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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

View solution in original post

1,396 REPLIES 1,396
hellenn07
Member

Thank you for the advise. Joined recently but was almost giving up after 10 applications.
anilthapa
Member

I am feeling i missed something after reading this article so i am going to complete my profile base on this article. Lets see what happen later. overall this article is best
expuser
Member

Hello Naomi I'm a new user. I think your post will help lot of people like me. I hope I'll get time to time advise and help like this from you. Very good job indeed. It reflect your dedication and sincerity to the job. Thanks again Uttam
chaudhery786
Member

Hello there, I just couldn't believe this. I hope someone from oDesk might answer here. It would be nice, if you could give the exact details of that particular job opening(. It'll make things clearer than what we could understand from your side of the story. Thanks, Chaudhery Aqeel.
arvs78
Member

Hi Naomi, thank you for this. God bless.
mbarager
Member

I wanted to comment on the test part of the profile completion. One of the very best aspects of Odesk, is that their tests are FREE. Other sites charge for each one. I refer clients from other sites to my Odesk profile to verify my competencies, because I'll be d**^^ed if I'll pay to take them again. Take advantage of it. Have a cover letter handy that's adaptable, so that you can paste in most of it with a few additions or changes to customize it for a particular posting. Trust me, it's proven to be worth the effort. If you get the idea from a post that you can be totally frank with a potential employer, do it. Attach your pretty cover letter with some samples pasted below it. You'll be able to keep your formatting and pretty layout for everything. I thought the whole online job thing would be just another impersonal exercise in frustration (I'm pretty old and used to the pounding the pavement job hunting experience). However, I've found it to be just the opposite and that a "pull no punches", honest cover letter regarding rate, time and a reasonable assessment of the job, gets better results than a pretty cover I would have sent out in the mail a decade ago. Get REAL and good luck to all of us out here in our bedroom slippers!
waqas7006
Member

Thanks dear, it was really very helpful for new comers.
oxon555
Member

i am realy thankful to you becasue of this post full of advice. Though i am realy worry for not having any job here but i m hopeful that your post would increase my confidence.
blair-cindy
Member

I am fairly new on oDesk and at first I despaired of ever getting that first job. I joined on 1-13-11 and was lucky enough to get my first job on 1-31-11. When I kept looking for jobs, I would find jobs that had just been posted and before I could draft my cover letter I would discover that 3 or 4 people had already applied. The only thing I could figure out was that they were pasting in a standard cover letter and not tailoring it to the specific job. I have received three job offers without even being interviewed. I know for a fact that at least one of them never even looked at my profile. That is because my cover letter was tailored to the job and mentioned knowledge and skills that I possessed that made me the best candidate for the job. The job was writing content for attorney websites. All I had to do was mention my 29 years in the Criminal/Traffic court system, the fact that my father is an attorney, and that his parents were court reporters. That is all I needed to say. The most recent job offer I received, I was fortunate enough to be the first applicant. I kept track of the other applicants and checked out their profiles. What I found amazed me. There was one applicant who had no resume and the only test he had taken was the oDesk readiness test. He was new to oDesk. He didn't get the job. However, I found other applicants who had either not taken any other tests or very few tests, but found that they had a long work history on oDesk. That told me that it wasn't their profiles that got them the early jobs, but their cover letters. You should examine your life for experiences that you can place on your profile. Check out jobs that you feel you qualify for and check out the profiles of the other applicants. Learn from them. I will be getting my first pay for an hourly job (still on it) this Wednesday. (My first job was a fixed price job.) I will also be getting paid next week as well. As I have two jobs going, I have decided not to apply for any more jobs at this time as I want to do my best for my employers. To those who despair of ever getting that first job, all I can say is this: Take tests to show your skills Review and revise your profile Find things that you have done that can be added to your portfolio Be honest about what you are and are not capable of doing. Your employer will appreciate your honesty. Having a portfolio (even if there is only one item in it) will open up other jobs for you.
jliech
Member

Really loved the article. Joined oDesk about 4 years ago but due to lack of these insightful tips, left my profile idle until this year. I have landed a job already owing to this knowledge. Kudo's comrades.
mczyrus
Member

Thanks to a very interesting piece of advice.
fotosasa
Member

I think these tips are helpful, thank you
avery755
Member

I think you gave very solid advice. Although I am new to oDesk I have been an independant recruiting contractor for five years. I agree with you in giving various methods to be contacted at as well as asking questions because it shows your interest in the position. Thank you, Avery
expuser
Member

Thank you very much. This will help a lot. From the Philippines
tuaha
Member

Hi, I've tried to follow all the advice on your post and applied to a dozen jobs over the past few weeks but I haven't received a single offer yet. My profile is 100%, I've taken a number of relevant tests on oDesk, scoring in the top 10 or 20 percentile (in some cases, better than 100% of test takers, such as in MS Excel 2007) and I think my charges are a real bargain. Furthermore, my cover letters don't have any cut and pastes as I make sure I address the real concerns of the job to the best of my understanding. Any idea where I'm lacking? Thanks for your advice.
shangeet
Member

great post buddy... can work as a helping hand for newbies
bluehawk214
Member

thanks!
pchess36
Member

Hi Naomi, Your advice is what I needed, I will be making the necessary changes I need in order to acquire Odesk jobs.
expuser
Member

