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Does Upwork staff ever follow up with clients whose jobs go unfilled?

demtron
Ace Contributor
John D Member Since: Jun 10, 2020
1 of 9

It seems like 98%+ of jobs posted result in nobody being hired.  Of those, at least three quarters of them have zero interviews, even when there are 20 or more proposals submitted.

 

Let's assume that the following is true for most of these jobs:

 

1) It's an actual project with work that needs completion by in the identified time range.

 

2) The client has chosen a pay range, duration, and experience expected that they're willing to pay for.

 

3) The client has received one or more proposals from freelancers that fit all the criteria and address the client's needs reasonable well.

 

4) The job posting is reasonably well described and, if not, one or more of the proposals submitted identifies areas requiring clarification and suggests setting up an interview.

 

If all this were true, I'd think there would be significantly higher interview rates and hire rates.  I've applied to many jobs wherein I meet all the criteria, provide a great proposal, and never get a reply - but no other freelancers have either.

 

This seems to happen less frequently than clients who have previously hired on Upwork. However, the vast majority of jobs I see posted are from recently signed-up clients.

 

I've been on Upwork for over a year and the batting average hasn't seemed to improve.  It may have even worsened, but moving from 98% unhired jobs to 99% unhired jobs isn't perceptible without meticulous recordkeeping which I'm not inclined to do.

 

So, where's the disconnect?  Are one or more of my assumptions incorrect and the jobs posted aren't bona fide?  Are submitted proposal so bad that no freelancer is worth interviewing?  Are proposals submitted with contact information for communication and negotiation outside of Upwork?

 

Is there some problem with the client experience that turns them off from using Upwork to hire someone?  (I've had several clients tell me they weren't sure how  to engage a candidate in an interview or what they were agreeing to initiating an interview.)

 

I get plenty of suggestions from Upwork Talent Specialists identifying jobs that have gone dormant and encouraging me to apply.  Am I supposed to believe that a dormant job just needs to right person to apply and I should apply (a.k.a, buy my lottery ticket) for a chance to win the job?

 

It would be nice to get a detailed and authoritative response from an Upwork staff member that answers these questions: 

  • What explains this massive disconnect between expectations expressed in a job posting and the quality/hireability of candidates submitting proposals such that so many jobs go unfilled?
  • Does Upwork follow up with clients to find out their experiences or frustrations in hiring someone?
  • Is Upwork OK with walking away from the lost revenue opportunities associated with all the projects that die on the vine without a hire, especially those that are longer term with high billing rates?
  • Are my expectations for a better interviewing and hiring batting averages completely out of whack?

 

Offering scripted suggestions to "create a winning profile", "create a winning proposal with relevant details", "provide portfolio samples", and "be more discriminating when applying to jobs" doesn't cut it, in my opinion.

 

Upwork may be working for some people, especially those lucky enough to land a long-term gig that can be considered a full-time income.  I wonder how much of this success is attributable to dumb luck rather than engineered efforts to match good jobs with good freelancers.  It just seems to me like it could be so much more, but the dots aren't being connected and responding to job postings is mostly fruitless.

 

Upwork, what's your take on this?

tlbp
Community Guru
Tonya P Member Since: Nov 26, 2015
2 of 9

Not Upwork, just a freelancer, but I'd say "yes" to this:

  • Are my expectations for a better interviewing and hiring batting averages completely out of whack?

I follow traditional job search news because it is one of the industries I write about occasionally. Traditional searchers are encountering similar inefficient systems that often result in no hires or poor interview experiences.

 

Any change to the status quo is likely to come slowly and only in response to a shift in power dynamics (e.g., less worker supply than demand). In the meantime, those searching for roles whether permanent or contract must operate in the current environment. 

 

If you want to explore average results in fields outside job/gig search, check out "conversion rate" statistics. Most sellers start with a wide funnle of prospects and eventually that funnel narrows to a very few conversions. In general, the more I learn about marketing and sales, the better I am able to understand and leverage market forces to my advantage. Perhaps I was lucky that some of my early clients asked me to write about these topics so that I was able to learn about and use them to my benefit. 

demtron
Ace Contributor
John D Member Since: Jun 10, 2020
3 of 9

Hi Tonya,

 

I agree with your response.  I also see the inefficient job trends for traditional jobs and agree that my expections are probably out of whack for that sement of the job market.

 

Most of the jobs I see posted on Upwork in my area (software development) are for short-term gigs.  As a long-time independent contractor, the profile for almost all my clients is:

 

  • They need a resource with a specific skill set to solve a short-term problem and maybe be available for long-term as-needed support.
  • They don't want or need to hire a someone for that need as a permanent role.
  • They don't have an in-house resource available with the right skills, or the previous contracted resource with those skills is not longer available.
  • The client contact has enough knowledge about technology and the project at hand to express the high-level requirements, the skills needed and a reasonable time frame for completion.

 

Given those conditions, Upwork should be the ideal place to find freelancers to fill those roles!  Clients can specify what they're willing to pay, tag the skills they need, provide the duration of the engagement and have the opportunity to negotiate any of that during and even after the interview.

 

So, let's say I'm a client who posts a job with these conditions.  I receive 10, 20 or more responses within a few hours.  How great is that!  As a client, I can quickly review and vet the candidates, then decide which ones to contact.

