For 4 years, I have been a loyal Upwork client. I've spent $143k on Upwork in the past 18 months (client feedback score of 4.99, currently have 12 open contracts).
That said, I will not be using Upwork to fill the next job opening in my company. The process of finding and interviewing quality applicants is simply too time-consuming and difficult, and every time I post a job it seems that the entire UX has been completely overhauled (usually making the process more confusing and difficult).
Here are some of the issues I have experienced in the past 48 hours while trying to fill a part-time customer service position:
1.) I specified the required qualifications for this position (ie. at least 1 hour billed on Upwork, feedback score of 90%+, etc) but this makes zero difference to who applies for a job, since there's no way to specify mandatory qualifications (and disallow applications from unqualified freelancers).
2.) The default sort order for the applicants list is "Upwork Recommended", which is completely useless as the "recommended" applicants are very often totally unqualified for the position. For instance, in my recent Customer Support job post, I required applicants to meet the following qualifications: "Must be a native English speaker", "freelancers only (no agencies)," "job score 90% or better," located in "East Asia," with "at least 1 hour billed".... one of the first Recommended Freelancers in the list of applicants is an agency specializing in "OpenCart Technology" based in India with no hours billed, no feedback score, and an application letter written by someone who clearly speaks almost no English..... in other words, Upwork's top recommendations for this position include an applicant who meets 0 of the job requirements specified.
3.) There is no way to filter the list of applicants, except for the option to show only shortlisted candidates... why can't I filter the list to show only those who meet X requirement? How hard could that POSSIBLY be to implement?
4.) I have to hit "show more" to see more than a handful of applicants at once... why? If I accidentally click the back button in my browser, the list re-sets and I have to click the "see more" button 12 times to get back to where I was previously. Why can't I simply check an option to display all applicants on one page?
5.) The applicants list is just completely broken. Many times, an 'archived' applicant shows in the main list, even though clicking on their application to open it in a popup window shows their application status as "archived". The number of "new applications" changes constantly every time it's refreshed, sometimes showing 15 new applicants and other times showing 45+.... on this recent job post, I archived some freelancers at least 5-7 times and they still occasionally showed up in the main applicants list.
6.) There's no way to search the list of applicants, so I had to scroll through 179 applicants looking for the name of a freelancer who was recommended by a colleague.
7.) On some applications, the freelancers' feedback score is shown in the list of applicants (ie. "88% job success").... on others, there's no score displayed, even though when viewing the applicant's full profile there are multiple past jobs with feedback and feedback/job score. Why can't the score be displayed on every application instead of only some?
8.) I have no idea how the "job success score" is calculated, so it's essentially meaningless... one applicant to my recent job has complete a total of 3 jobs on Upwork, all 3 with a feedback score of 5.00, and yet her "job success" is only 88%.... how is that possible? That doesn't make any sense.
9.) What the hell does "Rising Talent" mean? The Help page on this topic offers a vague, unhelpful explanation: "Rising Talent freelancers have great potential based on strong backgrounds in their fields and early success with their clients on Upwork. Rising Talent agencies are new agencies that either have strong backgrounds in their industry or is an agency started by a Top Rated freelancer." <== who decides what a "strong background" is? What vetting process takes place? How can someone be given this "Rising Talent" status when they've never worked a single hour on Upwork? Why would being in an agency started by a Top Rated freelancer automatically give the same status to their agency members (who may have 0 experience / relevant skills for the job)?
10.) I don't want to hire an agency for this latest job post, but I have agencies applying for the job (with a "relevant contractor" attached, which in some cases was also an agency and not an individual freelancer) and applicants whose profile says they're "associated with" 1-3 agencies. The Help page does not properly explain the difference between these two types of applications, and two chat support reps gave me completely conflicting answers to the question. Why the ambiguity? Why not just allow either individuals to apply (meaning they get 100% of the salary if hired), or agencies (meaning you hire a company and they arrange a contractor suitable for the job)? The confusion essentially has made me look only at freelancers without "associated agencies" shown on their profile.
11.) What can I learn from a freelancers "test scores"? Nothing, as far as I can tell. Some of our best freelancers have mediocre scores on English tests, but they speak and write English so well that a native speaker couldn't tell it was not their native tongue. Also, there's not really any clear benchmark for what a "good" score is (ie. is 3.70 / 5.00 a decent score, or did the freelancer basically flunk the test?), aside from labels like "top 30%" which isnt meaningful if the other 70% of people tested speak 4 words of English and scored 2 out of 20. Also, what is done to ensure an applicant hasn't hired someone or asked a friend to take tests under his/her account?
