“How do you find jobs?” This is one of the most common questions I hear after I tell someone that I’m an online freelancer. My answer to this question is varied. Most of the time, new clients find my website or hear about me through referrals. This is often the best way for me to get new jobs, because it requires little effort on my part. But I can’t depend on this approach alone.
It may be alright to wait for leads to find our professional sites and contact us, but there are some cases where this isn’t enough. Other times, we have to actively scour the web for new jobs. After 5 years of online job hunting, I eventually developed my own system that requires minimal effort and time – a necessary ingredient if you don’t want your job hunt to mess up the jobs you already have.
Identify how much extra time you have
Before you go on your job search, it’s important to have a concrete idea about the number of hours per week you can devote to an extra job. This number will always be changing, so you should keep it where it’s accessible and can easily be edited. You could stick a post-it on your monitor, place a virtual note on your desktop, or write this number in a corner on your whiteboard.
Know where to look for jobs
If there are specific websites where you look for job ads, make sure to bookmark or list them. Whenever you have free time, all you have to do is turn to this list and approach the job hunt systematically.
Don’t forget to look at offline ads as well. Many businesses that need the expertise of freelancers, especially if they’re new to internet technologies, will be using offline methods such as newspaper classifieds to advertise their needs.
Automate what you can
Although there are some cases where visiting actual job boards can help, there are several ways for you to automate your job search. For example, I set up Google Alerts for the phrase “Write for us”, so that I can be notified when websites and blogs call for submissions from writers. Other alternative key phrases could be “writer needed” or “looking for writer”. Just replace “writer” with whatever your job title is, and you can receive alerts every time someone posts a relevant job ad on the web.
I also have ready templates for cover letters and emails I can send to potential clients. There are templates for informal applications, such as jobs where the approach to work seems more fun and laid back. I also have templates for formal job applications where I apply as a writer for businesses with a more traditional and strict approach. Include in your templates the common elements of your cover letters, such as a brief description of your background and your contact information.
Just remember that even if you use templates, make sure to customize them a bit. Nothing says “I’m unoriginal and won’t stand out” than an email that starts with “To Whom it May Concern”. Do the research on who you should address the email to and how you should approach them.
Record your actions
It’s also important to note what jobs you applied to, the contact information of the people concerned, and any response they give you.
Hunting for a few extra projects to work on doesn’t have to eat up your time, especially if you’re already booked for a few commitments. By becoming more efficient with job hunting, you’ll spend more effort on the jobs themselves rather than the task of finding them.
How do you make your online job hunt more efficient? How much time do you spend actively looking for online work? Which method works best for you?