Additional Cover Letter Tips for oDesk Contractors

thread on the oDesk forums dated August 15 caused quite a stir in the Coffee Break section—a thread that actually felt more like a breather than those stressful topics about low wages and scrupulous employers.

The thread was created by a regular employer and contractor on the site, and she was looking for a person with blogging experience and posted a job stating this and a couple of other requirements.  The responses she got after posting that job were hilarious!

One contractor told her that he had over 5,000 logged hours on 6 oDesk accounts (which is a violation of the identity policy) and another attached PLR articles as his “sample work” that weren’t his to begin with.
There was another who said he didn’t have any blogging experience but was willing to learn while another just posted in his cover letter, “I can do your work.”  The last one, according to her, didn’t have any samples, resume, or anything in his profile!

Cover Letters are Taken for Granted

Though the topic’s a breath of fresh air after being immersed in a lot of sad talk of desperation and hopelessness, this is still very alarming.
It just goes to show that a lot of contractors on oDesk don’t really know how to proceed with their job applications. They’d write cover letters and attach “samples”,thinking that what they’re doing is correct or enough to get the employer’s attention.
The funny thing is that there are A LOT of articles and blog posts that have tips and helpful advice on how to write a great cover letter.  It’s either these contractors have skipped the basics and jumped into hot water already, or they simply didn’t know how to apply those tips to their own efforts of writing a cover letter.

Putting Effort in Your Cover Letters

I’m not going to repeat what these professionals have said about writing cover letters, but I will emphasize and re-emphasize on the importance of putting effort into one’s cover letter.
You can’t expect jobs to fall from the sky; you can’t just sit and wait for them to knock on your door too. What you need to do is to show your clients that you know what they are looking for and you got the skills they need to make it happen.

If you have never written a cover letter before, you can start by reading the tips and advice of oDesk and other seasoned freelancers:

·         Erica Benton, editor-in-chief of the oDesk blog, shares her tips with a post entitled “How to Write a Cover Letter”.

·         Jacqueline Pittenger, the moderator of the oDesk community forums, posted the September 2008 newsletter with an article entitledWriting a Killer Cover Letter”.

·         In the oDesk Help Center, this section will tell you what you need to include and what you cannot put in your cover letter when applying for jobs.

·         Technical and academic writer Martyn Shuttleworth writes a complete hubpage about cover letters and interviews on oDesk.  He is also an oDesk contractor.

·         Danalyn wrote a article about writing cover letters, including a checklist of what you’ll need when drafting one and a sample template of what a good cover letter would look like.

Additional Cover Letter Tips

I, on the other hand, will share cover letter tips that aren’t the step-by-step kind that these people have already done.
These tips will more or less enhance your cover letters, enabling you to really take hold of your full potential in grabbing the clients by the collar and making them face you with respect and interest:

Show some personality.  Don’t be afraid to be creative, humorous, and witty in your cover letter.  Not only will your personality make you stand out, but this gets rid of the generic tone of voice most cover letters are usually sick with.

·         Never fail to mention details about the job description.  Clients who see that you’ve taken the time to read their job description will feel at ease with you since you took the time to read through his job ad.  They can already get a good feel of your reliability and responsibility by your mentioning about their website or the roles they’ve listed down in your cover letter.

·         Ask questions.  You will encounter job posts that are empty of further details, but if you’re still interested in applying for them just include a couple of questions about the job like what the client’s niche is about or if they have a sample website that they’d like you to use as a guide.  These questions will help give you a better idea of what the work will entail.

·         Give them an estimated quote/price range and what’s included.  Aside from the bid that you placed in your job application, this quote gives them an idea of how much work will be included in the price and if it’s reasonable or not.  This allows you to bid any price that you see fit since you have explanations to back you up.

·         Give links instead of attachments.  You wouldn’t want the clients to just download your samples and walk away now, would you?  To prevent this, just give links to your blog or your website despite them asking for attached samples.

·         Tell them to email you through oDesk. Since you’re not allowed to leave contact details (telephone numbers, email addresses, and instant messenger IDs) in your cover letter, you can just tell them to message you via the oDesk messaging system.  Make sure to enable forwarding of oDesk messages to your personal email account.
Your cover letter will either win you the job or a rejection email from the client, so whatever you do, don’t take these cover letters for granted.