12.) For this recent job I posted, I set a specific non-negotiable salary (stated explicitly in the job post description)... 80% or more of the applications I received bid at a different rate from what I had specified in the job post... why can't I set a specific rate for a job, and only accept bids from contractors willing to work for that chosen hourly rate?
I find it almost laughable that, after posting over 100 jobs on Upwork in the last few years (99 hires), I can still list off 12 separate issues with the hiring process. Granted, not all my complaints would be shared by other clients, but surely several of them are features that a) would benefit and be well-received by almost all clients; and b) could be implemented in a day or two by any competent programmer.
Sorry to vent this publicly, but I simply cannot contain my frustration with the hopeless hiring process that seems to be steadily getting LESS user-friendly and more confusing, even though Upwork's fees and rates have increased dramatically.
Please, Upwork, listen to your clients and address the numerous problems with the hiring process.
Thank you Mark - this is enlightening to me. I think I can address one question you have - #8
Private feedback also contributes to our JSS. So while the client may have rated well in the public forum, they had more truthful things to say in their private feedback.
And I do hope an Upwork mod will address at least some of your issues.
Thank you Virginia... I figured as much.
Unfortunately, without seeing any details about the private feedback a contractor has received, there's no way to tell whether they've had a single "0 out of 5" review, or 7 private "4 out of 5" reviews.... all I know is that the client has more jobs and feedback than what I can see, and at least one of those jobs resulted in poor feedback.
To be honest, I'm not really clear on why it would even be possible to hide certain jobs or feedback from a contractor's profile... perhaps I'm missing something here, but I think all feedback should be public unless both the freelancer and the client decide to completely retract their comments, leaving just the basic details of the job without any score (and thus without any impact on the job score that's displayed publicly). That way, when I look at a freelancer's profile, I know that the job score and feedback displayed tell the whole story about the freelancer.
Well, that's a question for Upwork to answer. I do know (or think) that there's a timeline that also affects JSS (though I'm vague on that). Like they may go back to jobs that were acquired on Elance, if the freelancer came over from Elance - although those jobs are displayed on their profiles here ... so maybe I'm wrong about that.
I'm awaiting a comment from a mod on all your concerns - hopefully some of them are/will be addressed. It's unfortunate that so many freelancers are allowed to (seemingly) ignore client specs - the reverse of that is true for us as well. I receive job invites and recommendations that are so far out of my wheelhouse as to be in another galaxie.
There is so much potential here, but a lot of work needs to be done to achieve that potential.
"4.) I have to hit "show more" to see more than a handful of applicants at once... why? If I accidentally click the back button in my browser, the list re-sets and I have to click the "see more" button 12 times to get back to where I was previously. Why can't I simply check an option to display all applicants on one page?"
This one kills me. It's like someone threw a bunch of "mobile web" ui here without thinking about it.
The attached screenshot shows three of the top applicants in the list, two of which are "recommended" by Upwork for this particular job.
Again, this is a Customer Service job post, clearly specifying the following requirements: At least 1 hour worked, 90%+ feedback score, located in East Asia, no agencies, $6.67/hour non-negotiable salary.
....and, for this job, Upwork has put the following two applicants near the top of the 'recommended' list:
1.) A freelancer from the US who bid $18/hr and has 0 hours billed and no job score;
2.) An agency specializing in IT services (not customer service) based in India with a related contractor that appears to also be an agency (so an agency application with another agency listed as the relevant contractor), with 0 hours billed and no job score.
Not only does this illutstrate how useless the "Recommended" feature is, I also have no way to filter out these garbage applications (I received 179 applications in 18 hours) and easily find the few applicants who actually meet the job requirements.
It blows the mind.
I know ... I don't pretend to know how algorithms work, I only know that on this site, they don't.
179 bids is crazy. Sometimes in the time it takes me to put a thoughtful bid together on an RFP that had no bids, 50 freelancers have left bids - it boggles.
I think there's a little bit of confusion here regarding public vs private feedback. The "private" feedback that affects JSS is the first section of the feedback you provide when you close a contract with a freelancer. You're asked out of 10 if you would recommend them etc and sometimes to comment on their language fluency. That initial section is the "private" feedback. Then the ratings out of 5 and the feedback box are what shows on the freelancer profile.
