Job List competition is fierce. More than 1,100 subscribers receive every post, and many of these qualified professionals respond to each one. With this deluge of applicants, posters must review a mountain of information, often in a short period of time. And they are under no obligation to respond to all applications.
Several subscribers have asked how they might increase their chances of success. I responded with the following tips.
Reply quicklyA poster is more likely to review your reply carefully if it's at the top of the stack.
Include a descriptive subject line
The subject line should refer to the specific job for which you are applying (e.g., "RE: freelance copy editor, Major Magazine" or "RE: in-house copywriter, Ad Agency").
Include the original post
Copy the original post (after deleting the listserver information at the bottom) and tack it on to the end of your reply. Respond to it point by point if warranted. Also, this may be helpful to the poster, who may not remember the exact details (especially if he or she posts multiple jobs).
Keep your reply succinct
Mention only the background information relevant to the job. If a poster wants more, he or she will ask for it.
Include anything that might make you stand out from other applicants. Many posts come from those outside the industry, so whenever possible link yourself to something they might recognize, such as trade books or magazines, publications in their field(s), and so forth.
Indicate that further information is at the ready
Unless a resume, CV, or list of references is requested in your reply, it's probably best not to send it up front. Many people trash messages with attachments from people they don't know.
If a job listing gives a Web address, visit it for information you can use to customize your response. If it doesn't, but it gives a unique e-mail address—such as firstname.lastname@example.org—you can often find the poster's website by using the domain name: www.publishinghouse.com. If the listing gives a phone number, call it. But respect a poster's wishes regarding communication—if they only provide an e-mail address, chances are they don't want to be called. Send follow-up e-mails.
If you notice the same company or individual posting a number of similar jobs, you might try to get in touch with the poster directly (via snail mail and including your resume, etc.) to see if you can become a freelancer-of-record. And if posters notice that you regularly reply to their bait, they might be more inclined to give you a shot.
Try different approaches
Remember, all it takes is one bite and the Job List fee (as well as the EFA membership) has paid for itself and then some. I've landed but one job from the Job List myself, and it paid for two years' worth of membership benefits. Incidentally, I didn't get that first job until after about six months of steady applications.
By Tim Holsopple Holsopple was EFA Job List co-chair and owner of manateeBound Publishing, an editorial services company and small press.
This article is reprinted with permission from the May-June 2006 issue of The Freelancer, EFA's bimonthly newsletter.