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jaliu
Member

Am I doing something wrong as a client? Why are my hires so bad?

So I've been on these sites for a couple years, and for some reason all the hires I make have the same pattern: they are extremely slow or don't do any work at all even from the get go (often will work for a few minutes and make it seem like they made progress), make promises that they don't fulfill, and just disappear whenever they feel like it during conversation without any notice (while I sit there wondering if they will come back). They always have excuses and after the first or second person doing this every day I realized they are just lying. 

 

So you probably already figured out that these were all low cost free freelancers, so I guess it's my fault for not learning my lesson or expecting to get quality service at low cost, but I did vet all their work and they all had great reviews in general. I just don't understand what the problem is: I mean the last person I hired gave me a price and I accepted it without even negotiating, so could it be price related issue even when i'm giving the freelancer everything he/she asked for (and also incentivize with bonus)? I understand that they may be working on other jobs or trying to solicit new ones, but why wouldn't they just tell me so I can set the proper expectations instead of wasting all this time waiting? Why do they accept my job if they don't have the time nor will to work on it? Is their plan to work on the job for 10, 20, 60, however many minutes or so whenever they have free time, stretching out the job for weeks or months and expect the client to wait for them even though they said the whole job would only take a few days? Are they outsourcing the work or trying to figure out the skills required to do the job? I mean, they can't possibly think that the client will be happy with their performance (which also prevents them getting future work and keeping you as a client)? Why do a bad job and get a bad review? 

 

Then if I ask them if they still want the job they'll say yes, but things don't change, and some get mad when you bring up your concerns, acting like you're so a-hole for not thinking their behavior is normal? I always start out by giving them the carrot and lots of freedom but when that doesn't work, neither noes the stick. I am just so confused by their thought process and everytime wonder if I am somehow being scammed. Each and every time I just keep asking myself if there is something I am missing. 

 

Please advise. I am so confused. 

 

P.S. Does anyone know if cancelled jobs actually factor into job success percentage? Perhaps this is why the score does not reflect their actual performance?

57 REPLIES 57
knwlzahid
Member

After reading all this, the point I figured out is that unfortunately you're doing work with unprofessional people. I as a freelancer can never thought of such behavior with my any client even If I am not happy with the price he pay to me.

 

My advise for you is to make sure to hire the person that can provide you best possible work rather than hiring low cost free freelancers. And before hiring make clear expectations with the freelancer in terms of quality and time, set reasonable deadlines by taking in confidence the freelancer and then stick to them. If the freelancer is not able to meet the expectations then leave feedback based on his performance. A bad feedback is not really bad in nature, it will not only help freelancer to realize his mistakes and improve but also save other clients from hiring unprofessional people. 

 

 

lysis10
Member

You said yourself that you are hiring cheap. You also take a chance with noobs. I gave a few noobs a chance and it didn't turn out well. The only time taking a chance on a noob is worth it is if you have a non-critical job where time doesn't matter too much.

 

The problems you have are just one reason why I have clients who stick with me for years. If my competition wasn't a bunch of incompetents, I might actually have a hard time. I also have clients who only hire certain people because they've been burned too many times. Some places just keep ruining their rep over and over again.

 

My advice is to find people who charge professional rates, have a history, and then work with them on a test project (paid) to see how they do.  Only take a chance on a noob if it's something that isn't critical.  I always had them accept the job and then disappear. Then, when I'd ping them a couple days after it's due, they'd say they were sick and then get it back to me the next day. It was always terrible too.

 

The thing with this place is that you really have to work to find the right people. You can get a vibe from people when you chat with them. Even though I gave noobs a chance, I kinda got a vibe from them if they were any good after a little chat.

Both provider's suggestions have a lot of validity.  I'm a huge advocate of Skype chats just to get a feel for the person's comprehension of your needs.  This also lets you determine in a second if their language skills are sufficient to understand and deliver the product.

 

Hiring cheap is asking for trouble.  Hiring a new-comer not always - but check their credentials before hiring and have that Skype chat.  Everyone was new to the platform at some point so lumping all noobs into a "Never Hire" category is unfair.

versailles
Member

Jonathan, I'm on the both sides of the fence here and in my experience, cheap very often means cheap. People who bid the lowest rates here are those who are desperate, who are amateurs, or who are fraudsters.

