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!
Thanks For this helpfull resource. Wish I saw this one before I start here. From now on I will take look at these points when applying any job.
Thanks Darren for this great articles. 🙂
JAK P: Don't worry about this.
This is normal.
Real people at oDesk will check your profile to make sure it is up to oDesk standards. It's not MySpace or something where can just create an account any way you want.
ODesk will be checking to make sure you posted a real photo of yourself, and that it is a good photo clearly showing your face, a close-up, not a long-shot. Well lit. Looking at the camera. If you have a nice photo like that, and if you describe yourself adequately in your profile overview text, then you should be fine.
If your profile isn't quite ready when they look at it, it's okay. They'll advise you on what to fix. Once your profile is approved by oDesk, you will be able to apply to jobs during any period of time when your account is not under review.
Hi guys, I just wanted to add another one to this list after an experience I just had with a client.
Apparently there is a client here who is telling freelancers he will offer them a paid test sample (through a fixed price contract) but he is making it a term of the contract that he will ONLY pay you if he likes the sample. If not, he will request a refund for whatever price he was offering, and the freelancer will not be paid at all!
Guys, be very wary of this - a paid test sample is a great way for a client to see your work for a low cost. You do a sample and get paid, they get a custom sample of your work to determine if they want to hire you for a bigger project.
It is NOT free work that a client pays you for IF they like it!!
Thank you for this helpful information! I am very new and actually haven't finished my profile yet. Received an invite for an interview, however am very leary as they state the job is "outside oDesk" though they don't say the pay is, that it can pay up to a much higher rate than one would expect for a straight data entry job, they want you to add them to your Yahoo messenger so they can interview you. Also this poster just signed up today and this is the first job they've posted.
It all sounds good, (this is from **edited for Community Guidelines**?) except being a newbie I don't feel comfortable doing anything outside of oDesk at this time, not even an interview. I did look up **edited for Community Guidelines**. Am I being too cautious?
I can absolutely guarantee you that the invite you received is from somebody who is trying to scam you.
They are either trying to get you to do work for free, or they are trying to obtain your identity information so they can use it to create fake identities, hack into your personal and financial accounts, or otherwise do something nefarious.
Furthermore, if you continue to work with them, it is likely that your oDesk account will be flagged, suspended, and eventually terminated.
There are about six warning signs that I was able to glean from your description. I will let other members of the Community Forum identify them if they would like, but I'll give you one: Yahoo Messenger.
Legitimate oDesk clients do not use Yahoo Messenger to communicate with contractors. Only scammers use this.
Okay, okay, I can't resist mentioning another one. (Sorry other Forum members, I'll let you point out the remaining ones if you want to.) You said "Also this poster just signed up today and this is the first job they've posted."
LOL. This is NOT the first job this "client" posted. This client has posted literally hundreds of "jobs" on oDesk. But they are all scam jobs, so this person is continually being booted off of oDesk, only to come back again and again by creating yet another new fake account.
When you see a job posting like this from somebody with no established track record, then you know it is a scammer.
If a client was a real first-time client then they would communicate with you via oDesk messaging (not Yahoo Messenger!) and they would quickly verify their funds if their account did not yet show that they were funding-verified, and they would NOT be sending an invite to you before you have done other jobs and before you have even finished setting up your profile.
1) payment method not verfied (not a no-no on its own, but certainly when part of a bunch of problems like this, and
2) suggesting in any way that you work outsuide of oDesk (well, technically, only getting paid outside of oDesk. This ius a capital offence.
(Well done Marcia by the way - you've passed the first test. Now keep those radar detectors polished and switched on anmd you'll be OK...)
two more now anyone?...
Well... technically I may have alluded to more than two already... So in an effort to avoid confusing anybody, here is my complete list of warning signs from what Marcia experienced:
1) INVITING NEWBIE: Real clients do not send invites to newbie contractors before they have any experience and before they have finished creating their profiles. (Actually, real clients rarely ever send invites to newbie clients).
2) OUTSIDE ODESK: Job was mentioned as being "outside oDesk"; a real client would never say anything like that.
3) PAY NOT SPECIFIED: "don't say the pay is"; if a real client is inviting you to a job, they specify what the pay will be
4) HIGH PAY FOR DATA ENTRY WORK: the pay "can pay up to a much higher rate than one would expect for a straight data entry job"; There are millions of contractors on oDesk offering to do data entry work. There is no reason a real client would offer "much higher" than necessary to somebody who has no demonstrable skill or experience different from millions of other candidates. Unless they are trying to "hook" you and scam you.