I think that recently there was a trial of a feature for Top Rated freelancers to be able to disregard a specific job for JSS purposes and to hide a feedback, but if they hid the feedback it was only the comment and it was replaced by "This feedback has been hidden" or something along those lines, and the star rating was still visible. I'm not 100% clear on how those features worked though.
I have been wondering about point 2.) - the Upwork recommendations - myself.
I have only commissioned one project until now and my specifications have not been very precise on that one, so I thought I would get those weird recommendations because of that, but reading your list it seems that it's a general problem.
In a new project I posted yesterday, I specifically looked for a programmer with more than 100 hours of experience and fluent English skills. Under the first five recommendations are 4 with 0 hours experience working on Upwork (AND 0 jobs - I think it's confusing that the fixed price contracts don't count for any hours anyhow - even though I see how it would be hard to determine...) but what really got me confused was, that 3 out of those 5 don't have any programming skills whatsoever. Upwork recommended a real estate agent, an accountant and a customer service agent.
Now that could be, because I did not specify what kind of programmer (with which skills) I need in my job posting and I did not acually ask for a programming service (since I am currently looking to interview experienced programmers for my research, ergo: no suitable key or tag words for programming services). But since I had to specify the categorie of freelancer I am looking for right in the beginning of my job posting, I assumed that I would only be given according recommendations.
In hindside, I wonder whether certain keywords in the job posting (and the title) might be more important for the matching algorithms than the specifications made by me manually. But I am not even very sure about that possibility either, since the accountant and the real estate agent really didn't have anything to do with my job posting either...
Thanks for sharing your input. Please note that the OP is referring to recommended freelancers from the proposals list, while you are referring to freelancers from the invite freelancers list. I do see there are a few users that don't meet your preferred qualifications. Our team is aware of this discrepancy and is working to update this tab so it includes only users who meet all the requirements, and not just some of them.
thanks for the clarification.
I did get that wrong, but it seemed just like the problem Mark described. And whether they are freelancers that are inicially recommended to me to invite for my job or freelancers that applied for my job by themselves doesn't really make a huge difference, does it? Eventually, I should be able to review the most suitable candidates (according to my specifications) first, either to invite them to apply for my job, or to invite an applicant for an interview.
Please do correct me if I got something wrong again...
I'm sorry about the difficulties you're facing with hiring freelancers for your jobs. Looking at the points you outlined, it looks to me that there might be some confusion with the way jobs are posted.
To your first point, please note that freelancers who do not meet your preferred qualifications will still be able to apply to your job. We do educate and advise freelancers against submitting a proposal which does not match their skill set. We do sort out freelancers in the proposals list by best match, but stopped moving proposals that don't match client's requirements to a different folder, due to freelancers feedback who found this practice unfair.
To your second point, the applicants list contains proposals from users who applied to your job, and those freelancers are not offered by Upwork. I found the proposal you mentioned and will forward it to our team.
Regarding filtering proposals, we've shared this feedback with our Product team and they are exploring this option. Seeing that you have a clear idea about the type of freelancer you need, I'd suggest running a search and using appropriate filters to account for the requirements you mentioned, and inviting users who meet all the qualifications to bid on your job. In your case, I think this method would more appropriate than posting a public job, since you already know exactly what you need.
#4 I'll share your thoughts about expanding the proposals list with our team.
#5 Could you please take a screenshot of the proposals which are shown both in the proposals list and the archived folder, and send them to Customer Support?
#7 It's possible that a freelancer hasn't completed the number of jobs required to get a Job Success Score on their profile yet. For the other users you mentioned, the previous jobs on their profile might be the ones they completed on Elance, or they might have been completed more than two years ago and the freelancer only recently resumed using they account, which is the time frame Job Success Score takes into account.
#8 Please see this Help article, which you can access from the proposal tile or freelancer's profile.
#9 Please see our announcement here for more information about the Rising Talent program.
#10 To understand a difference between freelancers and agency contractors (freelancers submitting proposals under their Agency), please see this Help article and Hiring Headquarters blog about Agencies.
#11 You can use the "details" link and find more information about a specific test the freelancer completed. Skill tests are one of the indicators of the user's abilities, and you can also check if the user has verified their language proficiency, along with reviewing feedback left by other clients.
#12 Freelancers have the ability to bid their own rate for your job, and it doesn't necessarily have to match the budget you've stated in your job post. You can search freelancers by their hourly rate to get a closer match, but invited freelancers can also negotiate their rate when discussing contract terms.
