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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

Hi Rajeswari,


Welcome to Upwork. Here are some tips that i can share with you.


1. Update your Overview. Your overview sets the tone for your profile by showing off your personality and giving clients a reason to read more about your skills and experience. You may check this link for additional help.

2. Enhance and complete your profile.

3, Submit a winning proposal that is related to the skills you have. Check this link for details.


If you need more tips, I invite you to read up on this thread to help you improve your profile, and to be more successful on the platform.


Getting Started on Upwork

Community Member

Thanks for the tips. If possbile, could you review my profile? I feel, even though I have enough skills to sell myself here, I just couldn't land on that first job. Could someone just look at my Profile and try to give remarks as to what to be improved? Thanks. 

Community Member

Thanks for nice answer

Community Member

Hello Naomi,

I found your article while looking for something else and I LOVED all of your ideas. I do have one question that puzzles me and am not sure how to responde.


When a client sends me an invitation to apply for a job, I click the "Would love to interview, baby," but then I get to the "Message" area and I have absolutely no idea what to say.  They've seen my resume, my 5-star stuff, my portfolio, but frankly, I have no idea what to say except to rewrite my resume somewhat differently.  I'm sure this "Message" area is important for gaining an interview, but I end up with the usual; I'm highly interested in your position, I can work any hours you wish, I am highly adept at (whatever they're looking for).  I would love a quick answer, PLEASE!!



Cindey McGuire

Thank you for this text. I hope, I will success and wish everybody luck


Best regards

When I get invited to an interview I start by thanking for the invitation and for reading my profile. Then I write a cover letter matching the job description as I do for every job.

Community Member

Good day! I 'm new here also need a proper idea to get an invitation for job or interview.


Do You Have Any Idea To Get More Invitation for Interview for Newbie?

Community Member

I am a New freelancer how to get job..

Community Member

good morning, iam Mervil I want to work with us how i may apply for a job

Hello Atudert,


I just checked your account and I could see that you have a client account right now. However, you can be a client and a freelancer at the same time. You may learn more about that here. Thanks!

Community Member

Very good motivation.

Thanks dear!

Community Member

I am a copy editor and have been working in publishing for the past two decades. I'm wondering if the fact that I'm an Indian citizen as opposed to a UK, US or Australian one puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to getting English editing or proofreading jobs. Any thoughts?

Community Member

I've been set to private from lack of activity. I couldn't get any propsosals to be accepted, I have followed the instructions here and got nothing. This is my profile as it stands(Attached).


Thisi is a sample of my proposals:


With the utmost enthusiasm, I would like to express my interest in the WordPress Developer position. My interest in Web Development has taken me from developing dynamic publishing systems for an international advertising agency to helping a local fashion house atelier launch a new collection. I believe that my passion for web development, a strong commitment to problem-solving, and interest in research make me an ideal candidate.  As a passionate designer, everything I have engaged in so far has been driven by my keen interest in understanding new technologies. I make sure to dedicate some part of my day to research and learning. It is this passion that has driven every one of my career decisions thus far.  I look forward to contributing my skills and experiences to the WordPress Developer position and hope to have the opportunity to speak with you further about how I can be an asset to your team. less 

How do you fix the wordpress white screen where it says "Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Please check back in a minute." following updating a plugin?
 To start, test the plugins to see if it is causing the issue. To do that rename the 'plugins' folder under 'wp-content' to something other than 'plugins' so that WP will ignore it. If the site returns, then there is a plugin conflict, once that has been established, change the plugins folder name back to 'plugins' and start renaming individual plugin folders to see which one is causing the conflict. In this case I would start with the plugin that was just updated, hopefully, it was just one plugin that was updated. Updating plugins one at a time in good practice to ensure you know which one caused an issue like this. So, for example, let's say you updated the 'advanced-custom-fields' plugin. Rename that to 'advanced-custom-fields.issue' to see if your site returns to normal. If it does, then this is the plugin that is causing the problem and you will have to see why checking things like version compatibility is a good start. less 

Have you worked on volume projects before? Where you may work on 20-30 sites a week? Are you comfortable with that amount of work?
I have not worked on volume projects where the load was 20-30 sites in a week. I do feel very comfortable with that level of work.

Please explain why you feel you would be a good fit for this job.
 I am focused and detailed, and a quick learner. I may not have worked on the volume of work as described but I have and continue to work on a wide variety of projects and know how to quickly switch tasks. I understand HTML/CSS/JS very well and can work within those very comfortably. 


I don't know what I'm doing wrong here. I've been trying for over two months. 

Hi Frederick,


I just set your profile visibility back to public. Keep in mind that freelancers are hidden from the search results but clients to who you have submitted a proposal will be able to view your profile. You can check out more info about this here.

You may want to consider checking out these helpful blog articles to help you write winning proposals, improve your profile and tips on how to be successful on Upwork. 

You can update your profile and edit your profile overview, expand it with your new skills and experiences. Take a few tests and add some portfolio items to showcase the new skills you have acquired.

Afterwards, if you have any questions feel free to follow up in the Community and we'll gladly help you with them.

