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Tanya Mykhaylychenko

Job Application Process for Freelancers

Freelance Job Application
Freelance Job Application
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“Freelancing In America,” a study of the independent workforce, is now in its seventh year. While it doesn’t offer statistics about editors, the 2019 report confirms that 50 per cent of freelancers (57 million workers) consider it a long-term career.

As freelance editors, we are aware of competition, industry and technology trends in our target markets, and collegial networks for mutual support and professional development.

An effective job application package is one that shows our target client that we understand their unique needs, have the tools and experience to meet those needs, and are able to articulate this clearly in concise documents.

Resume and cover letter

1. In your resume, skip the general, self-evident duties and go straight to the specifics: details about specializations, genres, types of clients, types of documents you edit, style manuals and software, and specialist knowledge of certain topics or industries. Be clear about the scope: indicate a one-time project, an ongoing part-time contract, or a full-time engagement. Add numbers to quantify your achievements and scope of work. 

2. Write cover letters from scratch, focusing on three to four requirements from each job description. Address each requirement in a new paragraph and keep the paragraphs short.  

Job application process

1. Keep a list of all your target roles. As a freelancer, you likely have more than one job title. List keywords in advance to help you make effective searches. For example, if you’re looking for work in language testing, search for:

  • item writer
  • assessment writer
  • essay scorer
  • essay grader
  • essay evaluator

You will certainly remember these titles when in job search mode; keeping them all in one file can expedite a job search.

2. Know your editorial niches and their standards.

3. Keep a list of employers to freelance for. You can collect ideas by:

  • looking at conference sponsor lists
  • reading professional association job boards
  • subscribing to email alerts for job ads
  • reading business and industry news to identify potential clients
  • attending local Chamber of Commerce or community events and employment fairs
  • following company pages on social media

4. List the characteristics, problems, needs, and behaviors of your target companies or client groups. Identify your core skills and qualifications for each group. Prepare a separate copy of your resume or a flyer to cater to their needs. Draft brief cold emails and invite the hiring team to view your flyer, website, or LinkedIn profile. Different readers prefer different platforms when choosing freelancers.

5. Be findable online. Choose platforms for your online presence based on where your target clients are, such as:

Make sure your branding is consistent. Update your profiles regularly for Google to index them as fresh pages. Use your email signature as a marketing tool and a way to direct your clients to your online presence.

6. On a case-by-case basis, find ways to follow up. For example:

  • contact decision-makers via LinkedIn
  • send a message reiterating how you can help the client
  • request a brief informational interview, if appropriate

What have been the most effective job application strategies in your experience?


The Editors’ Weekly is the official blog of Editors Canada. Contact us.

4 Comments on “Job Application Process for Freelancers”

  • Tanya, this is an incredibly helpful synopsis of what it takes to find work as a freelancer. I’ve had success with some of these strategies already. Now, I’ll try the rest of your suggestions, too. Thank you!

    • Tanya Mykhaylychenko


      Thank you, Rosemary!

  • Anita Jenkins


    Showing my age, again. (Retired for ten years.) I worked freelance for about 30 years, quite successfully, and I never did a “job application.” And seldom one of those dreadful Requests for Proposals either. And most of the time my resume was either lost or dreadfully out of date.

    I did what people are now calling gigs. Someone in my network would call me and say, “Get your bum over here.”

    One of the reasons I so loved being freelance was what is now referred to as the gig economy. No “boss” – just 7 or 8 at a time, LOL. The opportunity to “fire” a client and still be working.

    I also loved being called a freelancer. There was an article on this blog a while ago about the word “freelance” becoming questionable.

  • Tim Green


    “Use your email signature as a marketing tool and a way to direct your clients to your online presence.”

    Yes! That also means advertising (flaunting!) an email address that matches the domain name of your website, not a gmail or hotmail account. If you own the domain, you should be able without cost and only one-time minor hassle arrange to have email to you at your domain forwarded to your gmail or hotmail account if you really insist on using those. Otherwise, you can generally get a real email account at your domain name hosted by the same people who host your website.

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