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We all had to start somewhere, and when it comes to Consult O'clock and other online employment platforms like Elance and Guru.com that can mean being on the back foot. With so much competition, it can be a hard task to secure your first job and that all important positive feedback you need to demonstrate your ability and trustworthiness to future employers.
As both a consultant and an employer of consultants, my experience has been from both sides of the fence. If you’re new to the platform and feel like you’re bashing your head against the brick wall, check out my top tips for new consultants which might just help you turn things around.
1. Complete your profile
People hire people, so spend some time getting your profile right. Use a real photo, and list your work experience as well as qualifications. Include some of your aspirations for the future and inject a little personality to help you stand out from the crowd. And for goodness sake, spellcheck your work, particularly if you are a business plan writer!
2. Be quick
Whatever sector you are consulting in, you’ll find projects are posted regularly and it really does pay to be an early proposer when it comes to getting a job. As an employer, I will usually receive 10 – 15 job applications within a couple of hours of posting a job. By the following day there may be as many as 30 or 40, and the attention to the detail of each proposal really does begin to wane after the first couple of dozen.
3. Be specific
With lots of job applications to look through, employers will be more likely to take notice of you if your proposal stands out from the crowd. Avoid the dreaded cut and paste at all costs, as it’s pretty obvious to your employer when you’ve done this and is likely to see your proposal rejected quick-smart. Relate your experience to their needs, and your skills to their project brief. Remember the FAB – Features and Benefits; it’s all very well saying you worked for a blue chip company on their social marketing strategy, but unless you tell the client how this is directly beneficial to their particular project, you might as well have said you’re the queen’s second cousin.
4. Price it right
Getting the price right doesn’t mean working for peanuts. Good employers will know that for peanut pay they only get monkeys, so if they are looking for a decent, qualified consultant they will already have a price in mind, and are likely to reject proposals that are not in line with this in either direction. If you aren’t sure about pricing, see what other consultants in your sector are working on, or get on the Consult O'clock forum and ask away in there.
5. Get some experience
Proposals with links to web based work examples or attached files of samples are always more attractive than those without, so, even if you are new to consulting, it is a good idea to get some (paid or unpaid) experience outside of Consult O'clock. If you are a business plan expert, start your own blog. If you are a web designer, make yourself a website. Get some real hands on experience of practicing your skill, as it will not only make you more employable but will also give you a chance to really show what you can do.
The crucial tip
The absolutely most important piece of advice I can give any budding consultant is DON’T GIVE UP! I am sure wherever you fill job 'bids' you will suffer rejection time and time again. Remember, you can always take a very tedious data entry job for not very much money, just to get that all important first feedback.
The good news is that, once the feedback is there on your profile, it will be much easier to secure a second and third job. Getting your first job on Consult O'clock is not so much to do with your competence or the number of years you’ve spent training in your specialism. It is more about your tenacity, your ability to think outside the box and your relentless determination to succeed… all of which you’ll need to have if you are to succeed as a consultant at all.
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