10 Tips For Landing A Freelance Transcription Job

By Tyler Marshall for Allegis Transcriptionist

Freelance transcription jobs can provide a great deal of freedom (you can work from home!) and economic opportunity. That is IF you’re a skilled transcriber and if you know how to market yourself effectively.

Wherever you’re at in your transcription career, we’ve compiled our top 10 tips for landing your next work-from-home transcription job. Enjoy!

Review Social and Professional Profiles Before Applying

This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people get this wrong. Transcription companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, which means—you guessed it—they’ll be checking your social profiles.

You need to have a profile picture that looks professional. It doesn’t need to be a professional headshot, just professional in attire, setting, and pose. I use a picture of myself in a suit, overlooking Portland, Oregon’s skyline. Profile pictures are something recruiters expect. It’s okay to be quirky, but here’s where your friends and family can be a big help. Get their opinion on everything from your head shot to the information you include in your profile; they’ll notice things you may have missed.

Other social media tips are:

– Take a look at your other social profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) too. It’s always a good idea to keep them clean, professional, and beyond reproach. It’s also a good idea to lock down your privacy settings. Remember that with Facebook, even if you use their strongest privacy settings, your profile and cover picture are still visible to everyone.

– In general, be very careful what you say online. Digital never dies. It’s never a good idea to trash a vendor you previously transcribed for. It’s okay to warn your peers of vendors with poor business practices or unfair treatment, but do so in as professional a manner as possible.

Now that your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts are up-to-date, reviewed by others, and free of embarrassing photos, you’re now ready to start engaging with transcription companies online.

Actually HAVE a Social Media Presence

My previous point brings me to this one. While not an absolute must, if you’re going to stand out to potential transcription employers, you need to have an online, social presence. It’s not just for kids anymore.

I know that for me, joining Twitter was like pulling teeth. I rolled my eyes at the thought of “tweeting.” Over the past several months I’ve made an effort to learn the platform, and there’s a whole host of valuable information I was missing out on.

Be Honest with Yourself. Are You Truly A Good Fit?

You are interviewing potential employers just as much as they are interviewing you. Be honest with yourself when reviewing transcription job descriptions.

I know this is an area I’ve struggled with before. I’ve let worry get the best of me and taken the first job that I could find. Can you guess how that worked out? Not too well.

If a contract requires online transcribing work that’s brutal for you to work through, (maybe you hate transcribing police reports and the gory details are just too much) you won’t be happy. Your productivity will suffer, and before you know it, you’ll be hunting for another job.

I use the “gut check” method when applying for work positions. After reading through a job posting, if I feel uneasy about applying, I don’t. Find a gig where you can do your best work.

Tailor Your Resume to The Transcription Job You Want

I know it can feel limiting to only talk about your online transcription experience when you previously ran an eBay business, did consulting work, or worked as an insurance adjuster. I have news for you, when it comes to your resume, you’re going to have to let go of that way of thinking. By including too much information, you’re hurting yourself.

Several years ago I applied for a job in sales and another in accounting. I have relevant experience in both fields, but the resumes I created for my interviews in each area looked very different.

Focus on elaborating on work experience related to the work-from-home transcription position you’re applying for. Then, selectively include other, relevant information. For instance, if you were a professional copywriter for five years before transcribing, that’s a detail you should include because there’s significant skill overlap.

Pay Attention to the Transcription Company’s Needs

Find out why the transcription company is looking for freelancers. The answer isn’t always as obvious as you might think.

Often you won’t have any idea why a company is hiring. But if you do know the impetus behind a hiring burst, you might be able to better position yourself as a candidate. Do some sleuthing before firing off an email. See if you can find out what the driving force is for hiring. If you learn that a transcription vendor needs to quickly increase headcount, emphasize your ability to get up to speed quickly without requiring supervision.

Pay Attention to Detail and Be Self-Sufficient

Attention to detail and self-sufficiency are crucial skills in the general transcription field—particularly within insurance transcription, which is strict verbatim.

