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nleger
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.

ACCEPTED SOLUTION
andregutierrez22
Moderator
Moderator

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!

~Andrea
Upwork

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1,396 REPLIES 1,396
aalia
Member

thank you very much... maybe this is the right time and place for working online... thanks for the advice...
shekhargholap
Member

Thank a Lot! Its the best post here. And it was really helpfull
lexis84
Member

thanks for the advice and I really appreciate for what you have written on how to get a first job. And I am not really good at it as you see this is my first time to sign in on odesk. I hope I can manage my own time on my work. Well, being a first timer you will practically curious on how to get a good job and being hired from other companies. But this things should help and can make a guide on being interested to find a job.And I'm very thankful to you and I hope that you can give another advice to have another way to go in this way.
ddanatzk
Member

specifically about the oD policy regarding identifying photos. For some time now, my profile has included my business logo rather than a photograph. Just this morning I received a polite notice/reminder that logos are unacceptable; only photos may be used. In response, I promptly deleted the image of my logo, so now my profile reflects no graphic representation relating to me or the services I provide. While I understand oD sets their policies, in my experience, organizational policies have always been developed and based on a defined rationale describing the perceived need, purpose, and/or intent the policy is to achieve or protect against. Although I fully understand the potential benefits of "putting a face to a name", there are reasons for, or circumstances under which, photos simply might not be appropriate or desired by a contractor, such as in cases of disfigurement due to accidents, disease, surgery, deformation, burns, etc., or a need for privacy due to domestic violence issues, child-protective orders, or witness protection, or previous employment by, or even vague association with, certain government agencies, or prior government service. With such circumstances in mind, photos could actually be a disservice - indeed, a danger - to a contractor, and possibly those close to him/her, yet, by having logos barred as a substitute or replacement, contractors might well be left with incomplete profiles and no graphic representation of the services they provide. In other words, it seems they are penalized by not being able to make full use of the resources available to other contractors, despite similarly relative contributions to oDs' "bottom line". I'd love to have the rationale for this policy explained in detail, so all contractors and employers might better understand why contractors' profiles might be considered "incomplete" for lack of a photograph.
pingsnet
Member

he he...
lindapearson
Member

Thank you for this article. I found and read this when I first started about a week ago. I appreciate your writing it because it gave me the steps I needed to take in order to successfully get started here at oDesk. Although I have not received any offers yet, I know I am promoting myself professionally thanks to your advice and instruction. Best wishes

thank you, i hope we get our first job, i am still waiting..........
rbaraquil
Member

Thank you very much.... it help me a lot reading this....
sir_rodner
Member

Your are really great, thanks a lot!
gmandigma
Member

hi! i'm new here at Odesk and your post was really helpful. I learned a lot from it especially the part where you gave tips on writing the cover letter.. Hope to read more from you..
henzenrevilla
Member

I forgot to thank you. I have read this 3 months ago and it really helps me a lot!
koolindia
Member

hey guys,i am new here ,please some body help me.i am not able to understand.any body help me??

Naomi, This is an excellent post. By far the best advice I have read to date! If you have a moment, might you take a look at my profile? I have been seeking feedback in that I sincerely appreciate that every culture has its norms. I simply do not know the norms here. Any pointers you might offer would be so appreciated. Thank you. Connie
stephengomez
Member

Thank you very much for this wonderful post! This is a good advice for newbies here at oDesk. I am aware of the fact that including questions about the job in your cover letter will increase your chance of having the employer interview you because, most likely, they will answer the questions you will ask. It just made me smile that your post confirmed that I am beginning to think like an 'oDesk veteran'. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here are my thoughts: (This is not a separate post. Just an idea from a contractor's point of view.) Employers go to oDesk to look for contractors. They are the ones looking for people to work for them. So, never, as in NEVER beg for a job! Employers want the service of contractors for oDesk and they are craving for it. They want your service. If not, then they would have not posted a job at oDesk, on the first place. Don't hesitate to ask questions. It is the responsibility of the employer to clarify all points about the job they posted. Asking questions mean that you are interested for the job and you are detail-oriented. But don't ask silly questions like the example given at this post. Well, these are just some additional thoughts on how to land your first job. Hope this might help. :) @nleger: Please feel free to give necessary feedback about my reply post. ๐Ÿ™‚
marzan
Member

Hello nleger, Pls see my profile,any thing wrong with my profile,pls suggest me about my profile. Marzan Bin Hanif
dependable2
Member

Tips on how to get the first job by the original poster are very valid and are the necessary first steps. Here are my thoughts ($0.01 worth)on what to do next: 1) As someone new to oDesk, consider the experience as a numbers game. Don't expect that your employer will find you and your almost perfect profile from the thousands of available providers. It's like finding the needle in the haystack. It could happen but the probability is close to nil considering you don't have oDesk history. Once you signed in, you are allowed only two (2) apps per week. To maximize your chances of getting hired, you must pass the ODesk ready exam first(Don't take the other ability tests yet). The oDesk exam has no time and number constraints. It doesn't matter how many times you fail this test, you can hide the "failed" results. The important thing is just PASS it! Once you pass this exam, you are now allowed to submit twenty (20) apps per week. You have now increased your hiring chances by 1000%. Think of it this way: You are in the foul throw lane of a basketball game. Instead of the regular two free shots, you are now given twenty shots. What are the chances of you making just one shot? 2) Take the side of and think like an employer. Buyers post their needs in oDesk because they don't want (or can't afford) a full time employee. Maybe their needs are only temporary; perhaps we're not directly dealing with them but just sub-contractors. We don't have much on the profile of the employer to make an intelligent offer, but it will help if you submit bids which are below non-virtual or real world rates. With this in mind and understanding their needs, you can polish your cover letter to impress upon the buyers that you are their best choice. Also, while waiting for any calls from employers, try to familiarize yourself with the oDesk team program. I wish oDesk will provide us with a live dummy company video presentation on how we can maneuver around the program and how to go about logging our billable hours, diary, etc. We can only get to practice it once we're hired! Not only do we have to contend with the confusion or problems in organizing our work for our first assignment, but we also have to deal with and learn how to log our billable hours, use the diary, snapshots, short URLs, etc. Please tell me if there's a simpler way.
deriellevc73
Member