I'll share your suggestions and feedback with the team, and do please send us screenshots of the proposals that you mentioned are showing up in both the proposals list and the archived tab. Feel free to follow up with any questions you might have so we can clarify any remaining confusion about Upwork's procedures and processes.
Thanks for the reply Vladimir. In fairness to Upwork, I should also mention that an Upwork rep also contacted me privately today regarding these issues, which I appreciate.
"To your first point, please note that freelancers who do not meet your preferred qualifications will still be able to apply to your job."
Yes, this is precisely the problem.
I'm not really sure why there can't simply be a check-box beside each qualification on the "post a new job" page that toggles whether a qualification is "required" or not... so, if I check that box beside the "At least 1 hour billed" qualification, for instance, then anyone without any hours billed on Upwork would be unable to apply for my job. If I don't check the "required" box for a given qualification, then freelancers who don't meet that requirement would still be able to apply. Simple solution that completely solves the issue.
"We do sort out freelancers in the proposals list by best match, but stopped moving proposals that don't match client's requirements to a different folder, due to freelancers feedback who found this practice unfair."
Sorry, but as a client, I really couldn't care less whether a freelancer thinks it's "unfair" they can't apply for a job they're unqualified for.... I know what I want in a candidate, and if someone doesn't meet the requirements of the job, I have no interest in looking at their application, because it's simply a waste of my time.
"To your second point, the applicants list contains proposals from users who applied to your job, and those freelancers are not offered by Upwork."
Sorry, I have no idea what this means.
"Seeing that you have a clear idea about the type of freelancer you need, I'd suggest running a search and using appropriate filters to account for the requirements you mentioned, and inviting users who meet all the qualifications to bid on your job. In your case, I think this method would more appropriate than posting a public job, since you already know exactly what you need."
So basically, I should be expected to dig through thousands of freelancers that match the required qualifications, manually invite each one that looks promising, and then sort through the list of applicants and look for those that I have invited?? Why would Upwork force clients to do that much work when there's an even simpler, more user-friendly solution: implement the same search filtering system for the applicants list! That way, I don't have to waste my time inviting qualified candidates who may or may not be available or interested in the position.........
Again, I appreciate Upwork's response to my concerns, but this answer gives off an air of "sorry, we can't be bothered to improve the user experience and make life easier for our clients, so just deal with the half-assed system we offer currently"...
"#4 I'll share your thoughts about expanding the proposals list with our team."
Thank you. Again, the solution to this one is ridiculously simple: have a drop-down at the top of the applicants list where I can select how many applicants I want to see on one page (ie. 10, 20, 50, 100, 500).
"#5 Could you please take a screenshot of the proposals which are shown both in the proposals list and the archived folder, and send them to Customer Support?"
This issue seemed to resolve itself about an hour after I finished shortlisting/archiving all the applicants. Now, it does appear to only show the ones who are not archived. If I post another job, I will take a screenshot or video showing the issue, because I know it will arise again (this recent time was the 3rd job post where I've experienced this issue). I am using Chrome on Mac OSX.
"#8 Please see this Help article, which you can access from the proposal tile or freelancer's profile."
Thanks. This clarifies things somewhat, although I still think it's far too complex for the average client to really understand fully. Further simplification of the factors that go into the Job Score rating, and more transparency about a freelancer's work history and past feedback, would make life easier when screening applicants.
In the case of the applicant to my recent job who had a Job Score of 88% and 3 public jobs listed on her profile (all with a 5.00 feedback score), how do I know whether she's had 4 jobs with feedback of "6 out of 10" or a single bad experience with a client who gave her a 0 out of 10? I know the math may not add up there, but my point is just that it's so confusing that it's hard to trust the score or really get a good sense of what it says about the freelancer's past performance.
In general, if you have to refer a client who has hired over 100 times on Upwork in the past 3 years to the Help docs to figure out how a core feature works, there's probably a need to simplify and clarify the process for all clients.
"#9 Please see ourannouncement here for more information about the Rising Talent program."
Thanks for the info. My core issue remains, though: someone with zero work history on Upwork can be given the "Rising Star" badge just for completing their profile and applying for jobs that are appropriate based on their (100% self-assesssed) skillset. On my recent job, I had applications from "Rising Talent" freelancers who had 0 hours worked, bid half the rate specified in the job post, and clearly spoke little or no English... to me, that just indicates I can't rely on the Rising Star badge to provide any useful information about the applicant. This certainly isn't a major issue, and I can understand the idea behind it, but I just wanted to convey that (for me personally) it's not helpful when evaluating a candidate.