 

If somebody bids very low, chances are that they have nothing else to offer. Usually, with time, this attitude will reflect on their job success score since cancellations have an impact. This, however, may take some time to emerge on one's profile since not all disgruntled clients leave feedback.

 

When I hire people I immediately dismiss unrealistically low bids because I know for sure that those are just trouble. Depending on the category, you can get work done for a reasonable price if you accept to hire newbies. But you need to learn to read between the lines in order to decipher their proposals and profiles.

 

Yesterday, for instance, I hired a Linux guru for a simple task. He had 0 job history but his profile and proposal demonstrated that he had the required skills, I also sleuthed a bit and found his LinkedIn profile.

 

His rate was within the average range of all rates that I received. I choose him because I knew that as a beginner, he would want to receive a stellar first rating. And this is exactly what happened. He ended up with a professional wage, I ended up with a professional service and he ended up with a stellar rating.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   โ€”William Ashbless

The person I hired seemed to be one of those up and coming providers too. I think he/she may have been top rated at the time in fact. Maybe there is something that I am doing wrong or could do better? What kind of communication do you have with the people you hire? Do you have discussions with them over chat for example, which requires more time and attention, or leave a set of directions for them to complete on a daily basis with minimal communication? Are there any kind of expectations that you set from the get go with each person you hire? 

 

Thanks.

gerrys
Member

Speaking rhetorically, contemptible wages elicits contemptible behaviour.

 

The fact you let them work for you, does not mean they "like" you (for having to work for you at wages that are ?).

 

Simple experiment: hire a few at different rates and note the behaviour.

So you think there is an inherent understanding between a client and a low-cost freelancer that work performance be contemptible? Is that their perspective when they set their rates low?

5a8e4aec
Member

Would you take an important client for a meeting on a project to a Mcdonalds and expect a steak? why would you be surprised if what you got did not turn out to be a steak.  truly you get what you pay for in life but that is only true when you are willing to put effort in to manage that.   Why would anyone put some important project or process that can affect your relationships with your customers and their satisfactions at risk by having expectations that are ungrounded.  Most of my work doesn't come from this site and business in general outside of upwork seem to be more cautious on who they shack up with.  There is no problem finding great help anywhere in the world.  I have a team of Indian developers that are top notch.  We split the profits on jobs after expenses and it works out fine.  I get a lot more work, high-quality complex work from them that is hard to find anywhere in high availability.  I get that because I pay them very competitively.  I get a lot more than just the face value. They want my work and do backflips and go the extra mile always because I make it worth their while.

 

Try paying a competitive wage to qualified freelancers abroad or at home, the difference will be obvious. You get what you pay for

Never teach a pig to sign, it is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.

There is nothing wrong from a tactical perspective with hiring low-cost contractors, as long as you understand the risks and hire enough to hedge your bets.

 

As a client, I have successfully hired low-cost, mid-range, and high end contractors.

 

When I hire low-cost contractors, I'll typically hire between four to six and give them identical assignments, in order to obtain satisfactory results from at least one. This can result in significant savings.

Low cost is fine. Saying something is low cost would imply it still is realistically available at that price.   When you expect that a job will be fulfilled successfully at pennies on the dollar that is an ungrounded expectation with defective pricing. You get what you pay for

Never teach a pig to sign, it is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.

you must have a lot of extra time, i cant imagine trying to manage several projects each with 6 concurrent efforts with the expectation that almost all will fail.... simultaneously.   I would rather only do it once.

Never teach a pig to sign, it is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.
claudiacezy
Member

Regardless the rate a freelancer is charging, some may take a week or two before delivering anything, even if the actual job takes only 3 hours to complete.


You need to set and agree on clear deadlines. If during the interview you act like there is no deadline and give the impression that as long at the work is done you will be happy, the freelancer may take more time and think that is ok.

jmeyn
Member

You are hiring cheap which already mostly means unprofessional contractors. On top of that it means you are probably hiring from areas on the globe that have an entirely different culture e.g. with regards to deadlines and that many can't adapt to our culture.

