A friend of mine was looking for a freelancer to do some writing. I told them to post the job on Odesk. This is what happened.
The specifically say ...ONLY applicants from the US or Canada.
They received 23 applications and only 4 of them werre from the US/CANADA.
Why are freelancers from countries that do not match the client's requirements allowed to apply.
Needless to say, my friend is not very happy with my recommendation to post the job here.
Maybe it's the same everywhere, but I'm hesitant to every recommend any one else when this is what happens.
Can these people somehow be filtered?
I don't blame your friend from being disappointed.
But, the short answer to your question is: No, there is nothing your friend can do to completely block applicants from outside the US/Canada. But your friend CAN easily click on these applicants in their client-side list and dismiss them from her list. It doesn't take zero time, but it doesn't take long.
You pondered whether it would be like this elsewhere, on other platforms?
I think your friend's experience would be pretty much the same same everywhere, more or less. Many more applicants from outside US/Canada than from within on most platforms. I can think of a couple off the top of my head in which the freelancers are predominantly American, but they're nowhere near as large and I'm not going to name any here.
Odesk DOES allow clients to post jobs which specify particular criteria, including things like number of hours worked on oDesk, required skill sets, etc. Clients can do searches based on English proficiency, proficiency in specific tests, region, feedback ratings, activity (how recently they worked on the platform), etc.
But oDesk does not filter to prevent applicants from applying to jobs if they do not match the criteria. The job applicant DOES see a warning that they might not be the best fit, but they can still send an application.
Job applicants are subject to auto-hide, the feature whereby oDesk hides the less-qualified candidates, according to oDesk's internal algorithms. Perhaps auto-hide does not operate on client preferences for where contractors live? Or perhaps there were so few applicants from the United States/Canada, that the auto-hide feature did not put them into the hidden list.
Personally, as a contractor, I like having the option to bid on jobs even if don't meet all the client-specified qualifications, because sometimes I think I'm the best candidate anyway. But it is very rare indeed that I actually bid on such jobs. In most cases I feel that it is not likely I will be hired.
Maybe the thing that bothers me the most is applicants from "certain regions" who just randomly bid on any and every job posted, regardless of their qualifications. A few days ago, I was with a friend (a Japanese native with a degree in linguistics who has done Japanese translation work professionally.) We were looking up Japanese translation jobs, and most of the applicants who were bidding on those jobs clearly did not speak Japanese and did not even mention any type of translation or anything related to Japan or Japanese in their profiles.
These "contractors" who bid on jobs essentially at random (including bidding on jobs which specify that candidates live in a region that they do NOT live in) are a real drag on the quality of the oDesk platform.
I think you should inform support that the auto hide feature is not working as clients want. This will not help your case but may be odesk will actually consider your suggestion and make improvements on the auto hide feature.
I think odesk does warn contractors while applying for jobs where they do not meet region criteria(Yellow warning sign) but they do not stop applicants from actually applying.
Many contractors often try to make their case in these applications that they are as good as any. Some even find it offending that clients think that freelancers from certain region are not good enough (I think there had been discussions on this topic). They do not consider that clients may sometimes want to work with people in their timezones or near to their workplace.
Yeah, totally agree with Aseem here.
There are many legitimate reasons for wanting to work with someone from a particular region, not just time zone. It depends on the job. When hiring somebody to do visual design, illustration, it doesn't matter to me what region they're from, and I have used many people from the opposite side of the world.
But for some jobs, such as writing jobs, a client may need a person with certain regional expertise or need a speaker with a specific native language so that the highest possible quality can be obtained.
When I posted one writing job few weeks ago, it was important to specify that I needed a native English speaker.
Unfortunately, the quality of many applicants was shockingly low, even from some who live in the United States.
One candidate looked promising based on her profile, but when I asked one simple interview question via oDesk messaging, she sent a response that had 8 spelling and punctuation errors in 7 sentences. (For a *writing* job.)
When I politely said told her thank you for her application, but that we were "going to go another direction with regards to hiring," she did not understand my meaning. She thought it meant we were going to hire her and asked us to clarify the instruction regarding which direction she should go.
Better a friend and not an employer! An employer might expect better results; a friend might know better.
A lot of applicants are "bots." The end users of the bots do not even read each job description as their applications are automatically submitted.
Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm
I've applied to many jobs specifying US applicants, and landed several of them. The reason? Because while clients are entitled to specify like this, it may be based on a false assumption - for instance, that only a UK citizen can edit and proofread American English. Maybe they just don't realise that it's more important in this case to get a good proofreader than a good American.
And the point has been made several times before that it does dilute the whole concept of a global marketplace.
In the world of freelancing and being a digital nomad, an American or Canadian can be based in some other country at the opposite side of the world. This might be the reason why the applicants are not hidden.
I'm currently based in the Philippines and about half of the jobs I've been hired for are from postings which says UK only or US only etc etc.
I can see location being important when it comes to timezone but when someone is A LOT better than local freelancers and can work anytime, why not hire that individual?
You would be surprised by how many Canadian and American freelancers I know who are not based in the US/Canada. Are they less skilled just because they are currently not in those countries?
One forum member here is from the US but is currently based in the UK. She's a writer and very good at it. Would hiring her be a problem just because she chose to live in another country?
Btw, if you meant the spam applications, I hate those too. They really should be filtered somehow.
Dianne, kudos for many good points. I agree with you.
The original poster described a friend who specified a desire for contractrors from two different countries only: Canada and the United States.
The oDesk client-side interface for creating a job posting allows clients to specify a either a specific broad continental region, OR a specific level of English language proficiency, OR both, OR neither. (Default is neither.)
Personally, as a client I have posted jobs requiring no English at all, some English, or native-level English proficiency (depending on the job), but I have never posted a job specifying a specific geographical designation.
But that's just me.