Freelancers' Questions: Can I send a cover letter instead of applying online?

Freelancer’s Question: For being a supposedly reliable, big-name player in my industry, a certain company’s online job application process is surprisingly cumbersome, restrictive and prone to error messages! It’s also very US-centric, asking for my ‘Zip Code’ and ‘GPA.’

Can I just send them a covering letter and CV instead, or would this convey I’m defiant? I fear that applying online in their way won’t let me precisely show who I am and what I do.

Expert’s Answer: This is a bit of a ‘Catch 22’ scenario, but it comes down to how much you want the job.

I could give you a full answer in a webinar I’m running on how to win contract work – effective strategies that all freelancers should know if they want to succeed.

In short though, I would recommend persevering with their online process. However, maybe there’s also the option to upload your CV and a covering letter?

I tend to agree that bypassing their desired process would have a negative outcome. But -- if it’s really becoming time-consuming with error messages and technical issues, then your time might be better spent on other applications?

Regardless of what you end up choosing in terms of the application route, your success will hinge on how strong a business case you have presented in your submissions to the hiring company. My top tips to help you effectively show them ‘who you and what you do,’ are:

  • Make sure you describe yourself as something specific i.e. steer clear of pitching yourself as merely ‘An Experienced Marketing / Media Professional’; the more specific and targeted you can be, the better.
  • Make sure you have captured a value proposition i.e. what value do you offer a company through your knowledge and experience. In other words, what is your USP?!
  • Ensure you focus on the outcomes you have driven for previous companies; these should be statements with tangible and statistical evidence of business benefits.
  • Use case studies to promote your biggest achievements; three on page one written in the STAR formula usually does the trick.

Still after a few extra pointers? For more on winning work-themed advice, my company -- The CV & Interview Advisors -- is hosting a webinar with FreelanceUK’s sister portal ContractorUK, on June 26th at 6.15pm.

This free session will provide you with a raft of highly effective freelance contract-winning strategies. The clue’s in the webinar’s name -- ‘The definitive guide to winning work in the contract market.’ You can find out further details or register here:

The expert was Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors, a consultancy specialising in helping freelance contractors win more work using their CV and LinkedIn profile.


15th June 2018

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