5) they want you to interview via Yahoo Messenger
6) NEW CLIENT WITH NO TRACK RECORD: "this poster just signed up today and this is the first job they've posted"
7) FUNDING IS UNVERIFIED
😎 UNIDENTIFIABLE NAME: this is from GMA?: the client account is not clearly identifying who they are, but they are hiding behind a cryptic 3-letter identifier which could be anything and is impossible to look up on Google. You think it might be "Grocery Manufacturers of America", but really have no idea. (Hint: this client is NOT Grocery Manufacturers of America.)
9) TRUST YOUR FEELINGS, LUKE: "I don't feel comfortable": always a good sign that it's a scam
Now, keep in mind that SOME of these things are OKAY. (For example, being a new client... Every client was a new client at some point.) But put all together, this is textbook, classic scam.
These guys are absolutely right. Your gut is telling you it is a scam, don't do it!
Basically, the easiest rule to keep in mind is just to make sure everything goes through an oDesk contract (either fixed price or hourly) and that they have clearly specified whatever your specific task is.
If anyone says they don't want to work through an oDesk contract, or they are asking you to deliver work BEFORE they put the contract in place, they're just scammers. Insist upon going through the contract. If they're creeping you out or you don't think they're going to pay, flag the job application and get out of there.
I've found that most people willing to do things through oDesk contracts are legit - it's much, much harder to scam people if you do so because even for fixed price jobs, they have to be able to put the payment into the system when they make up the contract.
Very helpful, thank you. This morning I was asked to verify my ID, so I am glad I read this. However, I was wobdering how to register my ID on Odesk and when or if i should or need to. Thank you again, I am new to this and I am looking to set myself up for sucess the right way.
@Eva S wrote:
wow you just described all the jobs i see , guess i should move on somewhere eltse
Eva, there are scammers posing as 'clients' and scammers posing as 'freelancers'. It would be funny if a scammer client hired a scammer freelancer, but it probably takes one to know one. I've been at oDesk for many years, and never taken a job I didn't get paid for, so if you're careful you'll be fine. Remember only work when you have a contract and only accept payment through oDesk, and if it's a fixed price job make sure the client has a verified payment method.
I am new, and just shy of profile approval, but the one thing that strikes me as odd is the job postings that look like they're just a message addressed to one individual (by name). This is clearly a mistake, but then, people apply to these!
I've noticed there's no option to flag these as inapropriate (from the existing category choices), but I've seen quite a few of them.
Welcome to the oDesk Community, Anick!
Sometimes clients choose a wrong setting for their job posting visibility and post a job publicly when they meant to post it privately. Please, flag such postings as "Job is in wrong category" and oDesk representative will reach out to the client and help them adjust the settings.
Hi, I'm new here at oDesk. I just want to know when will a new job gets reflected on "My Job" page. If there's a contract for fixed price jobs, when should that be created?
Well, I applied for a job posted by this employer. His payment method is oDesk verified and said that he'll give me assignments on Monday. The instructions for the job were very clear and well-enumerated. However, it bothers me that he didn't answer when I asked how I am going to be paid (if it's weekly or per approved batch). Plus the fact that we didn't create a contract. He just said that he has budget for that. Should I ask him again about it or just wait until Monday? I even searched the web for his name and registered business name, but to no avail. Could have been better if this were an hourly job, but it's not.
Ask him to make you a job offer. Only accept it if you're happy with the terms. Then and only then, when a contract is in place, should you do any work. Do not under any circumstances work without a contract, or accept or even talk about payment by any other method than directly through oDesk. Do not let the client talk you round any of this, or you'll be setting yourself up for a crash.
Thanks Preston, I'll take note of your tips. On Monday, I was asked to start working without a contract. So I decided not to continue just to be safe. It must have been a big gamble since the job is pretty demanding and laborious. I don't know how would I react if I didn't get paid for it.
Yesterday I spotted that the person who scammed me on my 1st day is still here, and doing well as a freelancer. Since he contacted me on Skype, odesk say there is no evidence to prove it. If anyone can think of any way (He blocked me, so no Skype record either) to drop him in it, please let me know.
There are a few things I've noticed since joining oDesk.
1. Poor item description. If someone put a couple of words or talks about how they're a great designer, I usually flag them on the spot.
2. Payment not verified. Clients should be verified BEFORE posting a job request. This also leads to #3 ...
3. Clients that do not respond at all and/or do not tell you you were not hired for the job. This is a waste of time for all of us. I've had job applications where nobody replied in days or weeks.
4. Ridiculous rates. I understand some designers in other countries can work with rates as low as $5 - $10 (U.S.). However, when clients propose $1/ hr fixed price for a job I find that ridiculous. We are not chopped liver. The minimum rate should be raised for hourly and fixed rate jobs for all clients.
5. Redesign a logo. This is where it gets tricky. If it's their logo I'm fine with it. When it's a trademarked or copyrighted logo, I don't bother with the job at all. The thing is that people in other countries don't know much about copyright laws which is not a good thing.
