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The toughest time to get a job on Upwork is when you’re just starting and you don’t have any experience. However, even after you get positive reviews and rack up the hours, the next challenge is getting a job that you don’t have any experience with. For example, you do social media management and you work with Facebook. If you want to get into Twitter, you might find it hard to get people to hire you if you don’t have any positive client reviews.

In this article I’m going to tackle that problem, and show you how I was able to get a fantastic job that, according to the description, I was under-qualified for. After that example, I’ll go on to list five tips that you can use when you’re applying for new jobs which you don’t have experience with. Let’s get started!

I’m Not a Copywriter

The job in question stated in the title that I should be a copywriter, and in the description it went on to say that owing to the detailed nature of the project, I should have 5 years experience as a copywriter. While I have 6 years of writing experience, I’ve never written professional copy in my life. With that in mind, this is the proposal that I submitted that allowed me to have the chance to work on a project that I’m thoroughly enjoying!

My Proposal

“Hey, my name is Sam. I’d like to make a suggestion which you are obviously free to take or reject. Break apart this large $8,000 a month project, and assign some of the easier parts of it to me. Or, conversely, let me work on the project with you for a trial month, at half the monthly pay that you’ve suggested here.

Why am I suggesting this?

I’m almost the perfect fit for you, but not 100%. I have a bachelors in psychology, I eat philosophy books for dinner, I live in Brooklyn, and I’ve been writing for five years. But most of it has been SEO articles and web content. So I don’t have the level of experience that you’re looking for. However, I am a solid writer and I’m confident that I can deliver content that lives up to your expectations. In fact I’d love to demonstrate this by working for free for a week. If you think it will work, you can pay me. If not, then we can go our separate ways.

Well that’s my pitch. I’d love to get the chance to work with you, but obviously I’d understand if I’m just not the correct fit.

Have a good day!”

The Response

I submitted this proposal believing there was only a small chance I would hear back from them, because of my lack of experience. However, I was surprised when I got a reply about a week later, and I ultimately got the job. Best of all, I never had to hide anything about myself or my experience. By being fully forthright in my application I was able to speak confidently about exactly what I could and couldn’t do, and I believe that’s part of the reason that I got the job.

In applying for your own jobs for which you don’t believe yourself qualified, here are a few suggestions. Hopefully by following them you’ll find it easier to get more work, and increase your hourly rate as well!

Tips for Applying to Jobs

1. Never lie. If you don’t have experience doing something, don’t lie and say you do. Four times out of five that will lead to a negative result, which can mean receiving bad feedback on your Upwork profile, which is something to be avoided at all costs. Instead, try this.

2. Make an irresistible offer. If you look at my application above, you’ll notice I made it a no-brainer decision for the person who would hire me. I offered to work for free for a week, and I also offered to work at half of their advertised monthly rate.

3. Focus on your strengths. Going back to my first example, if you’re doing well with Facebook management and want to get into Twitter, talk about how well you’re doing with Facebook. Focus on all of the positive results you’re getting and how you’re going to use that experience to be successful on Twitter. You shouldn’t hide your lack of experience, but you also shouldn’t focus on it too much.

4. Consider doing some free work. If you’re really serious about getting work in a certain area, you may want to considering working for free for a while. Regardless of what you do, there’s probably some charity or non-profit that would like your services. For example, in the coming months as I get serious about learning to copywrite, I may contact various non-profits to see if I can write copy for their website. Not only am I helping them out, but I’m gaining positive references and new content to add to my professional website.

5. Take a course. Amazing.com offers great courses, and a thirty day free trial! I can tell you from experience that their courses are incredible and well worth the money. By taking a course you’ll learn a lot about your new field, and you’ll be able to tell potential clients that you have a good idea about what you’re doing.

As always, when applying for a position that you’re not qualified for, you should follow the golden rule. Apply to a lot of jobs. Dozens and dozens, don’t give up. For example, even though I’ve done 41 jobs and have 460 timed hours of work on Upwork, I still only hear back from about every third client. If you’re just starting out that number might be much worse. That’s normal, stick it out! If you want to learn more about writing a good application, check out my popular article: How to Make an Awesome Upwork Application

Having your own website is an invaluable way to market yourself. It’s the 21st century equivalent of a business card. It’s sort of like having a cool Facebook profile, only more professional and you have ultimate control over it. Regardless of the appeal of a large platform like Facebook, you have to accept that someone else will always be in control. At any time they can suspend your account for violating some arcane rule, and there’s little you can do about it. The only reason that will happen with your own website is your failure to pay the hosting fee.

I created this website after reading The Education of Millionaires, a book that I recommend to everyone. Ellsberg suggested registered a domain with your own name and I took him up on his advice. Eighteen months later here we are. But what if you don’t want to write blog posts, does it still make sense to create a website?

Absolutely. Even if you don’t plan to publish content a website can still be your calling card. You can use it to host your resume. If you do freelance work it can be a place for clients to leave reviews. You can use it as a portal to all of your social profiles. If you know nothing about web design it will force you to learn a thing or two. Finally, it will give you control over your image. If you don’t have a website, when someone types your name into Google you’re at the mercy of whatever comes up. Having a website gives you control over your own brand name which is important now, and will be even more important in the future.

Creating a Website from Scratch

Even if you don’t want the hassle of creating a website right now, you should definitely consider doing the bare minimum and registering your domain name. Sites like GoDaddy will let you register a domain name for about $15 per year.

If you’ve done that and you’re feeling adventurous, you can begin the process of creating your own site. There are loads of guides to get you started. Or you can easily go to Upwork and contract the work out. However, I believe that you should give serious thought to designing your own website. It will give you total control over the appearance and you’ll end up learning why things look the way they do. For people just starting out I’ve written the post: 4 Web Design Tips for Beginners. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though, and there’s a nearly unlimited amount of useful information out there on the internet.