I’ve been doing some thinking about cover letters for freelancers and how the hiring process can be different from getting a job in the brick-and-mortar world. Some clients do through an interview process, either by phone or e-mail, before they decide whether to hire you, but for others, the way you present yourself in your cover letter is your only opportunity to provide the answer to the question, “Why should I hire you?”
To be honest, I’m not disappointed to skip the interview process. I don’t miss having to answer questions like “What is your biggest strength?” (I work hard) and “What is your greatest weakness?” (I work too hard.) If you are going to be working off site, you also don’t run into a situation where in answer to the question, “Don’t you want to ask me something about my qualifications?”, the answer is “With your legs, I don’t need to.” (No, that didn’t happen to me, but it did happen to someone I went to college with when she was interviewing for her first job after graduation.)
Given that finding freelance writing work is different, I’d like to suggest an alternative to the traditional cover letter: the Cover/Interview Letter.
It would include the elements of a traditional cover letter but with more detail about who you are and what level of service the client will get if they hire you. You could add a paragraph or two talking about your:
- Ability to follow instructions
- Eye for detail
- Flexibility Reliability
- Work ethic in general
This may be your only chance to dazzle the prospective client. If there is something you can share that you think would be relevant to the client, add it. I don’t mean hit them over the head with how great a candidate you are (unless the Cave Man approach happens to fit in with your personal style), but picture what you would like to say to the prospective client if you had the chance to sit down in a room with him or her. Whatever your answer is, include it in your cover letter. That way, you know you have covered all your bases when looking for freelance writing work.
Have you beefed up your cover letter to include extra information for your client? How did this strategy work for you?