Working remotely from home necessitates a strong ability to problem solve independently. I can tell you from experience that there’s nothing worse than receiving an email from an applicant, asking questions that we clearly address in our online application materials.

This is not to say that you should never ask questions throughout the application process. Sometimes questions are warranted, and if you’ve thoroughly reviewed all application materials and questions remain, then ask. A well-thought-out question can demonstrate your attention to detail.

Self-sufficiency also applies to filling out applications and submitting materials. A transcription company’s Resources Director suggests, “Just as when you are transcribing, use the internet and other resources during the application process to make sure every detail is in place, such as commas and proper name spelling.”

The takeaway here is to demonstrate careful attention to detail and operate independently. Show us you have these skills and you’ll have our attention.

Save Your Application Data

This is more of a housekeeping item, but get to know the applicant tracking system you’ll be using to submit your transcription job application.

Some systems automatically save your data as you fill out your information, others allow you to manually save each page, and still others require you to complete the entire application (usually within a set time period) before saving. It’s not rocket science, but again, take the time to familiarize yourself with the system you’ll be using.

Luckily we have a relatively user-friendly system in place. I’ve had to deal with some nightmare online job application systems that had me tearing my hair out after I lost an hour’s worth of effort. I’ve learned that when in doubt, hit “save.”

Also, another tip here, careful with the “submit” button. Make sure you don’t accidentally submit an application. Every application system has a different design, and I’ve come close to accidentally submitting an incomplete application (and I know several people who’ve made this embarrassing mistake).

Understand Any Financial Investments You’ll Need to Make

As a freelance transcriptionist, you might have to make financial investments beyond a foot pedal, headphones, and computer.

For instance, you’ll want to ask about any software licensing costs. Transcription management systems can be expensive and often licensed on a per user basis. It depends on the company, but you’ll find some that cover the licensing costs, others that have you pay the licensing fees, and still others require you stay with them for a set period before covering the licensing cost.

Also, it’s quite common for a contractor to require you to cover the cost of a background check. Companies requiring this typically have large clients (insurers for example) who insist on the checks.

Be Positive

When completing that online transcription job application, answer questions in a positive, upbeat manner. Certain words convey negativity, which is exactly the opposite of what you want your prospective employer to feel.

For example, if asked what you like least about work, don’t use words like “hate,” “couldn’t stand,” or “despised” even if that is how you truly felt. Keep those thoughts to yourself. Start your answer by mirroring what the question asks, such as “What is your greatest flaw …” and keep the language as positive as possible.

Positive people perform better in life and they’re more enjoyable to be around. Reflect a positive outlook on life in your resume. Get negative, and risk having your application quickly placed to the side.

Need to work on your outlook? Check out The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. I love this book and it’s left a lasting impact on my life. Happiness is crucial to your success in every area of life. Attitude matters to prospective employers and your attitude carries through in how you fill out your application, in your resume, and in your emails with potential employers.

Match and Proofread Your Application and Resume

Make sure the information on your freelance transcription job application and resume match. Again, this might be basic to some, but I think it’s worth including as a reminder.

For instance, don’t introduce confusion into the process by submitting dates, names, titles, employers, or skills that vary from your resume and application. For example, if you say you worked at Happy Tx Inc. from 2011-2013, your application better not say 2010-2013. Do some cross-checking as you go.

This should also be a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget to proofread before submitting your information. I know I’ve forgotten previously. Just as you should proofread your resume to eliminate spelling, grammar, and information errors, you should also proofread your application before submitting it. After you’ve entered all the information and followed all directions, go back to the beginning of your application and read through it, reviewing it for accuracy and clear content before submitting it.

You Can Land Your Perfect Freelance Transcription Job!

If you’ve made it this far, you likely care about setting yourself for a successful career in transcription and scoring your next work-from-home, online transcription job!

Part of having a successful career is being prepared to transition smoothly when taking on new contracts with new vendors, as necessary. Have your resume ready, a lively online presence, and your skills tuned up. Jobs are out there, especially for motivated individuals like yourself.

So get out there and use the internet to engage with potential employers and evaluate where you fit best. Good luck!