~ Bojan

Thanks for the tips, nothing seems to be working though... 40 applications, so far I've landed one job for a total of 5 hours of work. The 5 star rating and glowing feedback I received have done nothing to help actually land another job. I've spent much more time trying to find work through Upwork than I have actually getting paid to work.Looking back at jobs I've submitted proposals for, most of the 'Expert' level proposals restricted to US only have low bids in the $3-5 range - either there are lot of people providing expert service far below minimum wage, which I find hard to believe, or foreign workers are bypassing the US only restrictions somehow. Either way, its extremely disheartening - as an Excel specialist with 12+ years of experience, employed as a federal program analyst in charge of developing tools used agency-wide, I should be able to land projects at least every now and then...

Also, it looks as if failing to respond to the spam invite I received to attend sporting events to collect data is hurting my response rate...

@Jon W wrote:

Also, it looks as if failing to respond to the spam invite I received to attend sporting events to collect data is hurting my response rate...

You have the option to decline an invite, it's a one-click process and it counts as a response.


Jon, you need to work on your profile, and probably on your proposals too. Your profile is a wall of text full of useless information. Use English, talk to the client. Tell them about your experience,  but not by enumerating what you know and what you did. Do it by explaining how such and such experience or knowledge can help them.


Your proposals: never, never, never talk about yourself. The client doesn't care about you. He or she cares about what you can do for them. When the job posting contains enough information, tell them how you can help.


Marketing oneself is the hard, very hard 🙂


And one last thing: you're not competing against people who work for $3/hour. These people are not your competition and clients who seek these people are not your prospects.

"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

I agree John!  Especially when you say you've put in more time applying for work than actually working on Upwork.  I feel the same way and I sometimes wonder if Upwork itself isn't a false promise, bordering on scam scheme?   I think playing the lottery gives the same odds of landing real, sustaining/good paying work at this point.  I have been trying since February of 2017 and landed three writing gigs, one for an attorney, which paid the most: fifty dollars!  I try keeping it narrow to my specialties of voice-over and creative writing or blog writing - to no avail.  I have read all the "tricks" and revised my profile, substituted videos, etc - zip.  The only feedback I get is when I get the email that says, "Please note that a job that you have applied for, Introduction Letter, has expired or has been canceled by the client. Your proposal has been archived."      Maybe we should get paid for proposing!!

Ultimately, I think that I will likely give up on Upwork in disgust as I did with Gust and some other similar platforms back in the mid-2000s.

Bonne Chance to you!

Community Member

Wowwwwww...thanks a million for this insight. It has helped me greatly! I have completed my profile (100%) and I am happy about that 🙂 !  You just let me know that I am on the right track. Now I can continue forward! Take care!

Community Member

Thanks for your super article! Really helpful 🙂

Community Member


Very happy Thursday to you.

Really appreciate your post.  Read it to the end.  I feel encouagedby it.

I too am new and was wondering when I will land my first job.  Gonna make the adjustments to my profile etc.

Thanks a mil and blessings.


Community Member

Hey Naomi


Might Upwork consider:

1. Classifying some jobs as "for new users only?"

2. Set a time limit for persons to be considered as "new users?" 

3. Let persons poting jobs know and let freelancers know as well

4. This can be seen as spoon feeding but it could do a lot to encourage new users

5. Set a rate/cost/pay limit for these jobs

6. Allow a job poster to have only a small number (maybe 3) jobs classified for new users only.


What do you think?

Community Member

Wow! Thank you. You are bold

Community Member

Thank you for your advice, I find them so much of a plus, real informative. I'm going to try your way, and see if it works for me too. Thanks again.

All the best!



Can anybody give me an honest feedback about my profile?

re: "Can anybody give me an honest feedback about my profile?"


Your profile photo is wrong. Replace it.


Your profile page headline identifies you as a "C# and Delphi developer".


But the photo does not show a C# and Delphi developer. The photo shows a stand-up comedian.

Haha, nobody told me that before. Actually the picture is taken from a conference at which I was a speaker. I had NO idea I look like a stand-up comedian.


Thank you for your feedback. Will change the photo ASAP.

Community Member

Great tips! I shall take them under consideration, thank you!

Community Member

Is this relevant today? Any addition in light of the years which has passed since this was written?

Hi can someone rate my upwork profile please and give me constructive criticism please?



Community Member

Will J wrote:

Hi can someone rate my upwork profile please and give me constructive criticism please?



Your name is right there at the top of your profile, no need to repeat it, but rather use that space to dig right in and tell a client what you can do for them. Clients don't care how much you spend. The last sentence should be your first sentence.


And if you are an agency, you must set up with an agency account, not an individual contractor account.

I would lose the FREE comment, you can add that to your bids if you feel an RFP warrants that.


Finally, for the dollar figures you mention, your hourly rate seems low, and would give clients pause.

Hello Everyone,


I created my profile way back 2017 but never really focus on it until this month when i'm searching for an online platform that offer online work. I am new in Upwork and I have read several articles on how to get started. I've submitted several proposals on Data Entry jobs but I haven't received any feedback from the clients. Can someone help me out check if I have the correct profile? I dont have any porfolio that I can upload as of yet as I haven't gotten any project. I would really appreciate your help to kick-off my carreer in Upwork.




Community Member

i want to have a job

Community Member

it will help new freelancers to get invites for their first job.

Community Member

Very Helpful Suggestions ...


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!

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