6. "Finish my project immediately." Designers should avoid these jobs. If they are holding up progress or want additional changes which causes the delays, it should be their fault. If the score of the designer is low, I feel that the designer should be able to dispute that claim.
I am completely new to this, but I wonder, why aren't these jobs monitored before they reach the freelancers? For example, I've been going back and forth with one job offer, and frankly I'm getting tired of it and doubting whether it's worth it. Here is the latest reply I just received:
**edited for Community Guidelines**
First red flag: "she is currently online" and "please contact him." Being a newbie here, this is discouraging to say the least.
It's also disturbing to me that I am obligated to contact these "parties" via Yahoo!. From my experience, Yahoo! is a less than professional method for communication. Is this the norm? (Years ago, I had a Yahoo! e-mail address, but I deleted it because of the smut I was receiving in my inbox. I haven't missed that experience one bit.) Isn't my profile enough for them to view here on oDesk, and shouldn't they be contacting me? I feel as though I'm being put into a compromising position by having to contact them, especially through salacious Yahoo!.
I've only just begun, but I can't help but feel leery of what I've experienced so far.
Any advice as to what I should do? Do I need Yahoo! Messenger?
You have passed the first task and verified that your radar is intact and working fine. These kind of jobs prey on gulible newbies, and there will always be some who will fall for it.
So, keep it switched on, and if you think something feels wrong follow your gut (ask on here as well - we've seen it all before).
to second Preston, I have any number of clients who chat through skype and one through gmail, but none by way of Yahoo messenger. I *did* work long ago for a client who used yahoo messenger and in the end turned out to be a shady character.
I was suprised to learn* that Yahoo! Messenger is still a thing -- one of my earliest contacts with a client on here was I guy who insisted on using it, but when I pointed out that there was no longer a Mac version he hurled abuse at me. I also had a guy earlier asking for my phone number which seemed a bit odd so I gave him my Skype ID (cheaper than a phone call, and less risky) and I've not heard a peep out of him since.
I used to make a hobby of baiting 419 scammers so I have some fairly sensitive wideboy detectors, but I imagine anyone for whom English is not their native language or who are keen to impress may find it trickier to spot; it's not really oDesk's fault -- every corner of the intrnet is filled with menace -- but (as with my earlier rambling) there must be some way of slightly improving the standard of the client base...
* Not as suprised as I was to find that AOL is still an ISP, but surprised never the less.
I have found that nearly all the jobs posted on here are scams. I have stopped applying because I don't have the hours it takes to rummage through all the junk jobs to try to find one that might be legitimate. I am sick of applying for jobs and then have them come back with something totally different than the job they posted. Odesk needs to clean up the garbage, or it won't have any freelancers left. Oh, and one more clue that the job isn't worth your time is when they say they need to hire X number of freelancers. Those are usually the jobs where they are wanting to pay someone 20 cents for 100 words.
O'Donna R wrote:
Oh, and one more clue that the job isn't worth your time is when they say they need to hire X number of freelancers. Those are usually the jobs where they are wanting to pay someone 20 cents for 100 words.
O'Donna, sorry to hear about your difficulties. I hope oDesk intends to refund the Connects used to apply for a scam job, and they better not say it's the freelancers job to avoid applying to scam jobs.
I don't think I've applied for a job where they're supposedly hiring a number of freelancers, and now I won't bother looking at those, so thanks for the tip.
re: "I have found that nearly all the jobs posted on here are scams."
There is a difference between "nearly all the jobs you apply to" being scams, and "nearly all the jobs on oDesk" being scams.
The cold, hard fact is that not all job skills on oDesk are equal.
None of the invites which I receive and none of the jobs I apply to are scams.
You work in a job area which is plagued with scam job offers.
But you may need to accept the fact that oDesk is a platform desgned for technical professionals, which allows writers to use the platform as an adjunct skill area, but that is not the platform's core competency.
I had all the warning signs as listed. I knew better but it was my first client so I took the job out of eagerness. I spent money out of my own wallet for certain software, worked for 3 days, got paid for one day and got a 1 rating. Ive never gotten a rating or feedback like that in my life. I'm beyond discouraged. I sense the guy knew I was starting out.
Anyway. This post actually makes me feel a little better. My career here is kinda done. No one is going to hire a one star rating.. But it's a great learning expeience for the world outside of online freelancing.
I see that you have already contacted Customer Support to report the client. I would also recommend you attach some screenshots of messages from that client where he or she asks you to purchase the software.
I am really sorry your first experience on oDesk was negative, but I am sure you will be able to get past it and become successful on the platform.
Good information. Thanks.
This information is very beneficial for newbie or even for old freelancers too.
I would suggest to Odesk to always email such things via email to newbie, that they can learn more that how they have to work on Odesk.