If you’re stepping away from the full time office grind (or you’ve decided to skip that option from the beginning), and you’re embarking on the risky but highly rewarding life of an independent contractor, you’re not alone. In the years following the great recession, a growing number of workers have lost their patience with the traditional nine to five relationship between employer and employee. The security and stability once promised by this model have dried up, and many talented artists, tech pros, designers, writers, and service providers have decided to hit the road and rely on their own hard work and ingenuity instead of the support of a single employer.
This lifestyle is full of surprises, and some ingenuity and problem solving skill will help you tackle the challenges that lie ahead. But in addition to your native wits, you’ll also need a strong cover letter. Here are a few ways you can use your letter to set yourself apart from the crowd and attract new business.
1. Address both the general and the specific.
Start with the general. Make sure your potential employers know that you understand all the broad aspects of your business. Make it clear that you speak the lingo, you’ve dealt with wide range of clients with widely varying needs, and the gig in question is by no means your first rodeo. Even if you just started freelancing during the past year and your experience is limited, make the most of what you have.
2. Highlight your narrow areas of unique skill.
After you’ve made it clear that you hold a broad range of general skill sets, emphasize the very specific talents this client needs, and how you’re the perfect person to supply those talents. Yes, you’re an excellent and experienced graphic artist…but this client needs someone who can draw a dragon. And not just any dragon, a very specific type of dragon. So provide some reassurance and let him know that dragons are your specialty.
3. Cultivate trust.
Most of the time, when employers hire a freelancer to complete a short or long term task, their greatest concerns are related to skill level and reliability. They want someone who can execute the job according to their specific vision, and they want someone who won’t disappear before the work is done. This requires a great deal of faith and risk, so respect that your employers are looking for someone they can trust. Write well, state your claims with confidence, and believe in yourself and your own abilities—if you believe that you can deliver what’s asked of you, your employers will too.
4. Emphasize that you’re always ready to learn new things.
Employers who hire freelancers often have a secondary fear that guides their hiring decisions: rigidity. If your previous projects don’t resemble exactly what these employers have in mind, show that you’re willing to step outside of your groove and learn new things—not just today, but always.
Support Your Letter with a Strong Resume
A great cover letter will only accomplish so much by itself. So make sure your application also includes a detailed, beautifully formatted resume. Visit LiveCareer for resume and cover letter building tools that can help you launch your off-the-grid career.