Poorly thought-out and presented responses to job or freelance requests waste everyone's time, increase the cost of searching for employees or contractors, and can easily create emotions for the client that are less than desirable. I find that about 90% of the responses I receive address few if any of the requirements for the position. It's like I wrote no requirements. Most of the remaining 10% don't address or meet all of the requirements with their submissions, CV's, written explanations in the email, and links to their online portfolios, but come close enough that I have a reasonable basis for evaluation. Only about 1% get it right. This is my experience with online advertising and traditional staffing for the past 30 years in business in various U.S. states and countries. Hiring through agencies, although expensive, is usually cheaper for the employer because the agencies force applicants to be properly prepared and perform much of the due diligence business function. Below are some guidelines for searching for jobs as a contractor or employee:

Respond to the request for services.

Respond to every requirement or issue that the employer or client puts in their advertisement! Freelancers are terrible at doing this.

Be reliable and communicate:

A common problem with both employees and contractors is that they will work on projects without often explaining their progress to the employer or client. Employers usually hate silence for long periods of time. Short little messages about progress and problems encountered is critical if the client is going to manage the project well and meet deadlines.

Reliability is critical. "Show up" for work on time even in an online environment by emailing or IM'ing the client with some little message that you are working on their assignment or that you have another client's project to do that day. If you "disappear" for a while without informing the client this will create negative emotions and doubt in the client/employer. They will start looking for other sources and should.

Define your value proposition to your clients:

Your "value proposition", an advanced business term, is the stream of benefits you deliver to your employer or client. When a client is evaluating your application with their "due diligence" process you need to have your "pitch" and "validation" of your work available to them quickly.

A pitch could be that you just won a professional award for you work. It could be that you do great work and very inexpensive. It could be that you do the first job for free. Another idea is that you had an important part on a major project that everyone would know about. If you want to compete in our world-wide market you need to have a pitch that makes you a little different, that quickly addresses client's needs, and that makes sense in the language you will communicate with. It is very, very, hard to develop a pitch and you should research the topic with an online search.

At one time just location was the best pitch. If you were the only one with the skills in your city then you would probably get the work. That value proposition is fading fast!

Develop your pitch to quickly attract attention:

Your pitch should be in your response, usually be email now, and it should quickly get their attention. It should also be on your portfolio Web site and even on your resume / CV. It must be no more than two sentences or about 25 English words.