Other than cost of providers, are your needs and 'instructions' clear?  None of us are mind readers.  Experienced providers ask relevant / pertinent questions; noobs are often hesitant to do so for fear of appearing unqualified or simply because they don't realize the importance of doing so.

If you need work done by tight deadlines, then your options are simple:

 

a) work with a contractor you have quite a bit of experience with, who has always succeeded in turnining work in on time.

 

b) hire multiple contractors. The more important the deadline, the more contractors you'll hire.

I have a really important project. I'm doing a the main part of the work, but I'm not an artist. I need an illustration created by the contractor.

 

But the project is due on Wednesday. I can't turn it in late.

 

Do I hire one illustrator for the project? Of course not. That makes no sense at all.

 

I hire 6 illustrators, and give them all exactly the same assignment.

 

All of the details needed to create the illustration are in the job description.

 

One of the contractors, after being hired, asks me a lot of questions. I tell her that I don't have time to answer questions, to do the best that she can using the original description. I never hear back from her.

 

One of the contractors turns in the project within a few hours. It's pretty good. I pay her and close the contract.

 

Two more of the contractors turn the project in before the deadline.

 

Two more of the contractors are never heard from again.

 

By the time of my deadline, I have 3 versions of the illustration. I choose the best one.

 

I close all the remaining contracts. I have paid for the illustration three times. So I paid a little more than maybe I could have got away with paying, but I had peace of mind. And I have a really high-quality illustration that I love. Had I only hired 1 person, I may have hired the "wrong" illustrator and had a merely adequate illustration.

 

How would I have known beforehand which of the 6 illustrators would provide the work by the deadline?

There is no way to know.

 

How would I have known beforehand which of the illustrators woud provide the best restul?

There is no way to know.

 

If I have a deadline, it only makes sense to hire multiple contractors. And I get the benefit of multiple versions of the product, from which I can pick the best one.

Maybe it works for you in that niche, It wouldn't work well in software development.  You have to interact a lot more than that.   If you are doing anything technology oriented, It is nearly impossible to set people up to be productive by making them work in a vacuum and cut them off from meaningful communication.  You described a market that has been so marginalized that you can afford to hire several people on the simple hope you get something usable.  From your description, that doesn't sound assured but does sound like you would get inconsistent quality and style. I am surprised that if this comes up regularly and that it is deemed important, that you don't have a few reliable known folks to go to.

 

Never teach a pig to sign, it is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.

re: "Maybe it works for you in that niche, It wouldn't work well in software development."

 

Allen: You are correct.

Much of what I am describing is not applicable to software development.

 

But much of it is.

 

You do not want to assign entire software development projects to multiple people. But it is important to hire multiple people for software development projects, even if there is not a tight deadline, in order to pick the best people.

 

If you have a large software development people, a great time-saving and cost-saving technique is to hire multiple developers at the beginning of the project, and give them all the same relatively small assgnment. You might hire 4 to 10 people.

 

With your project manager, you will see who actually turns in work, who turns in work on time, and whose work is of sufficient quality.

 

You can then pick the best one or two developers to continue working with to complete the project.

Rarely is it so cleanly compartmentalized so that it can be outsourced in such a way.   What happens is that you develop trust relationships with various groups with various skill sets and you work with them and you often have them bring in extra resources and references.  I would never hire more than 2 in a competitive scenario.  The time distraction would be too costly.  If it was critical and hot, I would not move down the food chain and hire more for less. I would go up the food chain and find the top-tier resources and pay the price to have it done right.  The question is, what is critical.  If a due date is arbitrary then it is useless.  If your firm misses a deadline for a $5 million dollar contract submittal, why would you risk it with likely amateurs?  

Never teach a pig to sign, it is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.


