When reading a job description, what causes you to go "Ut-oh!"? What red flags do you see in applications that at least puts you on your guard, if not actually skip to the next one? Here's some of mine (and others):
First and foremost The work is yours until you are paid in full. You own the copyright until you have been paid the agreed sum. If you choose to work for 15 cents per hour then that's your problem. If it takes longer than you thought..again, down to you. BUT. If you have done your bit according to the contract that you agreed, then the work is yours until it's paid for.
Asking for payment or to use your own accounts (Thanks Dave!) Money comes from the client to you; anything else and you're doing it wrong. Do not ever (unless you know the client really well, and give it second thoughts even then) pay for something for the client unless you have received the money from them first. Deposit for something; webhosting accounts; domain name; subscription for site X that is "essential for the job" etc etc. No money. Ever. Similarly, do not use your own eBay, Craigslist etc. accounts to list things for sale...chances are high that it will end badly and wreck any good karma you have built up there. And it'll be you in the frame if it turns out that it was illegal.
"Bait and Switch" (Thanks Selcalmel!) Clients advertise one job and then offer a different job at interview. Now there can be valid reasons for this; but a big difference between the job description and the work you're being offered should be viewed with extreme suspicion. Mostly on oDesk it's either jobs that you wouldn't have applied for if the job was described honestly or changing the rules to try and get the price down.
Too many people being interviewed This can be a sign that the buyer is dividing the job up and giving the various parts as a 'test' to applicants...with the intention of getting the job for free. It could just be that the buyer is looking for a very specific set of skills, or other innocent motive, but maybe not.
NOTE: (Thanks Brandon!) This also applies to the client's history...check the total number of jobs posted versus people hired. If there are a load of jobs posted but few contracts awarded, then proceed with caution.
Only low bidders being interviewed If you're not one of the low bidders on that job then it's probably not worth applying.
Long list of demands, silly budget We've all seen them; the jobs for an all-singing, all-dancing website for $100, followed by either a HUGE feature list and/or a long list of qualities required by the contractor. Luckily for you, the buyer is advertising the fact that they are a wanker (behaviour which is unlikely to change if you were unfortunate enough to land the contract). This buyer knows the market well enough to know exactly what they want; and must therefore know that the budget is exploitative...move on. And as a corollary to the above (Thanks Louis!):
People who bellow orders, often in capitals "SUCH SUCH WILL NOT BE READ I IF [insert term].... OTHERWISE I WILL DELETE YOUR APPLICATION IMMEDIATELY". Or "MUST ATTACH SUCH AND SUCH OTHERWISE YOU ARE WASTING MY TIME". Some people -presumably after watching Alan Sugar or that twat Trump- think that this is how bosses should behave. I see it mostly as a sign of either someone being new to being in a position to call the shots and is a bit insecure about it, or someone who is a natural git. In either case your job will be more difficult because of it. Also, these types of application are frequently paired with a ridiculous budget. Any buyers who are reading this should note that this isn't the way to go about things...also all capitals make it harder to read and you're increasing the chances of applicants missing an important detail. Annoying people before they've even applied for your job cannot possibly help. Am I the only one, by the way, who feels the impulse to reply in kind?: "Listen up bitch. I reckon I can do it in 10 hours which'll cost you $450 and if that isn't good enough then you can just **Edited for Community Guidelines** would be a fairly short application, probably.
Mention of half-finished job/previous contractor/s There are two factors here...sorting out what someone else has done often takes longer than just doing whatever it is from scratch. You will very probably be inheriting a hairy-arsed nightmare. The other factor -and a question you should be asking yourself (and the buyer, come to that)- is exactly why the previous contractor didn't finish. It does happen that buyers get a run of bad luck with contractors (often after playing in the lower budget ranges), so it isn't necessarily the buyer's fault. On the other hand, it could be. Rescuing a client from a wall-to-wall catastrophe at the 11th hour is one of the best smug feelings you can get as a freelancer; but these jobs are high-risk...you need to ascertain for yourself that the buyer is genuine before getting in too deep. A note to any buyers reading this: If you've already been through two or more contractors and you still don't have a result, you need to seriously consider throwing a match in and starting with fresh code. I've had jobs where it took significantly longer to find out what the hell the previous guys had done than it would have taken to just bin everything and do the job. And with other people's code, you can never be 100% sure that you haven't missed something important/broken/nasty.