Good afternoon! I found an ad to this site on Facebook and, since I am a translator and interpreter, decided to take a look around. On creating my profile I get to the point where, to verify my identity, this site is asking me to upload a "valid government ID or passport" (or a copy of my bank account??). Now, in my well over 27 years of experience and over 15 years bidding online for jobs this is the first time a web site asks me for such sensitive and personal information. Regardless of this website's assurances of confidenciality I am a little worried about uploading this type of information (actual copies that could be counterfitted). Can people with a lot more experience working with this site give me your impressions and/or vouch for the safety of personal and confidential records on this site?
tahir_m
Member

Thank you very much for the advice which I believe will work for me ,am confident
sagoy
Member

Thanks, this post will help out a lot.
jltuazon
Member

Aww is that so unfair... x.x Darn, I should've put watermark on the logos that I made.. T.T Thank you for the advice. I'm still new here. Nice meeting you fellow kababayan.:)
eric-swanson
Member

Thank you so much for the superb advice outlined in your post. I never thought of asking questions in a cover letter! I'm rather new here at oDesk and was wondering if you could take a look at my profile and offer any comments or suggestions for improvement.. I have a bit of a problem in terms of building a portfolio, as my published books and the home education/online education course materials are the property of the respective publishers, while the work I created during my tenure as a Marketing executive was proprietary (and necessarily created, edited, and stored on company computers). Do you have any suggestions? (My published books can be viewed on Amazon.com,as well as other book retailer sites). All best, Eric Swanson
vanita_ailani
Member

Hi, I'm new to oDesk community and still to be hired. I've joined oDesk almost 2 months back and have taken various skills test depending on my interest level and have been awarded as well in couple of test. Though I constantly keep applying for suitable job postings, review and update my profile from time to time and customise my cover letter as per job/ employer requirements, however I'm yet to get hired on oDesk. Can you (Noami, Junelle or any other senior professional at oDesk) review my profile once and on basis of your experience and expertise kindly suggest me some tips on how do I get hired on oDesk. Thanks & Regards, Vanita Ailani
mafaith22
Member

That's the best part of being a good employee.It's not being the first time..It's the effort that counts. If you really need to get hired then do something. I am newbies to this site.I love odesk. I keep finding a real job that fits to me. thanks for the good advices..I will take it to you "experts" -Mafaith-
jonmanoloenad
Member

Thanks for this!!It really helps. I am trying very hard but not even getting a single job.

Hi Naomi, I love your post. I will review my account and I will use your post as reference. It's quite sometime now since I started oDesk and still no job offering until now. I came to a point of thinking that maybe home job is not my line. I know something is wrong with my profile, resume and approach so I will review on it. Thank you. Judith M.
sneza
Member

Dear Naomi your messagge is very important messagge for persons like me, newbies. It's normal we always know that we must to put all information, photo .... but you gave me also an idea HOW to do it. Ok and this is a first step. But there is also the tests and a lot of employers looking for the person who was done perfectly this tests. So I would like to ask you: can you tell me if exist the books on line where I can learn before I do some specific test, for exemple, customer service test, or email and telephone etiquette certification...? Because if is language test, I know that I must to see a grammar of this language and this is ok. If is some program I know that I must to do some schools or learn from the books where is this program about. But when is customer service test I don't know how to prepare my self. Can you help me? Thank you so much. Best regards, Sneza
nicolas84
Member

I have read your post and I thank you for it.I tried to make the necessary tweaks to my profile(do not know if I succeeded though). I would really appreciate any feedback and although I am aware many requests have been made,here I am,making my own:"Please take a look at my profile (Naomi,Junelle or anyone) and tell me if am going in the right direction and if I can improve anything". Any comments are welcomed and I wish to thank you in advance for them.
p_reed
Member

Naomi - I have no idea what you just said, - but just don't stop talking ... :-)
patrickandrew
Member

Thank you very much! Excellent work!!!
leisagood
Member

This is a great post, Naomi. A lot of good advice. It's sometimes the most practical, simple advice that gets overlooked. Thank you for reminding all us what it takes to be successful here.
virtue789
Member

Thanks I just signed up today and I appreciate your info. Something I would like to ask is how does the fixed price work at $40 for 400 articles per week does the employer expect to pay that as a one off, or per week? pls clarify. Thanks
samanenal
Member

Naomi this is seriously a great help for beginners...i didnt know much of the points u discussed ... Awesome job done ..keep it up! ๐Ÿ™‚
skrezaulkarim
Member

I like to thank you Noami from the core of my heart for the article written for all the freelancers and specially for the new comers to odesk. I am new and have not yet been hired (Once hired but immediately after starting the job was finished by by other contractors of the same buyer). Your article, obviously, will help me like others. I need your help and guidance to continue and get job. Would you pl. see my profile and advice me. *removed by admin* Regards
sue250
Member

I am confused, I have all of the aboved listed and no offers? I will not work for $1.00 an hours..... Help!!!!!!!!
anuradha_s
Member

thanx 4 the valuable information for a newbee lik me

The write up above is a good insight for beginners like us. It will certainly help us in searching better now. Thank you, Team Sushindiawriters

Thank you very much, I am very new here and this helps a lot. Thank you.
d-erfanty
Member

hi, I have joint odesk for quite sometime now but still haven't been hired. I wonder what is wrong with my profile, I admit I am having some difficulties in writing the objective. Another problem I am having is that I am an English-Indonesian translator, I cannot prove my ability since odesk does not provide English-Indonesian translation test. can anyone help me here? just check my profile please and let me know what I should do to improve it, and also how I can make a suggestion to odesk to provide the kind of test that I need, if it is possible. thanx guys