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The Do’s and Don’ts of uploading your resume and cover letter

If you are a new graduate or simply new to online freelance work, your definition of a good resume and a job-landing cover letter might blur. Where you should say more or leave some details untold might not be obvious if you want the job and you want the money.

Good resumes will get your foot in the door. Cover letters will reaffirm your employer’s initial judgement about you. A follow-up interview will usually get you a traditional job, but in the freelance world, it’s really just the proposal and the tenacity of your online profile that will get you hired fast.

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Difference between a resume and a cover letter

A resume is an outline of your professional career in few sub-heads and bullet points. It will tell your employer where you went to school and particularly why your education is relevant to the job you’re applying for if at all. You will also have to list all relevant professional precedence. You don’t have to crowd your resume with jobs and details that are not important for the specific job or freelance job you’re applying for. A good resume is usually no more than 2 solid pages of solid, indispensable information about you. If you are applying for a job or a freelance position in Europe, they will ask you for a CV which is the same as resume in American English.

A cover letter is literally a letter in a traditional letter format. You will address the employer and you will tell them a few important details about yourself and your career as well as your accomplishment to take you seriously for their vacant position or the task to be fulfilled by you-hopefully. A good cover letter should not more than 500-600 words. It should be broken into clear paragraphs. A cover can be a great extension to your resume. This is your chance to elaborate on specific tasks you have undertaken and target results you have achieved for your previous employers. You don’t have to list every achievement as you probably should in your resume.

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How to write a resume as young graduate

If you are a recent graduate, you probably lack a solid professional experience to woo your future employers with. The appropriate length for your resume should not surpass one page. If you have been in multiple extra-curricular activities and can speak of genuine achievements or learning milestones in your internships, make it two pages. The best would be to cherry-pick the details you want to share with your employer. Don’t simply crowd your resume. If you’re applying via an electronic application system, chances are your resume will be filtered and shortlisted. This is a good opportunity to add more keywords that are relevant to the desired job position to increase your chances.

Do always submit your resume in a PDF file. This is the norm. When you’re a recent graduate, education should be first and foremost and then any relevant internships, part-time work or extra-curricular involvement. Do emphasize on your GPA or your local grade average as well as the courses you have taken in school, and the practical skills you do now possess.

Do’s

  1. Quantify all of your accomplishments (how many logos did you design, articles you wrote, events you managed, etc.)
  2. Be very specific about what you did. If you can’t put your tasks in words, simply avoid vagueness or ask for the help of a good colleague who filled the same position.
  3. Look up other resumes for people who had filled your previous positions and your desired one.
  4. Do make a profile with tailored university course selection and tasks carried out of school as well as skills.
  5. Do consider a resume design/template if you think your employers would require so. Several companies and higher institutions require the Europass template to manage conformity between applicants.
  6. Stick to one structure, one chronological order and one order when writing your resume

Don’ts

  1. Don’t lie.
  2. Don’t forget to add crucial information such as the duration of your internships or locations
  3. Don’t mix pronouns and verbs or tenses in your bullet points
  4. Don’t include interests or hobbies except when common hobbies will get you extra score points. You have to know before you gamble.

How to write a good proposal for a Nabbesh job

The best way to land a job on Nabbesh.com is to keep your cover letter or proposal short. Competition is tough. Often, an employer might not look beyond the few lines that will appear in the email or web notifications.

Do upload your resume (in PDF format) to back up your said experience or your solution to the employer’s problem. Start with what you will do for the employer. Include any specificity if needed and then elaborate why you’re fit to do what you say you can do. Past experience is a great proof of skills. Online reference is always the best way to make fast decisions and make the employer hit the “short-list” button or write you a response.

Be very specific about your charges from your second or third paragraph. Don’t write more than you should. Every line should be in direct context to the job you’re applying to, otherwise, do omit it. It’s for your best interest.

Good Luck!

 

Still in school ? Why freelancing NOW is a great idea.

Freelancing is a great professional opportunity for students to start their career early. It is an accessible, compensated opportunity to start planning your career as you’re learning the first basic skills that are relevant to your major or career of interest.

Most majors in universities can lead to numerous career tracks. Starting work early while in school helps students to figure out a few questions they won’t have to answer later. Do I have any particular skills amongst my peers to land a job now? What industry offers me the most opportunities or the highest salary? Which career track is more challenging and suits me or my family? What is my learning curve with this particular job and how likely am I to be promoted in fewer years? All of these questions will have clearer answers once you have started work already.

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Freelancing is a source of income you can re-invest in your education

All of the freelance positions available on freelance job marketplaces, such as UAE’s Nabbesh.com (or نبش) are compensated. You will not work for free. You can re-invest your earned money earned right back into your education. You can take more courses in your specialized field. You can take courses in leading job markets such as IT development or graphic design to land more jobs. You will lead a comfortable and autonomous young student life without exhausting your parents’ income.

Freelancing is both accessible and manageable

Freelance work is manageable alongside  your full-time studies since it is project-based and not hours-bound. As a full-time student, you might not have enough time to take on an internship during the school year. The best summer internships might be very competitive and employers might not take students who lack previous professional experience. Freelance work in your own chosen domain will provide you with the experience you need to land your dream internship. Freelance opportunities are more abundant than part-time jobs because you can work with anybody, any business anywhere. When freelancing, you certainly don’t have to log in a certain number of hours to earn your paycheck. You simply have to finish a job.

