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How do we do a "custom cover letter" when the job posting is not very specific?

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Active Member
Emily C Member Since: Nov 14, 2013
1 of 9
I know we aren't supposed to copy and paste our cover letters, but I'm unsure how to customize a cover letter to a job when the job description is something very basic, like "translator needed for ongoing project," and no details are provided as to what we'll be translating, where it will appear, etc. Any advice? Thanks!
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Community Guru
David G Member Since: Oct 6, 2011
2 of 9
When I come across posts like this, I first decide whether I want to work for a client that doesn't bother giving enough information. If I want to apply, I give them a standard letter but also ask a number of questions about the job so I have a better idea of what I'm getting into.
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Marcia M Member Since: Apr 3, 2013
3 of 9
I am not a translator, so things may be different in your field. However, I have never applied to jobs like that unless I was invited. Then, when I have asked the clients for specific details at the interview stage, so I can provide a better estimate of the time and cost, the clients have usually disappeared. I think that they either don't understand what is involved in the job, which can cause problems later, or if it is a fixed price job, by not being clear about what you are supposed to be doing, they are trying to get more work for less money. I find that the best clients are very specific about what they want.
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John B Member Since: Feb 20, 2009
4 of 9
Yes the best clients have great documentation / functional requirements and are very specific. The old never ending fixed price job...had that a few times before when they just keep adding tasks, whilst I worry about my feedback if I say I have done enough work. Many clients disappear once you ask questions I've had that too.
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Jennifer H Member Since: Apr 30, 2012
5 of 9
Never apply to jobs like these, for several reasons. 1. The client either doesn't know anything about the area they need a hire for, or they are just too lazy to write out a detailed job description to find a good candidate. You don't want to deal with either of these, for many reasons that I could write an entire book on. 2. If you don't have specifics, how are you supposed to input a reasonable bid? For example, if a client leaves out what the word count is, how are you supposed to know if their budget will cover your time worked? Just last night, I broke my own rule of not applying to jobs like these, when a certain subject caught my attention and I applied. The job posting made the project sound like one article for $30, but when I got a message back saying the company would like to hire me for a 5-7k word guide, I had to decline because $30 would never cover that amount of work. Vague posts will only waste your time in the end. 3. It's easier for clients to scam contractors with job postings like this, because the descriptions are so vague. This leaves a huge amount of room at the end of the contract for clients to say they were unsatisfied with something, ask for a refund, or refuse to pay if it was a fixed price contract. I'm not saying all clients who write descriptions like this do that, but it creates the opportunity to do so and you don't ever want to mess with that. But you can weed out your chances of getting the clients like that by applying to jobs that give all the details. Good clients always write a description that tells the contractor everything they need to know to bid correctly.
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Jason M Member Since: Nov 17, 2013
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How can i found a freelancer to desigh a image for my website for me? **** *[Removed by Admin]
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Donna D Member Since: Mar 20, 2013
7 of 9
I ask a lot of questions in the cover letter. I also put my rate per word if it's a fixed price job and say that whatever I bid is just a placeholder and that I will provide my quote once I know how many words there are. I don't pass up jobs with vague descriptions. Sometimes the client may not be so confident posting in English. In my case, if the client has a Japanese name or is in Japan, I write my cover letter in Japanese and English. When they reply in Japanese, all the details come out. I also have a long-running job posted by a client with just two sentences in the original job description, even though he is very fluent in English. I applied despite the lack of details and we're still working together, and he and his company are just wonderful. When a client does not answer my questions or still answers vaguely, that's when I walk away.
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Community Guru
Marcia M Member Since: Apr 3, 2013
8 of 9
What do you put for your original bid if it is just a placeholder? I assume that clients may filter applications by bid rate before even looking at cover letters.
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Donna D Member Since: Mar 20, 2013
9 of 9
I bid exactly what their budget is. Usually too in Japanese translation there are only a few applicants, so I think the clients look at all of the applications. Jobs that have a lot of applicants are mostly client-initiated.
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