"#10 To understand a difference between freelancers and agency contractors (freelancers submitting proposals under their Agency), please see this Help article and Hiring Headquarters blog about Agencies."
Thanks, I've read both of those articles and spoken to two separate chat reps (who gave conflicting answers). There are several fundamental problems with agencies:
1.) Why can't I disallow agency applications completely? This is a no-brainer and a 2-minute fix for your coders.
2.) What does it mean if a freelancer is "associated with" an agency (as shown on the right sidebar of an applicant's profile)? The Help article doesn't even mention that at all.
3.) One Upwork help chat rep talked about "exclusive" and "non-exclusive" freelancers... there is absolutely no mention of this at all in the Help docs.
4.) Why am I receiving applications from an agency whose "relevant contractor" is also an agency? Is there any oversight over agencies and their applications at all?
Why the total lack of transparency around agencies? Why force clients to dig through help docs or talk to clueless chat support reps to try and figure out whether they're hiring an agency or an individual? Why not make this 100% clear to clients in the applications list, and provide an option to disallow all agency applications? These are, once again, simple changes that almost all clients would surely appreciate and benefit from.
"#11 You can use the "details" link and find more information about a specific test the freelancer completed. Skill tests are one of the indicators of the user's abilities, and you can also check if the user has verified their language proficiency, along with reviewing feedback left by other clients."
Thanks, you're right, this is useful.
Unfortunately, I also recently found out that freelancers can HIDE any test score they choose from their public profile, which means they might have scored 1.2 out of 5.0 on 10 different tests, and aced another 2 tests, and then chosen to hide all but the two fattering scores. All test scores should be public, period -- if a freelancer is uncomfortable taking a test because they are unsure if they'll perform well, they should not take the test in the first place. I'm sure clients might complain about this change if it were implemented, to which my response would be "tough, take the test again and do better this time".... as a client, I want to know ALL the details about an applicant, not just the ones he/she wishes to share with me.
Anyway, I think I'm in the minority on this one, so I withdraw my complaint about this issue (aside from what I've mentioned above)... even with further enhancements, I don't think that i personally would be comfortable using the test scores as a means to evaluate a candidate, but the additional details about each test certainly do give them more value than I had initially thought.
"#12 Freelancers have the ability to bid their own rate for your job, and it doesn't necessarily have to match the budget you've stated in your job post. You can search freelancers by their hourly rate to get a closer match, but invited freelancers can also negotiate their rate when discussing contract terms."
Yes, thanks, you have summarized the problem very well with that statement. Simply put, I want to receive only applications from those freelancers willing to accept the non-negotiable salary I specify.... and I can't do that. Why? Why force me to dig through the list of thousands of contractors who may or may not be interested, be willing to accept the rate I'm offering, and manually invite all of them (even though I still don't know if they'll actually bid for the job at the rate specified)?
This one is unexcuseable to me... I know what I want to pay for a given position (especially since we have 7 contractors already doing the same job at the same rate), and I am not interested in receiving applications from anyone who does not want to do the job at that rate.... and yet your proposed solution is to spend even MORE time trying to achieve what could be fixed with a simple check box that forces freelancers to apply at the specified rate, or don't apply at all. If I receive no applications because no-one is interested in doing the job for the salary I'm offering, well then I'm out of luck and I'll have to raise the rate if I want to find a contractor to fill the position.
The whole point is that I don't want to have to spend hours trying to find a qualified candidate, and your suggestion involves spending MORE time doing so. Why not make life EASIER for clients by implementing this kind of incredibly simple solution? If you're concerned about overcomplicating things for new clients by having too many settings and check-boxes in the job post options, how about a single check-box in a client's Account Settings page that enables "advanced features"??
@Mark B wrote:
All test scores should be public, period -- if a freelancer is uncomfortable taking a test because they are unsure if they'll perform well, they should not take the test in the first place. I'm sure clients might complain about this change if it were implemented, to which my response would be "tough, take the test again and do better this time"....
We can take tests an unlimited number of times, but the new scores don't replace the old, they just add another score to our interface. If all of our test scores were public, you'd see what we see on our own profiles–the same tests listed multiple times with different scores. In some cases, that section of the profile would be cluttered and difficult to read.