One-line descriptions Buyers quite often don't know the information that a contractor needs in order to produce a final product the client will be happy with; that's not a problem and it's the contractor's job to ask the right questions. But when you see a job like "I need a website. Plz replie", just move on. If they can't be bothered, then neither can I.
Payment method not verified Sign either of a first-time user or a scammer. If the unverified user is overly familiar with the way oDesk works...warning! If it's a first time user, you may well have to do some unofficial oDesk support and talk them through it. And you might still get scammed at the end.
Anything where you have to create a user account on another site (that isn't the site you're working on) before you start. No. Just no.
Business plan with failure built in As a webdesigner, I hear 10 plans for world domination before breakfast. Some job descriptions have fail built into the very fabric of the scheme. The worst ones are the ones where you have to mess around with NDAs and soothe the buyer that you're not going to be over the horizon with his masterplan (which often as not turns out to be another bloody facebook or youtube clone). *sigh*
Jobs where 'clients' are mentioned I don't really like sub-sub contracting. Firstly there's there's the thought of the buyer sitting on his arse collecting cash for my work; which rankles a bit. Secondly -and more important- is the 'Chinese Whisper Effect'; where the original client's specs is filtered through the middleman's idea of what the end-client wants. These specs may well not be accurate. You *will* be doing extra work because of this. The same applies to large companies where an underling has been given the task and is now offloading it onto you; but in this case the specs are more often written down. The worse case in this latter scenario can be where it's a committee and everyone present has to get a design change in there -no matter how pointless- just to get their name in the minutes of the meeting.
"It will only take 5 minutes" No it won't. No job in the history of contracting has ever taken only 5 minutes. It takes longer than that to liase with the potential client, for a start.
Jobs that aren't worth it ((Your hourly rate) * (Number of hours you think it will take)) + (Say 10% safety margin for extra missions/unexplained bits) = (Your price for the job). If there's not enough money or not enough time, then it's usually best to move on.
Anything that mentions CAPTCHA or removing watermarks It's naughty. Don't.
Web scraping Nah. Probably illegal (copyright) and definitely immoral. You're stealing someone else's work. Worse...you're automating stealing someone else's work.
Jobs where it looks like a reasonable budget for the job until you read the description and it turns out that the budget is a monthly wage for full-time work of the same type This is annoying and wastes time.
Non-profit organisation (Thanks Mahesh!) A non-profit organisation is not the same thing as a charity. Some are, of course, but some are tax dodges, some are for groups of people, with the aim of the organisation being something you don't necessarily approve of..."Mothers in support of the ruthless oppression of Brits in Spain"; "White supremacy"; "Black supremacy"; whatever. Or -as Mahesh points out- it could just be weasel-wording for the fact that they haven't made any money.
Buyers asking for free work samples/tests (Thanks Anna!) It is the buyer's right to ask, just as it is your right to refuse. It's also discouraged by oDesk. All the veteran contractors (including me) will advise against free samples and in any case that's what your portfolio is for...to show previous examples of work and the standard that you're capable of. For contractors it just is not worth it...if there's 30 applicants to the job, you're spending time doing work for a 1 in 30 chance of getting a job. You can spend your entire life doing this and not make a penny. Now that I've said all that, a free sample is what landed me my first job on oDesk...someone wanted a graphic vector conversion and -having some free time- I just did it and sent an (unusable) sample graphic in. The buyer didn't demand a sample (I would not have applied if that were the case), but I proved I could do the job by doing it. Traditionally in design work, it used to be the case that the designer offered several alternate designs; but those were for *much* larger-budget jobs. It isn't worth even considering for the sort of jobs that are at oDesk. If you do choose to give free samples, always watermark them (Thanks Ernesto!). In the case of writing samples, send them as a graphic or locked PDF so that the text can't be used without paying you.
