From time to time, I post freelance job listings on various online job boards when I have projects I don't have time for, or just don't want to do. I never cease to be amazed by some of the contents of the emails I receive.SO, as a benefit to people who respond to these online job ads (especially design/digital work ads), here are some things NOT to do/say that might help increase the likeliness you get a reply. Note: All examples below are from responses I received today.
- I don't want to know that you have 10 years experience in HTML and 8 years experience in PHP. Large corporations might want to see these big numbers in a resume, but I can guarantee you that 99% of people posting freelance jobs online don't care.
- Don't start an email with "Dear sir or madam", "Human Resources", "Hiring Manager" or "To whom it may concern". Save this for a printed letter that you send to your cell phone company to dispute your bill. It's far too general for an email and an instant red flag. Use something like "Hey", "Hello", or "Hi there".
- Don't send anything but your best work. In an email I received today, an applicant informed me that he is working on a new portfolio that is "more up to date". Why do I need to know this? If you don't think you can sell me on what you sent me, don't try to upsell yourself by saying you have better work out there. Just update your portfolio before you email me!
- Send me a LINK to your portfolio. If you refer me to "website.com" and it doesn't have a hyperlink, don't count on my copy/pasting the url into my browser. I should be able to click on your link in my email!
- Don't send me a 5 paragraph essay. The most effective emails are short and to the point - 3 lines. Sell me on yourself by showing me how great you are, not by telling me.
- DO NOT link me to a zip file in your email. And don't attach a zip either (or any other sort of attachment, for that matter). The best emails can be read in under 5 seconds before clicking out to a link to check out work. I'm not going to dedicate the time to open a zip file if I'm not already familiar with your caliber of work.
- Don't link me to my original post. Chances are, if the subject of your email relates to my post, I'm going to remember posting it. Adding a link to my posting in an email only tells me that you're replying to so many posts that you want to keep them all straight and add in a link for your reference.
- I don't want to hear from a company. I want to hear from YOU! If you approach me as a representative for a "design firm" with a team of designers, I'll probably delete your email. Unless my post specifically asks for a team with a bunch of overhead or a request for an RFP, I'm most likely looking for one person to come in a tackle a project. Oh, and don't have your personal assistant email me, either. That just tells me you're paying cheap, offshore labor to spam as many people as possible.
- Use proper grammar and not SMS lingo. This is from an email I received: "kindly find my grafix work at [link] and let me know if its wat u r looking for. thx." Just, no.
- Remember where I posted my ad. If I posted an ad on Authentic Jobs, don't contact me "regarding the post on Craigslist." Stuff like this tells me you copy/pasted your form letter and probably didn't read my ad.
- If my post is in English, don't send me your portfolio in another language. 'Nuff said.
I hope I don't sound harsh or critical with these points. But you have to understand that, not only are the people posting these listings probably extremely busy, but they also receive hundreds of these types of emails in a very short amount of time. To get a response, you've really got to stand out. Hopefully these tips will help you get the kind of response that you deserve.