Make sure that you’re not making any of the 101 mistakes most applicants in software development jobs commit so they usually end up with no responses.
The problem with your career so far could be that freelancing may be beneficial to your future professional development but there’s often no direct way to showcase it.
In other words, everyone can claim that they are a freelancer. You could have built a static HTML page for a friend 10 years ago and enlisted “freelancing” as a core skill that you’ve been proficient in over the past 10 years.
Also, there’s little to none quality control in freelancing – especially with small businesses that don’t have technical teams, processes, quality requirements, QAs and so forth.
Checking Your Portfolio
Or, for the most part, your portfolio is most likely private (unable to enlist your paid gigs), or not visible (back-end development, server development or anything else that doesn’t showcase your skills). Unless you’ve invested some time in building an open-source portfolio on GitHub, you may seem to look the same way as someone who has just started last week.
That’s especially valid in the “website building” field since quite a lot of site builders specialize in installing WordPress with a premium theme and a bunch of plugins in a matter of 2–4 hours and apply with a long list of dozens of “projects” they have “built”.
On top of that, 2 years aren’t a lot of time. If you haven’t had professional experience in a larger company (or with higher scale clients), you may have inherited a lot of bad practices that are harder to unlearn as compared to learning the ropes from the ground. You may as well be asking for a higher salary than an intern or an entry-level applicant.
Different strategies could be implemented depending on your niche and experience so far. Building an open-source portfolio and a bunch of pet projects is certainly a good start.
Trying to connect with people within a company at conferences or online (instead of directly through the official application form) may work better and give you some feedback accordingly. Assessing your skills against an intern or an entry-level applicant would also be helpful.
Consider what experience have you gained during your freelance career. Focus on that in your resume and try to populate your portfolio with items that showcase your experience in detail.
Write a cover letter for each application and tailor it to the company. Make your application process more unique and genuine, far from the shotgun approach.
I’ve described some of the steps for internship applications but they may be handy in your case as well: 5 Crucial Career Stages: From Looking For An Internship To Career Growth.
Also, I love this lengthy story from an English major and former professional poker player who has landed a bunch of invitations by Google, Uber, Yelp, and joined Airbnb at the end. There’s a lot you can learn and implement in your next applications: