Friday, January 15, 2010

How To Get Hired On oDesk

oDesk is a tremendous resource for those seeking freelance work from home. It doesn’t matter if you are a freelance web programmer, a software developer, looking for web design jobs, or just simple data entry, oDesk is the place to find work you can do from home. Considering a 2nd mortgage or home equity line of credit to pay your bills? Don’t do it! Instead, take your skills and go to oDesk to make that extra cash. It can be a bit daunting to get hired on oDesk, but it can be done. Let’s look at some of the ways you can increase your chances of finding a work at home job on oDesk.
Your oDesk Profile
The first step, once you have registered at oDesk, is to create your profile. This will be your public face to potential employers (known as buyers in oDesk lingo), so it is a very important step. Make sure you choose your screen name wisely. Stay away from the cutsie names like PuddinPie4856, and socially inappropriate names (use your imagination). Pick something short and to the point. Think about the image that comes to mind when you say it out loud. If you upload a picture, make it a professional one. The next part of your profile is choosing your skills. Although you may be talented in many areas and willing to do many kinds of work, try to keep your list of skills focused. Avoid, for example, choosing data entry as a skill, when what you really want are web design jobs. Choose skills focused around the type of work you want. Next, you will be asked to state your average hourly fee. I highly recommend starting low, about half of minimum wage in your area. When you actually apply for a job you will state your desired wage for that particular position anyway. The only reason the wage listed in your profile matters is to inform potential buyers who may be surfing profiles. The last step in your profile building adventure is testing. Everyone has to take a standard proficiency test to be able to work through oDesk. This test is not difficult, but must be passed before you can be available to work. There are numerous optional tests that will showcase your abilities. Take as many of these as you can. If you score well, the scores will be displayed on your profile page. Lots of high scores are very attractive to buyers. Here’s a hint: Open a second browser window while you are taking a test. You can then search for answers when you get stuck.
Applying For a Job on Odesk
oDesk offers two types of jobs – fixed rate and hourly. There are pros and cons to both. A fixed rate job is one in which you and the buyer agree on a set rate for a predetermined task or amount of work. The advantage of a fixed rate job is that you know how much you will make in total. The disadvantage is that oDesk will not assist you should your buyer decide not to pay. I only work fixed rate jobs, and I have learned that they can be a bit risky. My general rule is that communication must remain open between me and the buyer until the job is complete. If the buyer stops responding to my emails, I stop working until he does. This doesn’t happen very often, but it has saved me from an unscrupulous buyer a time or two. Never accept work outside of oDesk from an oDesk buyer. There is no legitimate reason to do this, so you will get scammed if you agree to it, period. If you decide on an hourly job, you will have to allow oDesk software to run while you are working. It will take screenshots that will be used as your “time sheet” and for your buyer to check job progress. You can edit the screenshots, thus remove anything you didn’t want captured, but I find this to be a hassle. Most don’t mind it though; it’s just my personal preference. When you are looking for a job, only bid on jobs offered by buyers whose payment method is oDesk verified. This means they have a payment method on file with oDesk. These buyers are much more likely to be reputable. Read the feedback provided by previous workers. This can reveal a lot about the buyer, both good and bad. Pick a few small jobs and go ahead with the application process. Once you have oDesk experience, you can work your way up to bigger and better jobs, but starting small will allow you to build your provider reputation.
Your Cover Letter
As part of the application process, you will need to submit a cover letter to the prospective buyer. Make sure you create an original cover letter for each job. Avoid the temptation to use a template, buyers can spot them a mile away, and they hate them. Start your letter by introducing yourself and explaining why you want this particular job. Explain what skills you have that make you the right choice for this buyer. Tell the buyer why he should hire you, a newbie. You can do this by telling him about your work ethic, personality, education, etc. This is your opportunity to convince him to give you a chance to prove yourself. Next, include complete contact information, which should include an alternate email address, instant messenger ID, and any other forms of communication you wish to utilize. Note what times you are available to interview (include your time zone). Finally, thank the buyer for taking the time to consider you. Now that you have done all you can do to get a job on oDesk, you wait…and maybe wait some more. Keep applying for jobs daily. If you happened to get several offers, you can always politely decline the ones that don’t interest you.
General Guidelines and Tips
There are some very basic things to keep in mind when apply for a job on oDesk, or any other freelance site. They are subtle, yet can be deal breakers in such a competitive market. First, always use correct grammar and spelling. Don’t rely on spell check; it won’t catch many common errors. Instead, rely on your own eyes and ask a friend to proofread your work. Nothing will turn off a prospective buyer faster than slang and spelling errors. Don’t ever take on a job you aren’t really qualified for. If you do the job poorly, your oDesk reputation will suffer greatly. It isn’t worth the risk. Always be polite in your cover letter and interviews. Buyers are just like the rest of the world, some are more difficult than others. Keep a professional and friendly demeanor, no matter what. Don’t bid the same on freelance jobs as you would expect to get paid for a “regular” job. No one is going to pay you as much to work from home as you would get if you were driving to an office every day. If you consistently bid too high, the offers will stop coming. Be prepared to work, and work hard. You may be sitting in your sweat pants while you work, but you will work just as hard as you would in in office. This is not an easy buck, it’s a job. Now get out there and get hired on oDesk!


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