@Allen E H wrote:

Rarely is it so cleanly compartmentalized so that it can be outsourced in such a way.   What happens is that you develop trust relationships with various groups with various skill sets and you work with them and you often have them bring in extra resources and references.  I would never hire more than 2 in a competitive scenario.  The time distraction would be too costly.  If it was critical and hot, I would not move down the food chain and hire more for less. I would go up the food chain and find the top-tier resources and pay the price to have it done right.  The question is, what is critical.  If a due date is arbitrary then it is useless.  If your firm misses a deadline for a $5 million dollar contract submittal, why would you risk it with likely amateurs?  


Amen brother.

 

That's why I said, if time isn't important and it's not critical, noobs are OK but stay away from them if you have something critical going on. I also wouldn't hire a noob if we're talking an entire application from start to finish. You are asking to get strung along for months with a totally unusable product at the end. 

This is an interesting possibility. Do some cultures consider this kind of behavior normal? It doesn't make sense from an efficiency and relationship standpoint.


@Jonathan L wrote:

This is an interesting possibility. Do some cultures consider this kind of behavior normal? It doesn't make sense from an efficiency and relationship standpoint.


I agree it doesn't make sense but I've worked in im- and export for various industries, buying from and selling to many clients all over the world. There are countries and cultures that don't view a deadline the same way we do.  

jaliu
Member

Another thing to keep in mind is that the cost of living for cheap freelancers is significantly less allowing them to charge much less, so it's not exactly comparing apples to apples. 

5a8e4aec
Member

There is low cosy and then there is cheap and then there is another level all together here on upwork that makes me cringe .... I could not with any sense of good conscious or fair play ever offer the rates that so many seem to think is reasonable. **Edited for Community Guidelines** No empathy and no conscious, they are half a world away, who cares, it's just business.

Never teach a pig to sign, it is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.

Boy my spelling goes to hell when i am on a rant

Never teach a pig to sign, it is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.
anima9
Member

You know, I won't judge you and I also won't give you advice since I'm late to the party anyway.

 

What I can tell you is this: Even the most incompetent freelancers can fake it so you shouldn't really blame yourself that much.

cupidmedia
Member

Jonathan, like plenty of others have said, if you're hiring low cost freelancers then you will get low quality work. I also find that lower cost freelancers need more instructions and guidance in general.

 

It sounds like you're also having a problem with communication, like others have pointed out. If you have a deadline, you set a deadline (I always put it in the job description, if I have one). Then when you make the offer you can again confirm the deadline. Keep discussing it with your freelancer, but don't be afraid to close out the job if they don't meet it or if you think they're stringing you along.

 

The biggest thing for me is always communication. In the 4 years and 30+ freelancer contracts I've had here, I've only ever had 2 contracts where I had to close them early with less than 5-star feedback. One of them I realised afterwards that their high JSS and number of jobs had nearly all come from 1 client which was clearly skewing the results. If I'd done my due diligence better I may have been able to avoid that. The other one it ended up being just an insurmountable communication issue between us. I know communication works both ways though, so I shoulder some of the blame for that too.

 

I treat my freelancers well, communicate well, and pay them well, and I very rarely have problems that can't be overcome.

Problem is, upwork doesn't show any info about the previous clients at all right? 

Correct, you can't see for sure that someone has been working repeatedly for the same client. The only reason I can tell is that there is a specific client in my field who always leaves feedback following the same template, so freelancers end up with a long list of very similar feedback for lots of very small jobs (only a few dollars) if they have been working for that client. Now I know what to look for and generally try to avoid freelancers with that kind of history.


@Jonathan L wrote:

Problem is, upwork doesn't show any info about the previous clients at all right? 


True, that is a problem. You have to go by the wording as the stats are not shown to clients. 

jaliu
Member

Well, I just let the person go. Today the person told me that the font could not be changed through the wordpress theme. After 20 min, it was still not complete. I know close to nothing about wordpress and was able to change the font in a few seconds with a couple clicks for the entire website. I can't believe this person made me wait 30 min to do the same, even I know it doesn't take that long to change it through the code.


@Jonathan L wrote:

Well, I just let the person go. Today the person told me that the font could not be changed through the wordpress theme. After 20 min, it was still not complete. I know close to nothing about wordpress and was able to change the font in a few seconds with a couple clicks for the entire website. (...)


 It seems that you hired a joke. They were probably learning Wordpress on the job.

