» Forums » New to Upwork » Re: How to get your first project as a freela...
Page options
Community Member

Want to get that first job? Then check this out...

Okay... there are a lot, and I do mean a lot, of posts asking about how to get that first job. I check these posts from new people who are asking "why can't I get hired" and when I go to look, their profiles aren't even filled out, no tests are taken, or what is filled out is just filled with mistakes. To top it all off, there are just as many contractors handing out bad advice.


That's not to say that my advice is the absolute best; nor will it work for everyone. But it's a system that works for me, and has been working for me since I joined oDesk. If you really want to get that first job, hopefully this will at least serve as a starting point for you. My hope is that other oDesk freelancers will read and add to this posting any thoughts on what works for them that might be different from what I post here. So, going through step by step to landing that first job...


1. Set up your profile! Yes, a lot of people come to online sources because it's easy and convenient - but that doesn't mean that they want to completely give up the personal experience as well. Your profile is what will introduce you as a person as well as an applicant to the people reviewing your cover letter. Make it count.


  • Overview - One of the most important parts of your profile is your overview. It should introduce you to the client and establish your objective. Use this to set you apart from other contractors. "I write fast and can get the job done quickly." So what! Chances are, 90%-95% of the other applicants can, too. So how are you any different? "I want to be the best provider to my clients." Again, so what!? This doesn't help you at all because everyone else says the same thing. Not to mention - it should be a given that you want to provide the best service. Your overview should answer the question "why you should hire me over the other guy" ... If it doesn't answer that question, it's not a good overview.


  • Picture - After all, they speak a thousand words, right? It's not a requirement to have a picture, but it does help. Make sure you follow oDesk's identity policy when choosing a picture to post - but in general, any picture of you with a smile on your face will do wonders for you. People like to put a face to a font... So give them one.


  • Hourly Rate - I hate to say it, but there are a lot of clients that will look at your hourly rate. I am not talking about whatever rate you bid on a project, but the rate that is displayed on your profile. This rate should reflect the level and quality of work that you provide and should be a fair reflection of a going rate for the field / category you are interested in working for. Is there a difference? Of course! Can you expect to get paid the same amount of money for site scraping as you can for writing articles? Probably not unless you are the best darn web scraper in the world (and can back it up!). If you're not sure what to set your rate at, look through at other providers, or go through the oConomy pages, figure out how much you would be paid for the exact same job at an office, or do a search to see if you can find out what the average going rate is for that field and adjust that average to reflect your experience level.


  • Resume - Also important because your resume houses all of your skills. Are you a web designer? Great! Then post your CSS, PHP, Javascript, Drupal, Joomla!, and Wordpress skills! A lot of clients search for providers based on these skills - how will they find you if you don't have them listed anywhere on your profile? And your resume is the perfect place to showcase these skills because it allows you to also place a brief description of how you have used this skill in the past and display how long you have been using it.


  • Take and Show Tests - Some clients won't even look at you if you're not oDesk ready - so take that test! Beyond that - take any other test that will help show just how good you are at something. How is a client going to know that you're the best web site designer if the only test you took was an English skills test and a telephone etiquette test? Go to the oDesk tests and search for tests that are relevant to your field and take them. Then make sure you show the ones you need. Tests you happen to fail will automatically be hidden, anyway; But those tests where you barely pass, hide them until you can retake them and try again. Everyone is entitled to a bad day, no need to display for all to see that you are in the bottom 20% of people who took the test. Retake tests as you get the chance to raise your scores and show off your knowledge.


  • Build a Portfolio - This may be easier for some than others... But a portfolio is a great way to display your work. If you build web sites - place some links in there to web sites that you've built. If you're an artist, then throw together some logos and interface designs and place them up there. Writer? Post a link to your blog... Anything that will show examples of your work without violating any terms of service is good. Also important, once it's up - keep it updated. Check the links to those web sites to make sure they're still working and place up new examples of your work as you complete them.


  • Be Honest - If your English isn't a 5.0 - then don't rate it at 5.0... Clients will be able to figure it out and you will look like a liar. If you can't be honest about something like how fluent you are in English, why should anyone believe that you're being honest about anything else?


2. Once your profile is set, then it's time to sell your self to the clients. And by sell your self, I don't mean pay them for the privilege of working for them. I mean convince them that they should hire you and pay you what you want. So, how do you do this?


Cover Letters. Write a cover letter that

A) Proves you know what you're talking about,

B) Proves that you've read the job description,

C) Explains your costs and terms (such as how many hours it will take to complete, or how much money you will require upfront for a fixed rate, or any guarantees that you offer). And for goodness sake - don't send the same cover letter to each and every job posting. The clients always know. You aren't fooling anyone - so just stop. Never beg for a job... It makes you look desperate, not professional. Never lower your hourly rate to a ridiculous amount in hopes of landing a job (or worse, offering to work for free)... Again, it makes you look desperate and gives the impression that you don't deserve whatever amount you have posted on your profile.