Freelance work is easy to reference to online

Most freelance job marketplaces such as Nabbesh’s provides you with a platform to build up your professional profile online, get reviews from previous employers and reference to previous work all in one place. It is a much straightforward, better designed resume than a regular paper resume. Future employers can vet your professional experiences in few clicks instead of awkward phone calls.

Field specialisation

Freelance work gives you the opportunity to specialise. It is better to learn how to excel at one skill or one industry than perform average at a set of unrelated skills. At least, that’s what PayPal’s co-founder, Peter Thiel, thinks. Thiel is a billionaire serial entrepreneur and investor. He knows better. Employers
tend to hire employees who are really good at something. Freelancing will introduce you to a range of different industries and a new set of required skills to fulfill new jobs and challenges. You will learn which job(s) you excel at, which industry interests you the most. You have control.

Building up a professional network

Starting work early helps you build up professional connections. You will connect with both employers and peers in your academic and professional field. Employers are more likely to hire freelancers on extended contracts or full-time positions they have tested on previous work projects. As you progress, you will learn who are the main actors in your chosen field in your local economy and hopefully connect with industry leaders.

Walk the freelancer walk? Nabbesh freelancers talk…

Ever wished you could get into the same elevator with a successful freelancer who has been on the job for  some time and actually survived to tell the tale? Ask them some questions about their experience and possibly receive some advice? Well, Nabbesh just made the chase much easier. We  sat down with three top freelancers* working in the Middle East. Enjoy their ‘ real life’ testimonials!

H.A., Magazine freelancer, based in Beirut, servicing clients in Lebanon and the broader Middle East (15 years)

I’ve been freelancing for about 15 years starting off by mixing it with full or part-timework but eventually going entirely freelance about eight years ago. The best thing is you get to dictate your schedule to a certain extent – take a coffee break, nap, go out, take a day off – these are all decisions you control, and even aspects such as if you want to work entirely in your pajamas from the comfort of your sofa. Yet while freelancing gives you flexibility, you may end up working more than if you were full-time — particularly if you work with clients who think nothing of dumping urgent jobs on you on a Friday evening. This makes it important to maintain a balance between being available and committed to your clients while ensuring you still have a personal life left.

…One of the big lessons to learn is when to say no. In the beginning you might feel like it’s
good to say yes to everything. You will reach a point, though, when you realize the great feeling that comes with saying no. Maybe the trickiest topic for any freelancer is how to gauge how much money to charge – and make sure that you get paid. Be smart in thinking how to secure compensation for your time. Always make sure the client gives you a firm and detailed brief. You will meet a lot of people who want something but don’t know how to express what they want and who are happy to send you off on a wild goose chase to find out, only to tell you when you have done all the work what exactly they had in mind was something altogether different. Your time is not free or limitless. Don’t accept a revised brief without explaining it will cost more.

Starting out on the right foot is the best way to minimize your time involvement and end up with a happy client – which as a freelancer is exactly what you should be aiming at.

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Ramy K., graphic design and digital media freelancer, based in Jordan, servicing clients all over the Middle East and Australia (6 years)

In 2009, I was a graduate student studying in London when I first started helping some of my friends who still hadn’t graduated from university in Jordan. They would ask me to check a digital render, an illustration, weigh in on the choice of font or color, among others. I used to do it free of charge at first. A couple of months later one of my classmates noticed that I always had extra work. She looked at me and said, “You know, it would be great if those people you’re helping could at least buy you the coffee you order every time you come to the coffee shop to look over their projects.”

…It was hard for me to talk to people I knew—my friends—about it. I was surprised that almost all of them welcomed the idea and didn’t mind paying a fee for my services. They even started referring me to professionals in the field such as agency owners. I started a full-time job in 2012. Five months later, I had quit, purchased a new computer and a beautiful, wide desk and transitioned to freelance. I now work not only on small projects but also on large-scale campaigns and commit to long-term contracts.

I would say managing my time, prioritizing tasks, and knowing how to approach a client about suggestions and concerns have been the most challenging skills to acquire and develop, but I’m getting there.

Mehr Farahani, Magazine and technical reports writer, based in Beirut, servicing clients in Saudi Arabia/broader GCC and Europe (3 years)

I am fairly new to the freelance game—I started while based in Beirut in May 2012 after having lived in the West all my life, and I have been doing it full-time up until the present. If it’s done right it can be the best possible way to live: you get to schedule your own time, you can pick and choose what to take on, and you usually end up doing a wide range of work.

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As a freelance writer, I feel like it is very similar to being in grad school — at least in terms of tempo and levels of stress. Despite my best efforts, I find I have to pull a few all-nighters a month just to get through my work. Most other freelancers I speak with have the same problem.

The most challenging thing about not working a 9-5 is being disciplined enough to stick to your deadlines. This requires a great deal of self-motivation and time management skills since you don’t have a boss over your shoulder policing you. If you can do that then working for yourself is the best possible way to live your life. Just remember: with freedom comes responsibility!

 

 

*The real names of the subjects have been replaced with pseudonyms.