Applying for a project? Here’s how to stand out from the crowd and win more

The world is seeing a significant rise in the number of professionals making a shift to independent consulting/freelancing. This means the competition for seeking out new projects is fiercer than ever. As an independent, clenching new jobs is the key to building relationships with potential ongoing clients, garnering more referrals, and expanding your portfolio of work and business.

Here’s how you can be sure that your pitch or proposal stands out from the sea of other applicants:

  • Customize your proposal to the tee

One mistake many independents make is to develop a standardized response to project applications, usually based on language that has helped them to successfully close business before. While utilizing some consistent language and phrases is smart, copy and pasting your project applications or proposals is not.

Read the project description closely, and tailor your response to what is specifically asked for in language that demonstrates that you’ve been paying close attention to the project needs.

Clients seeking independents place great value on communication. A considerable part of that is careful reading and listening! Remember, be direct, clear, and succinct in your proposal as well. When done right, proposals will get you the dream job or client. Additionally, remember that if someone is hiring an independent, they want someone who can manage themselves effectively. Be clear, direct, highlight what you’ll do to solve the problem on behalf of the client, and don’t waste time on overly flowery language or an endless list of your previous accomplishments.

For more on ideal proposals, check out our guide (free editable templates included) here: https://outsized.com/insights/article/guide-to-writing-great-proposals/

  • Power up with relevant experience in similar projects

Often, project descriptions will include requests for applicants to describe similar projects or relevant experiences. Even in the event that you come across a project application that doesn’t include that question, be sure to mention similar projects you have completed or your background or experience working with clients in similar industries. Highlight how your experiences prepare you to produce quality work on this particular project.

  • Highlight your hustle

Clients seeking consultants generally need independent-minded professionals who can get the job done quickly, efficiently, and with minimal direction and input on their part.

Demonstrate your ability to get the job done right by asking relevant questions upfront, offering a realistic timeline, and highlighting your drive for success.

When you spend time demonstrating your understanding of the client’s needs in preliminary discussion, you’re building a relationship of trust and a foundation of good communication, allowing the client to see that you are more than willing to go the extra mile. This also sets you up for success should you win the project, as you’ll be prepared with a more detailed project plan and approach going in.

  • Don’t be a shrinking violet

Being bold is a big part of catching the eye of someone whose job is to comb through a pile of responses and applicants for a position or project. It’s uncommon to find someone with the exact experience they’re looking for or the “ideal” candidate.

You can absolutely submit an application for a project for which you may not be an exact match if you feel confident that you can use the experience you do have to the client’s benefit.

Don’t skip out on opportunities to grow and level up your skill sets.

Want to go even bolder? Add a tech component to your submission by including a video introduction or a link to your website where your portfolio resides – having a quality website with eye-catching examples of your previous work can launch you miles ahead of the competition even if you’re not an exact match for the job.

Don’t have a website yet? Read these articles before you get one:

Overall, if you make a point of following these recommendations when submitting proposals for consulting/freelance projects, your application will be less likely to end up on the bottom of the pile. You’ve got this!

Even if you’re feeling a bit apprehensive, stretch yourself and pursue some projects that might be slightly out of your comfort zone if you believe you’re capable. It’s rare for projects to be an exact match to your experiences; still, if you’ve worked on something similar or comparable, you might just be able to take on something new!