Now, for me - and I know other contractors disagree with this (and that's fine) - I also include a paragraph within my cover letter that explains about the ability to contact me. I don't include my contact information - but I do let them know that I am available via Skype, email, and cell phone as well as via my oDesk message center. I also let them know that all of these messages are forwarded to my cell phone to help expedite communications (well, except calls to my cell phone - since that would be redundant). I include this because I would want to know how easy it is to get a hold of a contractor, or if I would be limited to just the oDesk message system.

Also, for me, I will ask all sorts of questions in my cover letter. Some contractors view this as unprofessional, and that's fine. Like I said - this advice won't work for everyone. But if there's a discrepancy in the job description, or if I just want to know more details than was given, I ask then rather than waiting for the interview. What does this do for me? In a lot of cases, the clients want to answer the questions, which gives them more of a reason to place me into an interview, which gives me a better chance of talking to them and convincing them that I am the best candidate to hire for their project. This doesn't mean just start asking any stupid question you can think of. "What's your favorite color?" will probably get you rejected. But asking a question like "Do you think you might also be interested in having Twitter integrated onto your site?" will raise an eyebrow. How else can you sell your self? Glad you asked. You don't have to rely on oDesk's search function to find jobs. Nor do you have to rely on the idea that a client will find you and invite you to an interview. Do you have Facebook, MySpace, or another site that you use? Find the little badges in your account and post them up! Chances are, one of your friends on Facebook might see that you are available for hire as a writer - and they might know someone who just wrote a book that needs editing.


And finally...

3. Bid often and Bid Reasonably Earlier I spoke about the hourly rate that is posted on your profile - now I'm talking about the hourly rate or fixed price rate that you enter onto the little application form that will accompany your cover letter. This bid can be different from what's posted on your profile - but it should still be reasonable. What do I mean by reasonable?


  • Make sure it is worth your time
  • Make sure it will cover your expenses (such as cost to withdraw)
  • If it is fixed price, make sure it reflects the amount of time you will be working on that project

Remember, it looks bad if your hourly rate on your profile says that you charge $10 per hour if you then bid on a project at $1 per hour... And you shouldn't let a client's budget dictate the level and quality of professionalism that you can provide. And bid often! I still continue to fill out my quota of 20 applications per week. *edited* The only time I slow down on my bidding is if I am beginning to get overloaded with projects. Don't send out just 2-3 applications and then get disheartened that neither one has accepted you yet. This doesn't mean sit down and apply to 20 jobs all in one day - spread them out. I read through just about every hourly job posted (I always filter out the fixed price jobs), but I probably apply to only 4-5 jobs every day, if that many. Be discerning - if the job isn't worth your time, wait a couple more hours and see what new jobs have been posted. It won't do you any good to apply to a job that you're only semi-interested in only to find a great job that you would love to work on but can't apply because you've reached your limit already. Okay - wow, this is really long. Hopefully this will help to get some of you started. But, long as this is - you also need to remember that this is not the most complete listing of advice, and it's not meant to be the end-all be-all or any sort of guarantee that following these steps will get you hired, just a system that works for me.


Remember to find your own niche - whatever works for you.


Hi all,


This thread has been closed from further replies due to its size.

Check out these articles to help you create a profile that stands out and improve your profile title and overview. For some great tips on writing proposals that win jobs, check out this article.


Visit our Resource Center and sign up for upcoming events and webinars to learn more about how you can boost your success on Upwork.


Thank you!


View solution in original post

1,396 REPLIES 1,396

hello i am sujith

How can I improve my profile to get my first job at Odesk?

i want to transfer my cash through wire transfer method, but when i am asked a security question about my car then clicking on submit it could accept . what is the solution to that?

Hi Noami, Well done! I am new with oDesk and your article seems really good tips for me to get started at managing my profile and how i can work with oDesk.

Hello Mohd , i am new to this site. pls help me to get some work

Very nice post. I'm applying in odesk for 1 years an still getting no satisfactory outcome. I'm offering reasonable rate & bidding regularly. How can I get a job in odesk. ***removed by admin*** Thanks. Al raji

Thank you! very helpful.

Very nice post. I'm applying in odesk for 1 years an still getting no satisfactory outcome. I'm offering reasonable rate & bidding regularly. How can I get a job in odesk. andrews

thank You Naomi N. this really helps me alot

I just felt like you were talking to me, I mean you pointed out so many of my mistakes.

Hi, I'm Srinivas Evuri. Its very useful oDeskers like me. I have less followed your advise till today. However I will appreciate if you take a look at my profile and see if I need to approach clients. Also will be glad if you can tell me how one view another contractors profile on oDesk. I am reachable on ** Looking forward to your reply. Thanking oDesk, Srinivas Evuri. *"Removed by admin"

Sir, I am good at typing. But until I can not got any typing job. How I got typing job. Thanks

try working on your english first

iam not getting first job ...please help me 


Community Member

Thank you so much .I know it is a great start for me.