@Mark B wrote:
Some of the reasons it is unfair is not the freelancers fault. For example.... Hours worked on Upwork is a big one. Many freelancers, including myself work mostly fixed rate jobs. I have worked over 100 jobs but I only have a little over 100 hours and that's because I happen to have a sporadic long term hourly job, but if I didn't have that one job, I'd still have worked over 100 jobs (at a fixed rate) but if I applied to your job, it would show that I have exactly 0 hours and I would not be considered by you when I have worked a TON of hours on Upwork. Of course, that's hypothetical as I am not a customer service rep and would not apply for the job anyway but I would be very upset if I couldn't apply to jobs because I haven't worked enough "hourly" jobs. I can't, for the life of me, understand why Upwork doesn't count fixed rate jobs as...anything. They simply don't exist until you click on the freelancers profile (which many clients won't do when they see the quick snapshot of 0 hours) and then it doesn't even make sense to see so many jobs completed with so few working hours.
With that said, I have been hired for many jobs where I "technically" didn't meet the hours requirement (it was bright red on my screen when I applied and I applied anyway) which means the client clicked on me anyway and hired me anyway so not all clients are as strict with their requirements.
I researched the differences between agencies and independent freelancers a while ago, and I think I got some answers to your questions 2.) and 3.).
When a freelancer is associated with an agency, as I understand it they are part of an agency BUT that doesn't necessarily mean they cannot work as an individual freelancer for you.
That depends on whether the freelancer is an exclusive agency-member (all contracts will be paid to the agency) or non-exclusive, which means he can also work independently.
Apparently, non-exclusive freelancers have the choice to apply to jobs either as an agency member or as an individual, independent freelancer.
For more information have a look at the following help page: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211062608-Work-for-an-Agency
I hope that clarifies things for you a bit.
Hi Mark, let me follow up on some of your points here.
Sorry, I have no idea what this means.
It means that all proposals on the list are submitted directly by freelancers and not by Upwork, which is related to the fact that freelancers decide whether to submit a proposal or not and Upwork doesn't interfere in this process. From your previous comment, it sounded like you thought Upwork offered these freelancers on their own.
Based on your comment and complaint regarding the number of applicants who don't meet all of your qualifications, posting invite-only jobs is a viable alternative when you already have a comprehensive list of requirements.
Again, I appreciate Upwork's response to my concerns, but this answer gives off an air of "sorry, we can't be bothered to improve the user experience and make life easier for our clients, so just deal with the **Edited for Community Guidelines** system we offer currently"...
We are monitoring clients' feedback and constantly looking into streamlining the screening and hiring process, on both public and private jobs.
Please see my reply to your first and twelfth point in the previous post.
That means that a freelancer is also part of an agency, whose details you can see by clicking on the agency link.
That information is not really important for clients, as it pertains to the freelancer's status within the agency. In one of the freelancer facing Help articles on the same topic you can find further details about working for and managing an agency, which is not necessary for clients to read about as it doesn't impact the hiring process.
It seems that the freelancer used their Freelancer profile to advertise their Agency, and the agency name was used instead of the user's real name. We'll follow up with the freelancer and address the error.
Proposal tiles do show this information as you've noticed, as freelancer's proposals won't have agency details on them. As I've stated before, on publicly posted jobs we don't block proposals from applicants who do not meet client's requirements, and you as a client do have the option to archive proposals sent by agency contractors. I'll follow up with the team and check if we need to clarify this distinction further.
As I've mentioned, we don't have a mechanism to exclude the proposals you don't want to receive on publicly posted jobs, and freelancers will continue to be able to set their rate when submitting proposals on these jobs. Most of the freelancers who applied to your job did bid in line with your prescribed budget, and users will often forgo on applying if a client clearly states that the budget is set in stone. However, clients sometimes agree on paying a higher rate than the one they were adamant about after negotiating with freelancers.
I'll reiterate that if you'd like to receive only proposals which perfectly match your requirements and budget, posting a private job and inviting freelancers might be a better solution. I can confirm that this wouldn't take hours, and I hope other Community members who are hiring on the platform by using this method will follow up and share their experience soon.
Thanks again for sharing your insight and the rationale for filtering the proposal list.
While I understand this post is several months old, it appears to be the best summary of Upwork shotcomings. While I agree with just about all of the concerns listed, the biggest problem for me is the filtering of candidates during the interviewing process. More specifically, the ability to apply a status relevant to my evaluation needs. As far as I can determine, there are only three status that can be applied: Shortlisted, the abscense of being shortlisted, and Declined. As a transitioned ELance account, there was certainly more opportunity than this. If I recall there was a numeric ranking that I would apply to determine where each candidate was in the process.  would be an applicant that met all criteria and provided all requested documentation.  might be an applicant that had was recommended by the system, but had yet to communicate.  might be initial conversation but had yet to complete the NDA, etc... There is nothing to help me manage each candidates status in Upwork. I'm now literally forced to use a spreadsheet to replace what should exist within Upwork. I will not be using Upwork again unless some form of expanded proposal status functionality is implemented.