Free work samples - Part II If the buyer is asking for free samples and if it's the sort of job that can be broken up into smaller tasks then pay extra attention; and also look closely at the number of people being interviewed.
"Great opportunity for newbies" (Thanks Judith!) This means that a buyer is offering a risably small budget for work in exchange for giving you feedback. This is either feedback blackmail or investing time in order to get in the game, depending upon your point of view. You are definitely being taken advantage of; but really it's your decision...as long as you go into it with your eyes open and as long as it's all agreed at the start. Buyers trying to use feedback to change the terms after the job has started, however, should be reported.
Vague specifications (Thanks Louis!) It's harder to work with vague specifications, mostly, but you see quite a lot of jobs with insufficient detail. If you're extremely lucky, it's a buyer who wants this Thing to perform this Function; is busy; has correctly assessed your level of competence; and trusts you to get 'er done. This is rare. It is, however, also difficult to write job descriptions with exactly the right amount of detail. Insufficient detail could be due to laziness; unfamiliarity with the oDesk system; lack of knowledge (which is after all why the buyer is getting a professional in)...lots of reasons. The best way of approaching this -I believe- is to use the application letter and interview to clear up any ambiguities and to focus in on the specs so that you and the client both agree on what the job actually is and where the boundaries are. If you start the job and only have a vague idea of what the client wants, you are going to have problems. Possibly big problems if the job description also states...
Unlimited redo A job description containing these words should be approached with caution. Particularly with website work, as you're essentially agreeing to maintain it forever as part of the deal. Add a bit of mission creep to a contract like this and you're in a world of hurt. I always specify 'reasonable amount of re-do' in the cover letter. It's a contract and you should never agree to something that can suck up an infinite amount of your time for free. I understand that buyers want their work the way they want it and the 'unlimited' is mostly just a way of ensuring that their needs will be met. You, the contractor, also needs to ensure that you're covered, so best to renegotiate this phrase.
"Send us ID" This is not needed to work at oDesk. Don't do it or you will be very sorry. Verify who you are through oDesk, if you must, but ***NEVER*** send ID; bank account details, PayPal, eBay or any other information that can be used by ID-theft types.
Write to me outside of odesk This isn't necessarily a problem...everyone has their preferred methods of communication. At the first hint of paying outside of oDesk you should run away quickly: It's against oDesk rules; will get your account terminated if you're caught; and you will probably get stiffed by the buyer anyway.
Phishing (Thanks Santos!) The way this works is that someone sends you a link (usually an obscured one like "http://bit.ly/whatever"). This takes you to a page that *looks like* a login page to a common internet service (Gmail, Paypal, Amazon, whatever), but isn't. What the page is, is a copy of that login screen and the idea is that you type your password in and it gets captured by naughty people. It's then standard practice to use that email/username/password on lots of other common services to see if they work. If you 1) fall for it and 2) use the same password everywhere, you're stuffed. Don't trust an obscured link; and ALWAYS check the URL on a login screen, just to make sure you're in the place you think you are. Personally, I go a little further than that and keep a link with my (encrypted) password file and I only use my local link to visit web services.
Good luck out there!
Another example I observed is the posting of the same (long term) job over and over again within a period of months and a long list of freelancers performing this job for just a few days/weeks.
Indicates a lousy employer.
2.) Apparent "fake" good ratings by a freelancer and client which just performed that newly posted job for a short period- why would one look for another job/freelancer if the candidate/client was sooo perfect. (of course there may be personal reasons, but those would be mentioned then)
ANALYZE the "stars" careful before going into a long term job.
I love that you had the courage to post this, as it mirrors my feelings precisely.
I've been in business for many years and have had the instinct to avoid scams, but it's sad that Elance and Upwork often feel a little....what's the word: 'slimy?' at times.