-----------
"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   โ€”William Ashbless
gbalint
Member

So one of my clients (nah, he/she ain't on Upwork) has this way of doing things:

 

  • nothing happens for 3 weeks
  • during the 4th week, he/she comes saying: OMG! We have to do this NOW. It's been on the backlog for 2 weeks.

Usually I take it as some form of humor, do the work (which at most sums up to 2 days) and amaze everyone.

 

But!

 

I never take him/her seriously. He can pay me a million dollars per month, I'm never going to think of him/her as someone professional.

 

Now, if I work with somebody who is always on top of things and gives me work everyday (for which I have to show up), at some point I start thinking: I ain't getting paid enough to be here every **bleep** day. Even if paid with one million USD per month.

 

Bottom line, 3 weeks of work and one of leasure on an average income (for a software developer like me that would be $30/hour) it's the perfect harmony.

Sorry, I don't get the point you are trying to make! And is that client on a fixed or hourly contract?

 

I get if the freelancer can't provide a ton of attention at the rate charged (or if he/she just rather not), but tell me so I at least know what to expect -- especially when I bring it up and ask how you approach the work and communication so I know what to expect and am not left wondering what's going on when you disappear. Unfortunately, when you have these kinds of conversations with them, sometimes hours long, things still don't change. It's just a waste of time for both parties, which makes no sense. I also saw in the screenshots that the freelancer was doing like 20 different things at the same time which explains a lot.

To cut it short, I don't know about the people you are hiring, but for my case the minimum amount so I work with only one client at a time is to get around 4000 euros per month. I don't consider it too much, I know it's not anywhere to cheap, but that amount of income will give me, at least, peace of mind if the car brakes down or if the video card fails.

 

Again, I don't know about your hires, but I'm pretty confident everybody has that kind of amount set in his mind. But if you, as the contractor, have projects for $200-$500, it's pretty obvious you can't make end's meet.

 

I was looking at the medium income in Pune, India, and, well, it's higher than in Cluj - a city in an EU country. So...

I think your common sense view is a good start ... but there are too many people trying to be arm chair economists trying to pass judgement on what a living wage is in countries they no little about.  I get to know the people I am working with in India and I can tell you they are not interested in making the wages that people are expecting.  Its a country with a lot of disparity in wealth.  The crank out engineers faster than the economy can absorb, so you get a lot of desperate people there..  Desperate people dont make for the best workforce, dont expect them to be reliable they are too busy trying to survive and the wages you are offering does little to help them.  I have established some great relationships there where there is plenty of value for each side.  It fosters mutual respect and it facilitates their commitment to your projects 

Never teach a pig to sign, it is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.

Not interested in making the wages people are expecting? They are the ones setting their own rates and agreeing to the terms of the contract. Why take jobs only to neglect them? Unfortunately, if they are not pleased with the laws of supply and demand they can either improve their skill set or change their circumstances. I'm pretty sure us giving them jobs is better than not giving them jobs. 

Like I said, there are lots of desperate people taking jobs for whatever price they can get.  I don't have your problem, I have the exact opposite.  Right now, outside of upwork, I have a large commercial project involving google apps scripts and google drive rest api for a company with over 10,000 active member who upload multi-gigabyte files where we are providing a resumable upload feature that we are publishing through our own web app and api that uses google as the data storage host.   My project is casual easy to manage, on time and under budget. The customer is delighted and with future enhancements this is turning into a job worth 50K over the next year.  I have my Indian counterparts me video walkthrough updates weekly as required, we talk almost daily as required, everything is well documented ... I have no complaints.

 

I just dont have your issues, but I do things a lot differently than you do.

Never teach a pig to sign, it is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.

If someone is setting a low rate, it is because they can't compete at a higher rate.

 

I may take on a job for less than my normal fee if I feel like doing the work, but I don't advertise rock bottom rates or chase after low fee jobs. 

 

If you are paying less than minimum wage (U.S.) for a task, then you are working with someone who is competing on price, not talent. IMO, it doesn't take much to be a Rising Talent. Look for examples of the person's work. Ask questions via the message system before hiring, and set milestones.