" ... inexperienced clients demand insane things like a total shift in requirements with no additional billing, or they underestimate completion times when they have zero knowledge of your trade... all while holding your profile score hostage when you try to reject in reasonable ways... Upwork throws up their hands and says they won't intervene..."
I agree with that almost entirely. Upwork does have some lesser observed services that I didn't even know about that help stand up for the client (and I don't mean arbitration).
But changing the grounds of the deliverables from either end shouldn't be tolerated and should also be obvious. That's why I build in milestones...it helps to self-check that the work being submitted is acceptable (granted not always possible to do.). I also make a habit of spelling out exactly what I'll be doing.
More work on my end, but less taxing on the psyche.
Quick question .How does a very skilled person but new to upwork get a job because it seems that only people who have been hired here are more likely to get jobs
I did it by my portfolio, and paid for danny margulies training, which helped give me a huge advantage that actually worked for me outside of upwork, but I do what I can to help contribute to upwork community to keep the freedom going. Yes you will have to deal with inexperienced clients, but you have a right to say no, or impose the billing requirements for said extra work. If they don't agree, do what you were hired to do and close the contract. Unlike on freelancer, when these clients take it out on you about their own mistakes, upwork at least gives you a chance to defend yourself. It's subject to change since upwork's transition to automate everything which will end up bad, but for now, get your portfolio set up, and every piece of work you ever done, put it on there. For extra results, I suggest danny margulies classes. It worked for me and I am on upwork full time now. Just be the experience and take the smaller jobs first and get 5 star ratings which build up your job success score, I suggest doing this until you become top rated. From there, you have a new set of challenges, but the rewards so far have been worth it.