When I'm looking at projects and seeing that at least 50% are complete scams and another 45% are zero budget, it gets a little disheartening.
As a platform, Upwork has a ridiculous amount of potential, but there needs to be much higher job posting standards.
couldnt figure out how to do my own reply
great list...but what if some one asks for personal ss card info for taxes? i didnt provide that sounds like identity theft to me?
Please, do not share private information such as social security number or bank account information with clients on Upwork. Freelancers are resposible for their own taxes and all payments need to be done through the platfom, so there is no need to provide that information to your clients.
Clients should not be asking for that information! They should be aware of us being independent contractors, and that Upwork sees to it that tax information is already taken care of. Explain that to clients after politely declining to provide that information, and maybe even ask if this is something that will be a fit for them. If it is a scammer, you will be able to tell and you can report them to Upwork.
I am not going to aay that the long list of jobs posted with ridiculous bosses is not true. I have seen so many of the jobs posted exactly as mentioned above, see original post.
And while in an idealic world yes, a boss- would protet 'us' indenpendent contractors. But it is not so. Not even when you are hired face to face as a freelance unless you work for a specific company. And then even then, the admin may take the side of the boss who has used your services so as to not get 'sued'.
I think that it is hard to be a contractor online. I have indicated some of the issues I have found on my blog on Redbubble.com but this is the nature of the beast. Independ contractor means you have to get in there and fight your battles. Choose them first, decide if the boss or that person who is hiring you seems to be ok because you are independent, and you work for no one but yourself.
I have been on my own this way from say one. When working for anyone who provides you a place to do business, they will not discourage business to their location - online or off- because you work for them. (in their establishment) This is asking them to basically be your dad or mom.
I find your demands a bit unrealistic.
Even when the job description is perfect and you love the job and the boss is basically honest he is still going to be hard to work for. There is no easy way out. If you think being an independent is what it is advertised to be "Be your own boss what everyone dreams of being and end all of your problems" That is a lie. It has never been easier than getting to a location and putting in a few hours putting inventory on shelves. That is easy.
I think contractors just need to man / woman up and be responsible and decide what your job IS. In exchange for working from home, not having to drive to an office, and oh so many other benefits, you must establish a credible persona- online and off. Sometimes that means proving your worth to those who could use you- in future or now. Yes, sometimes that means showing them what you can do- portfolio. Sometimes it means you are bored need something to keep your skills up and take work for free, I would not but sometimes they give you all of the specs and you hope they will pay you in exchange but if they do not then for goodness sake, you have only yourself to blame and cannot force money out of anyone-
It is best however, if you advertise on your own sites, in your warm markets and finds friends or family who could use your services, establish some name for yourself where you live and have them contact you or have them send others to you or allow social media where you advertise to cold markets to find you here on upwork because you don't know them and want Upwork to provide the escrow services so you know you are getting paid.
Seriously, one can't be a conctractor without proper business skills or entrepreneurial skills. Get them the best way you can and if you come across some bumps in your learning chalk it up to learning the dos and don'ts. but no need for what I have seen in other posts, where people are scawbing. Yes, my spelling is not the best and this is what I get for being bilingual, please forgive. Spell check on here would be lovely, btw. 🙂
So happy job hunting and nothing is ever wasted. Do not get angry, jusy learn from your experiences and don't get taken advantage of unless you need the experience of getting a job 🙂
I hope you are always paid something even if it is a small something, something is better than nothing.
Deacon T: As a platform, Upwork has a ridiculous amount of potential, but there needs to be much higher job posting standards.
"Slimy" is indeed the word. Bravo!
Make sure you have a contract in place and hire on the platform.
I too have been very disappointed in the number of scammers on this site anymore..... when I first started in 2010 when it was Odesk, there were a lot of legitimate employers out there and I worked more than 20 contracts; one employer kept me for 6 years! I was recently laid off so now I'm trying to find other contract work here and there's nothing but scamming all day long! This is a great idea as far as a portal to put legitimate employers with contractors, but something should be done about all the scammers...... I get several invitations per week that are all scams!!