your post is very informative and truly helps a lot in my endeavor in making my first hire in Odesk. Although i have not yet received payment on my first contract, and i am rather wondering if i will ever get paid, i have learned a lot though in the past few days of my stay here in odesk and more so when i read your posts. Thank you very much for sharing this valuable information.
alan_chen
Member

hi guy,that is great!!

I was an empty handed since I joined oDesk last October, 2010 but when I read your advice on how to get that first job and try to follow .... at last I get hired with a bonus and 5 stars feedback. I really want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH!
smacion
Member

i felt better after reading your post. i was starting to feel like a loser because im about to fill out the 20 applications and i havent gotten any jobs yet. goodluck to me
ckutsushi
Member

Nleger this is very very helpful information. Thank you
bickie
Member

i totally agree - with everything! because this is my style too! it has worked well for me: to ask questions in my cover letter (so that at least if the details of the project do not suit me, i spare the employer from interviewing me); to wait until a really interesting job comes up and not to work in half-hearted endeavors and half your hourly rate; to make your resume stand out from an ocean of bland CVs. as to the hourly rate, don't compromise, if you believe your effort is worth that much. just make sure to deliver when finally an employer sets you up with that hourly contract. and if you still can't land that first job, persevere. is this really what you want to do? then by all means, persist, persist, persist!
shalini_g
Member

Hi, As per your advice, I worked on my profile, job application and work sample as well and I got some contracts also. And my employers are really very happy with my work. But again interview invitation is stopped for me. Why this happed? Is it safe to send worksample to employers although I removed all confidential information from it. Kindly please check my profile and suggest me what is wrong? Thanks, Shalini
e_quemuel
Member

thanks 4d advice...:)
ferdous86
Member

Thank you very much for this helpful post. It will help me to fulfill my profile. I get some basic tips from this post.
munirahmad21
Member

wonderful! these will be really helpful. thanks
caltemus
Member

Just read your post and want to thank you for this information. I'm new to oDesk and still getting a feel for it. Looking at jobs and will begin taking tests this week. My question (or rather confusion) is why are the rates so low for some of the jobs ... $1.00/hour for some of them. Is it because a lot of these jobs are very short turnaround? Can you tell me where in oDesk I can find info. regarding what clients/employers are paying? Thank you and any help or suggestion would be appreciated.
ajjc
Member

This advice has served me greatly!
dellarobinson
Member

Thank you very much for the information because I am new, and your information really helped me to make sure that I am oDesk ready.
expuser
Member

Hi, I've applied for a job posting and was invited to join an individual online via Skype for I think an interview. We were scheduled to meet at 10EST. However, I got the times mixed up and showed up one hour ahead. We did get to speak and the conversation began. I was asked to go to a paticular website and open an email. It went well until I asked to located two areas, one on each site or page that was opened. (It was a link building job) I couldn't locate neither one of the items for a few seconds and then the gentleman cut in and said that he would have a chat with his boss, to find out if I was going to be hired. Well, I didn't get the job (Sad) and I wasn't sure what happened. My profile still shows the job posting as an active one. I didn't want to seem rude and ask questions of the individual and so I just thanked him for his time and considering me and I logged off. Help me, explaing this to me please. What happened?
hlumawig
Member

Hi, Great advice. Would you mind also to look at my profile and suggest for some improvements. I haven't get that first job since i joined odesk. Your comment and suggestion will be highly appreciated. Thanks. God bless you.
expuser
Member

Reading your post confirms I'm on the right track. thanks. Hopefully I can share something like this to newbies in the future.
anejaseema
Member

thanks for information. I am new in Odesk. I cant get projects till. can you please help me to tell me what should I write in my profile so get hired?
anejaseema
Member

Hi.. I make my profile public now please check out and give me suggestions... Thanks...

thank you so much im new also.
ykobure
Member

For starters, great advice you pointed out! Can't agree more to your thoughts there. I for one, an oDesk newbie, entirely clueless in this industry yet managed to receive an interview invitation for a job I never applied, couple of weeks after I created my account. Did I mentioned I have not even taking up the readiness test yet? I just populated the necessary information being asked; took up some tests; and attached convincing portfolios. I decided not to accept the job yet until I am very much aware of oDesk's terms from skin to bone.
mansoorkarim
Member

I am new in Odesk. I cant get projects till. can you please help me to tell me what should I write in my profile so get hired?
ykobure
Member

yup, I want most details, if not everything, crystal clear before engaging in any job. ๐Ÿ™‚
josieh
Member

Thanks a lot for that information, it is a question that many people ask themselves when they see their job application was declined, hope they see this. [url=http://www.qondio.com/products-directtohomeappliancescom-reviews-manufacturers]directtohomeappliance... [url=http://hubpages.com/hub/Some-luxurious-and-trendy-appliances-from-Directtohomeappliances]directtohom...
dianedeleon
Member

wow, thanks a bunch for this! this gave me so much insight on how i shld get started and get that first job. ๐Ÿ˜„