 

I'm not hiring for a full-time position that requires background checks, drug testing, reference checks, or an invitation to my office to show candidates around the company.  I'm not making a $100K+/yr decision on salary and benefits to find the right person who's the best fit for skills, attitude and company culture.

 

I just need someone to fix my darn Excel spreadsheet, database, website or whatever.  I can tell you what I need fixed and I can tell you when I see it working right.  I'm thinking it'll cost me $300 and it's not a mission-critical need.  I can quickly see which candidates have verifiable past experience with previous projects of similar scope and skills.  I can even search and invite candiates myself.  The right person, who has probably already sent a proposal, can fix it for me today.

 

But I don't act on anything.  By all appearances, I've had everything handed to me where all I need to do it click the Interview button on at least one candidate.  But I don't.  Why?

wlyonsatl
Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
4 of 9

John D.,

 

Your perception that a relatively small percentage of posted jobs result in a freelancer being engaged is correct.

 

No public numbers are available, but I regularly see a note from Upwork while waiting for a page to load that 3 million jobs are posted on Upwork every year.

 

For all of 2020 Upwork says 226,699 freelancers worked on Upwork projects,. Assuming that each freelancer worked on an average of 5 projects during the year, about 1.1 million jobs engaged a freelancer, leaving 1.9 projects unfulfilled.

 

I am sure Upwork is considering every possibility for increasing that uptake rate of less than 37%. But there will always be unfulfilled projects for reasons ranging from the client never intended to actually hire someone and was looking for samples of pricing, projects get cancelled, etc.

demtron
Ace Contributor
John D Member Since: Jun 10, 2020
5 of 9

Hi Will,

 

Factors that I think make the number much lower for US-based freelancers include differences:

 

- between hiring globally vs. hiring from other countries vs. hiring domestically

 

- among job duties - I suspect certain jobs have a much higher hiring and retention rates than others

 

- between billing rates for US freelancers vs. those from other countries

 

- in jobs that skew those numbers such as "30 minutes of speaking phrases by a native English speaker" and that one job results in 50 or more candidates being hired.

 

- whether private jobs are included in those numbers

 

Given these factors, I wouldn't be surprised if the uptake rate for US-based freelancers for jobs with higher billing rates (say above $30/hr) was a fraction of 1%.  One would think that hiring rates with no long-term commitments for skills on-demand would be much higher on Upwork, especially given the present economic uncertainty.

 

wlyonsatl
Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
6 of 9

It's not something we'll every know.

 

I revised my numbers to take into account an average of each of the freelancers who worked in 2020 working on five projects. Assuming only one per freelancer is definitely too low; assuming five projects per freelancer may be too high (or still too low).

 

You can find information about the breakdown of US vs. non-US clients and freelancers in Upwork's 10-K filing with the SEC: https://www.sec.gov/

 

The last I looked I think about 75% of Upwork's clients are US-based and 25% of freelancers are US-based. I'd expect the US-based freelancers have far higher billing rates on average than non-US-based freelancers, but there is no public information in that regard.

researchediting
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
7 of 9

John D wrote:

Hi Will,

 

Factors that I think make the number much lower for US-based freelancers include differences:

 

- between hiring globally vs. hiring from other countries vs. hiring domestically

 

- among job duties - I suspect certain jobs have a much higher hiring and retention rates than others

 

- between billing rates for US freelancers vs. those from other countries

 

- in jobs that skew those numbers such as "30 minutes of speaking phrases by a native English speaker" and that one job results in 50 or more candidates being hired.

 

- whether private jobs are included in those numbers

 

Given these factors, I wouldn't be surprised if the uptake rate for US-based freelancers for jobs with higher billing rates (say above $30/hr) was a fraction of 1%.  One would think that hiring rates with no long-term commitments for skills on-demand would be much higher on Upwork, especially given the present economic uncertainty.

 


You might want to spend some time with Upwork's published statistics, here and in their marketing materials. The last I read, most money on Upwork flows from US clients to US freelancers.

"Does Upwork staff ever follow up with clients whose jobs go unfilled?"

 

Probably no more often than newspaper want ad sections follow up with their advertisers. Oh, the one thing they do is repeatedly futz with the connects system and the various broken match systems to try to move dormant posts out of the sludge pile.

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
8 of 9

re: "Does Upwork staff ever follow up with clients whose jobs go unfilled?"

 

Upwork's business model is largely predicated on Upwork staff never following up with anybody about anything.

 

The way the company makes money is by creating a system which runs as much as possible by users using it without the need for employee/staff interaction.


This isn't to say that Upwork "doesn't care" about its users. It's just how the numbers work out. It is not profitable to pay anybody to get involved with all of the contracts and usage on the platform.

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
9 of 9

John D wrote:
  •  
  • Are my expectations for a better interviewing and hiring batting averages completely out of whack?

I think your numbers are way out. When you start with completely faulty data, the resulting conclusions are completely faulty too. 

 


John D wrote:

It seems like 98%+ of jobs posted result in nobody being hired.  Of those, at least three quarters of them have zero interviews, even when there are 20 or more proposals submitted.


I'm pretty certain those numbers are way out. 

How did you get those numbers? 

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