Thanks for showing us the client's side of things. Specifically how flawed the system is when it comes to recommending f'lancers and explains why the "good ones" aren't hired as much as before.
I'll save this for future reference.
the one thing that I can think of in improving the clients experience is an option to sort applying freelancers by whatever parameter the client wants- hourly rate, location etc. with at least 2-3 sorting/filter options.I'd say that will take a lot of pain away
I agree, Jutta... and this search filtering system already exists on the Upwork site, as you can use all those filters when searching the entire database of Upwork freelancers.... all Upwork needs to do is implement the same search system for the job applicants list and suddenly the process of screening applicants becomes WAY easier and less time-consuming.
thank you for your detailed description. Having hired only twice on this platform, I can only comment on some aspects, but I do agree that the amount of clicking and toing and froing one has to deal with is unnerving. The fewer actions a client has to take, the better. That is one reason why the various categories like Rising Talent, Recommended, etc. were introduced, I think. (Although Rising Talent does not refer to early or continued success. Otherwise I would have that badge as well. But I don't because I did not fill in the whole profile form, which is a prerequisite.) A list -- like a folder file list in the Windows OS -- which allows for different views (list, smaller and larger symbols, list with details, etc.) and which the user can choose to display any way he or she wants would be more helpful.
As to your not finding suitable candidates -- have you tried browsing through the list of freelancers using a filter? Sometimes you have to go after them. 😉
"As to your not finding suitable candidates -- have you tried browsing through the list of freelancers using a filter? Sometimes you have to go after them. ;-)"
Sure, that's absolutely true, some types of position require a client to actively seek out the best freelancers and invite them to apply.... I always do this when posting high-end programming or business service type jobs.
But for basic customer service @ $6/hour, there should be no need for me to spend even more time digging through thousands of freelancers who may or may not be interested in the position. I received 40 applications in the first hour, and, after 90 minutes of struggling to sort through the **Edited for Community Guidelines**
list of applicants, ended up with 12 shortlisted candidates who would have been a good fit for the position.
Honestly, if I wanted to spend more time searching out a freelancer to fill a job like this, I would just hire a headhunting company. My time is worth more than that, hence why I've used Upwork so often in the past to fill this type of position. The point is that this whole process is WAY more difficult than it needs to be..
Don't get me wrong, Upwork has some real benefits and strong points.... but I don't accept the argument that I should have to spend hours sorting through a huge list of freelancers who may or may not be interested in the job, invite each manually, and then once again sort through the list of applicants to try and find the ones I invited or the ones that match the required qualifications. That's just a completely lazy and apathetic response to a problem that can be solved easily.
I agree, but I also think that 40 applicants in the first hour is...a nice result.
One more idea: Upwork also has VAs on offer. How about hiring an assistant for the selection process? Trawling through piles of applications isn't fun, but a VA, HR specialist or similar could do it for you. Cheaply, if you hire on Upwork.
Mark, I can really see your point of view because I post jobs and do initial vetting for one of my clients. As such, I agree with Alexandra that it might not be a bad idea to hire a VA that can manage these types of jobs for you. It absolutely isn't a good use of your time to do so yourself.
I realize there's a certain level of trust that must be attained before you'd be comfortable handing this off to someone else to manage but, ultimately, you'd likely save yourself a ton of time, energy and money.
Thanks for the suggestion, Christy / Alexandra. However, I'm not really interested in paying someone to navigate the very user-unfriendly hiring process on my behalf.... that's not a solution that I find acceptable when I'm already paying $6,000+ per year to use the Upwork platform. There are a half-dozen ultra-basic features (all clearly outlined in this thread) that Upwork could implement in a matter of hours to make the hiring process easier, simpler, and more transparent.
Given the [significant] fee increases that Upwork has rolled out recently, I think it's completely reasonable to expect them to make simple changes to the platform and their services that will make them more intuitive and user-friendly for clients like myself.
On a positive note, I'd like to recognize Upwork for reaching out to me again today to seek further feedback and offer assistance finding talent in the future. I'm still unhappy with the ineffective hiring process, clunky platform, and lack of features... but it's nice to see some action from Upwork and I appreciate the personal follow-ups from management. Hopefully some of the issues mention in my initial post will be resolved before I have another job opening to fill. I'm certainly more hopeful than I was when I made the initial post.