Community Member

not bad at all!


thanks for the tips. i'll try to adapt!

Community Member

to up.

Community Member




I am Sukhpal my profile is 100% completed.


I cleared some skill test .


how  I get my  first job in upwork as a freelancer.



Please help me.




Sukhpal Kaur


Hi Sukhpal,


You may need to work more on your profile to make it stand out. You are planning to work in a very competitive category, so it's very important that your profile is attractive for clients. Fix errors with punctuation, spelling and sentence structure and make sure you capitalize words where appropriate. 


Check out the original post on this thread and other resources linked to this post.

~ Valeria
Retired Team Member
Retired Team Member

Hi Paola


See this Help Article, it contains all the resources needed for starting as freelancer.

Happy UpWorking!

~ Goran
Community Member

Late to the comment party here, but many posts for decent paying gigs on UpWork say "minimum approval rating 90" how does one get their very first project when you can't hit that minimum?

Is it just a case of "pay your dues" and do a bunch of low paying stuff to boost your rating, and hope they're not scams?

Hi Graeme,


You can apply to jobs that don't have a Job Success score preferences or even if the preferences are there but you are absolutely sure that you are a great fit for the job. Make sure to write outstanding proposals and keep your profile updated.

~ Valeria
Community Member

Cheers, I will take these hints to heed. I feel well informed after read your current posting I was anxious to pick-up a job and still have been wondering why I've not had a lot of responses. I think your advice might help. Best of luck.

Community Member

Hi, You have really helped me here. But I would need some more advices. I got my first project within no time and delivered it with good quality. Also got a good feedback. Since then, I have been applying for new ones. I didn't get any. Any suggestions please?
Community Member

Hi ,how i find job kindly tell me

Community Member

Thanks for the advice. I am new to upwork and I was wondering how to start out. \

It will be of great help

Community Member

Hi, guys can you check my profile and tell me what shall i add or remove? I am a first timer and really need experienced tips from you !


Community Member

Dear Sir


How I get first job on upwork. please tell me.



Upendra Kumar


Hi Upendra,


In order to start bidding successfully and winning jobs on Upwork, please go through the guides, tutorials, courses, videos, Help articles and Community discussions compiled in this thread, designed to help new users get started on Upwork.  Afterwards, if you have any questions feel free to follow up in the Community and we'll gladly help you with them.

~ Vladimir
Community Member

Community Member

Hi guys!


I'm new around here and as the others, I would like to know what's wrong with my profile. I have applied on multiples jobs but no one even looked at my profile.


I am french but I think my english skills aren't so bad...


Can you please give it a look for me?


Thanks a lot!

Community Member

thank you very mutch you are lovely you are so good 

Community Member

Almost all job posts have this statment:


Preferred Qualifications

Job Success Score: At least 90%

Include Rising Talent: Yes


As I am new, how can I be 90% successful? 🙂 

And there is no filter for these important things! I have to give all my day to find a relevant job as a new freelancer.


Sure it isn't "impossible" but it looks like that it is very difficult to find a job without any "contracted before" jobs

Yasin, I came here for the first time 2 weeks ago I think. The first week I have spent almost 40 connects to apply on some jobs that I really want to do. I had 2 interviews and both were scams.


Last week, I've proposed only to 1 or 2 jobs because I don't have a lot of connects left for the month and one of them gave me a chance. I received 5 stars, almost at the same time I've received an other proposition from the applications I did last week and 2 days later another one.

I write a proposal even if I don't have that 90% and over job success and even if I am still not a rising talent.

It takes between 5 and 9 jobs before having a job success score as I read in the FAQ.



Just a tip, when you bet for a job, bet your real price and not a discount price. If you bet 5$ on a job who's value is 100$ just to have that first job, you won't be taken seriously because next time you apply for a job, they will see on your profile which job you did and how much you were paid.


And your profile looks good to me.


(sorry for my English lol)

Community Member

Can you please review my profile? Why don't I get hired? 😞

Community Member

My case isn't like that. I'd really have done all that if I could. The thing is I am still a student. I became fluent in English and Arabic is my native language. I am skillful in writing too. Now when people write overviews, they are usually old freelancers or at least worked in a job of that kind before and the can easily get portfolios either from freelancing or if they worked in a job related to that specific field. And that isn't my case, I can't write that I have experience in this or that nor did I work in it before. Thus, I have no portfolios to show. Then how can I get my first job?

Ahmed, you have no excuse for not having a portfolio.


Create a portfolio!

With pleasure, but how? And will it be enough? What about the other points in my question?

The other points don't matter if you don't create a portfolio.


Hi Ahmed, 

I can see that you were able to include a portfolio on your profile. As you grow your career on the platform, you should be able to include your projects as part of your portfolio, provided your client gave you permission to add it. 

Since you are still new on the platform, I invite you to read up on the freelancer resources we have compiled to help you get started, and work successfully on the platform. 

~ Avery
Latest Articles
Featured Topics
Learning Paths