Upwork, PLEASE do something about the scammers! There are a lot of long-time contractors looking for legitimate work and now that you've changed your fees to the company, you are making more money than before, so I believe that something should be done to weed out the scammers!
Shari (Ongoing, working Contractor since 2010)
Thank you! Just on Friday what seemed to be a legit employer wanted to interiview me.. first asked me for Skype and I said NO - I want a phone conversation first.... ok, then we were supposed to talk then he backed out 10 mins before our scheduled time.. rescheduled for Mon... guess what? never called me or wrote me back - company doesn't exist!! ..... you've got to be careful!!!
Thank you for taking the time to write this post!
I came on here looking for answers to clients wanting commission-based freelancers. What are your thoughts on that?
Also, (question for you and everyone) how can commission-based jobs be tracked on Upwork? I know there's a fixed-price option, but don't you have to set milestones? How do you predict commission?!
UpWork is a mine field. I have tried it for 2 months and had all BAD experiences. They take a perent of every dollar that passes to the freelancers. Maybe they could spend some of that money to filter the employers and positions.
Joe H: UpWork is a mine field. I have tried it for 2 months and had all BAD experiences. They take a perent of every dollar that passes to the freelancers. Maybe they could spend some of that money to filter the employers and positions.
I'm new and learning...and it's not a motivating, productive learn...
I am new here. Havent started up any work yet. I notice some big named Companies that do these long and drawn out interviews on Google Hangouts. I notice they need to hire al these people but have no history with previous projects. This is very confusing deciphering what is real vs what is a sham. Can someone explain the most used method for a Company looking to use you as a free lancer?
The main things I look for when looking to work with clients:
-- How many people have they actually hired on Upwork and what the reviews are. I also take notice if the clients don't give feedback to freelancers. SInce feedback is very important, I typically shy away from clients who do not give feedback.
-- How their posts are written and how concise they are. Numerous typos, incorrect grammar throughout the post, etc. Is the client too vague? If they are but you are still interested in the job, submit a proposal and ask for clarification on the details. Make note of any avoidance of an interview or answering specific questions.
-- I try to avoid jobs saying they need more than 2 or 3 freelancers for one project, especially if it seems simple enough for one to do. They may be looking for free work.
Think of it this way -- if you were hiring on here, you would be open to the idea but you would also have reservations. With that, you would want to make sure that your posts are concise and give a decent amount of details about the job that needs to be done in order to have the best experience possible using Upwork.
Another thing that helps is knowing yourself and your career/financial goals. Knowing these things will keep you from being desperate to take anything, and your mind is clear to make the best decisions when applying on Upwork.
I think I am now in the situation of: GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR NEWCOMMERS..
Can some of you give me an opinion on this situation? The client told me he is interested in my proposal so she messaged me to contact her via personal email for further instructions. She will hire me through upwork for payment but she prefers to explain the instructions through email. More convenient for her since upwork messaging system is clunky. Then we chated about how the number of drawings,style, the timeframe for execution and the we agreed on a price. Then she set up a contract like this:
Job Posting: Children Book Illustrator (ideal task for newcomer on upwork)
Contract Title: Children Book Illustrator (ideal task for newcomer on upwork)
Estimated Budget: $
Milestone 1: "Children Book Illustrator (ideal task for newcomer on upwork)" - $ (funded) - Due May 16, 2016
Is it just my feeling or a proper contract should include more details than these? like the number of illustrations, grant of rights, the credit, copyright, royalties, cancelation, competitive works, etc, like a proper contract they is usually made between an illustrator and a publisher/author?
I googled and found a proper example here illustrationcastle.com/blogimages/Contract_Template
How do you other illustrator fellows proceed? Any suggestions about how it's safe to proceed in order to protect the artwork. Do you use upwork messages or it's ok to use personal email also? Thank you !
From the way the RFP is written, the client wants to pay the lowest rates for a new freelancer or a freelancer new to the site. It is up to you to decide if you want to continue on these terms with the client.