I miss Elance. I have a lot less invested in Upwork than Mark B, but I'll just say that the 2 projects I've posted so far on Upwork have been a much greater pain in the arse relative to my prior experiences on Elance. Sifting through crap applicants is hugely more difficult. Even the Messages UI is bizarrely bad. Frankly this whole site should be trashed and someone should start from scratch.
And while you're at it, why not start with the logo itself? Can't you see that the "p" in "Up" is a loop ending in a downward motion? That way the whole nice symbolism of the "Up" is neutralized and turned into the opposite. I will wonder forever how anybody in their right mind could choose such a symbol as the main logo for their company.
Disgruntled buyers, while all I could do was laugh when reading the astute critique of the logo I can offer a few suggestions on perhaps solving some of your issues in finding freelancers.
Keep a list of those who did excellent work (refer back to your eLance files if need be) and send them private invites to jobs prior to posting them for general distribution. Providers that worked with you in the past are those most likey to respond favorably to a new invite. Their rates will probably have increased to compensate for the new fee structure BUT the time you save and the decrease in your frustration level will appreciate it.
@Wendy C wrote:
Keep a list of those who did excellent work (refer back to your eLance files if need be) and send them private invites to jobs prior to posting them for general distribution. Providers that worked with you in the past are those most likey to respond favorably to a new invite.
This is available for Elance clients, under contracts they can see all their Elance freelancers.
@Wendy C wrote:
... while all I could do was laugh when reading the astute critique of the logo ...
What else can you do? I surely won't weep over this. Imho this occurs, when you have a big merger ahead, a million things in mind, and the logo of the new company is just one of them. Which it shouldn't be. But this is off-topic here. I was merely reacting to Jeffrey's advice to better build everything new from scratch. Just couldn't resist.
@Natasha R wrote:
People can interpret things how they want to. Do you remember when Airbnb launched their new logo?
Sure, these things are always wide open to interpretation. And this is very good in my opinion. And nothing is ALL good or ALL bad. I don't pretend to know all about it or even that my opinion matters. But for me the upwork logo is bad, it just symbolizes what I observe here. Everybody wants up and is led down. Just my opinion. But again, for many users, Upwork seems to work just fine, so maybe the logo was designed with a special purpose that I don´t know about.. And I have just researched the Airbnb logo and I find it PERFEKT for their business model. But as you so rightfully say: everybody can interpret these things how they want to. I don't know about Airbnb, but judging from their logo they must be doing great, I guess.
Unfortunately there aren't decent competitors, that's the only Upwork's strenght, which they leverage to the tilt! ...I am SOOOO looking forward for a decent competitor to appear, I'll last 2 hours on Upwork.
Just to summarize the ones we used: Toptal it's an empty promise, we found there at least 30% developers also active on other platforms, only at three times the hourly rate! Freelancers is like Upwork only cahotic, it seems impossible but with an even worse chat UX, again, at least 70% developers are the same people we keep encountering accross platforms. We also use a lot of specialised directories but I wouldn't mention them as they are very niche. Good news for everyone, where we abandoned LinedIn for hiring (horribly exploitative) we're sourcing very good freelancers cleverly navigating FaceBook groups...and I'll stop there otherwise the moderator will moderate me out...
Thank you Mark. I totally agree - we haven't spent as much as you, but quite a lot for us. The same thing happened when we interviewed for new DEVs. I said no agencies - yet there they were applying. The agencies were present when I was looking for candidates to invite even though I said no agencies. Same thing with requiring 90% and above. Same thing with people that had no percentage rating - only to find that they had received 5 stars by delving into their background.
Upwork - you need to listen to the clients.
We've been in Upwork 7 years (even before it was Upwork) with several accounts and we certainly spent more than several hundred $k on it. So, as a fellow 'veteran' I subscribe to each and every item in Mark's list...and that's only about the list of candidates!
We've been discussing with Upwork representatives a lot, over the years and our bottom line is that the very few (comparatively few) professional clients are not a priority for Upwork. Although we bring substantial 'by account' fee stream, we are nengligible to the whole cashflow. Webflow makes money matching MASSES of incompetent clients with MASSES of incompetent freelancers, that's their core business. Once you see things from this vantage point all the issues you raised make perfect sense: the more the merrier! Statistically, when one doesn't know exactly what she's looking for a big number of applicant increases the chances they'll find her.