it very specific to your needs, like “Published author with 10 years of creative writing experience” or “Experienced copywriter with a Masters in English” or something that is right for you.

oDesk Tip-3: Take oDesk Skills Tests

Many employers want the best people and taking the oDesk skills tests not only shows that you are good but also shows that you are serious. Personally, I have taken and passed 14 tests related to writing, 9 of which show a Top 10% badge against the score. This is a good thing to have in your profile page.

Taking the oDesk skills tests is especially important for beginners who do not have a lot of work history and feedback. By passing these tests with flying colors, you are showing that even though you haven’t worked long at oDesk, you are serious about making a commitment to your freelancing career.

oDesk Tip-4: Never Bid Below What You are Worth

This is a common mistake made by people who are desperate to get their first job. They try to lower their rate to much below what they are worth. There are many job postings at oDesk aimed at people like these but this is not the right approach towards any freelancing career. Sure, as you gain in feedback and reputation within the community, you can demand higher prices but that doesn’t mean you under-sell yourself to write articles at $1/hour.

In the long run, you are always better off working on projects that are worth your time and effort and those are the employers you really want to be working with in the long term. You may have to prepare an additional 10-20 job applications but don’t sell yourself short. Follow all the other oDesk tips here and even without the feedback and experience, you can demand good wages.

oDesk Tip-5: Read the Complete Job Description

Different jobs have different requirements and it is very important to read the full job description before you decide to apply for it. Of late, many employers ask the freelancers to include a certain word or phrase in their cover letter, just to make sure they have read the full posting. I personally don’t like this a lot but many employers stand by this tactic to weed out the applicants. If you fail to mention that word or phrase, they will not even read your entire cover letter and you are simply rejected.

Also, reading the complete job description helps you prepare the right cover letter which is very important and discussed next.

oDesk Tip 6: Write Customized Cover Letters

As with traditional jobs, a cover letter can make or break the application. It is very important that you read and understand the full job description and know what skills are required. If you think you are suitable for the job, apply with a customized cover letter. The employer should see that you have read the full posting. Mention a point or two that he has written in the job opening description. Show your previous experience as relevant to what the job demands.

It is very common, especially for people new to oDesk, to simply make a general cover letter and post it for every job posting. This is a completely unprofessional and wrong way of approaching a freelancing job or career. Customized cover letters show you are genuinely interested in the job. And make no mistake, it is very easy to spot a general cover letter which is written for every post in the category and not specifically for the job at hand.

oDesk Tip-7: Maintain a Good, Long Term Relationship

This is a tip for the long term, which is very important. Today, I hardly look for new assignments at oDesk because I work with my previous clients with whom I have worked for long. Really long. It should be the same in your case as well. Once an assignment is completed, if you go over and beyond what was initially expected, not only will you get a great feedback but you will also get the future assignments.

Starting out on a freelancing career can be challenging but if you follow these oDesk tips and be serious about committing to freelancing, you can live off it and make a great career. You will find a lot of success stories at oDesk where contractors have successfully quit their day job and now work full time, freelancing at oDesk.

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