But you certainly need to discuss with the client exactly what is expected for the price agreed (number of illustrations etc.) There are ways you can negotiate intellectual property rights, or credit for your work. However, when you sign up, Upwork's ruling on this is quite clear - you renounce all rights.
However, it does seem from your post, that your client has done everything needed to set up a contract correctly. So I am not quite sure what your problem is.
It also helps to be familiar with Upwork's user agreement on this subject.
8.6 Intellectual Property Rights https://www.upwork.com/legal/
[. . .]
Ownership of Work Product and Intellectual Property
Upon Freelancer’s receipt of full payment from Client, the Work Product, including without limitation all Intellectual Property Rights in the Work Product, will be the sole and exclusive property of Client, and Client will be deemed to be the author thereof. If Freelancer has any Intellectual Property Rights to the Work Product that are not owned by Client upon Freelancer’s receipt of payment from Client, Freelancer hereby automatically irrevocably assigns to Client all right, title and interest worldwide in and to such Intellectual Property Rights. Except as set forth above, Freelancer retains no rights to use, and will not challenge the validity of Client’s ownership in, such Intellectual Property Rights. Freelancer hereby waives any moral rights, rights of paternity, integrity, disclosure and withdrawal or inalienable rights under applicable law in and to the Work Product.
License to or Waiver of Other Rights
If Freelancer has any right to the Work Product, including without limitation any Intellectual Property Right, that cannot be assigned to Client by Freelancer, Freelancer hereby automatically, upon Freelancer’s receipt of full payment from Client, unconditionally and irrevocably grants to Client during the term of such rights, an exclusive, even as to Freelancer, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid and royalty-free license to such rights, with rights to sublicense through multiple levels of sublicensees, to reproduce, make derivative works of, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display in any form or medium, whether now known or later developed, make, use, sell, import, offer for sale and exercise any and all such rights. If Freelancer has any rights to such Work Product that cannot be assigned or licensed, Freelancer hereby automatically, upon Freelancer’s receipt of payment from Client, unconditionally and irrevocably waives the enforcement of such rights, and all claims and causes of action of any kind against Client or related to Client’s customers, with respect to such rights, and will, at Client’s request and expense, consent to and join in any action to enforce such rights.
Stick to Upwork for as many of the correspondences as you can; don't start until the contract addresses all the areas you need it to and make sure it is signed by both parties before beginning.
I read all of the posts regarding job warning signs and I found it interesting. I am a newbie, and posted that I wanted someone to finish my website started by Godaddy. I made the mistake of hiring thmem and assuming they knew what they were doing, and worth what they charged me. I had Go Daddy redesign my original website, **Edited for Community Guidelines**, and create a new website that is an e-commerce site. I spent $1500 on each site, and was paying $500 a month for SEO services on my e-commerce site, **Edited for Community Guidelines**. I travel a lot in my business, and I take responsibility for some of the problems we had getting this up and running. But, I don't feel like Go Daddy heard me when I kept saying I had created some gag gifts based on the presidential election in November and time was critical to me. When I finally Felt like I needed to do something to get the ball rolling I requested help on your site. I agreed that one of the persons who bid on my site would do the job. Several days later, I received notice that that person decided they didn't want to do the job. So, from a buyers standpoint, I'm not overly impressed with your site.
That sounds like a rough experience. What you, and many others may not realize, is that the level of talent found in both clients and freelancers on Upwork is variable. Upwork is a platform where people with abilities can get together with people who need work done; but that doesn't mean that the results are always predictable. It sounds as if you needed some fairly specific and technical work -- web design isn't for everyone. Also, I know from experience that Go Daddy is not the easiest platform on which to create a website.
While it might be a little late, and seem redundant, I recommend that you look at Google Sites. They are free to use, and are extremely user friendly. Meanwhile, create a breadboard mockup of what you want your website to look like and do. Sometimes the big problem is lack of clarity in communication. Armed with those things, look for freelancers who are specifically interested in web design and possibly even have some programming skills.