Before I begin, allow me to first introduce two major oDesk terms to help readers who have never heard of oDesk or are just starting out in their career as a member of the website:
- Client – this is oDesk’s term for buyers who are seeking to outsource a variety of services to remote workers located around the world
- Freelancer - this is oDesk’s term for remote workers and home-based service providers.
Okay, let’s get started!
The oDesk Contractor Profile
On oDesk.com, one of the first things freelancers are encouraged to do is to create and improve their profiles. The profile is where you showcase your skills, certifications, education, portfolio items, employment history, and of course your work history and feedback on oDesk.
It’s online proof of your experience as a freelance professional, which is why you need to improve your profile as much as possible to be able to succeed in your applications and establish a good reputation on the site.
To put it simply, your profile is the bait that will catch the employer’s attention, despite the fact that hundreds of competing candidates have applied for the same job as well.
6 Profile Items Freelancers Miss
Sure, using fancy words and high-end descriptions about yourself can boost your profile, but there are nitty-gritty overlooked details in your profile that are actually vital to winning the job. Here are 6 items newbie and regular oDesk freelancers tend to miss out on:
- English self-assessment – Does the self-assessment score reflect the English writing and speaking skills of the freelancer? You can see this in the content of the profile already.
- Titles – How does the freelancer describe himself in his title? The title is the sentence beside his profile picture, ending in what type of freelancer he is on oDesk.
- Spelling and grammar – Some freelancers forget to proofread and edit their profiles for spelling and grammatical errors. Do you see any of these errors in your own profile?
- Overview – This section is your objective as a freelancer. It’s where you explain in a paragraph or two why you think clients should hire you and why you are the perfect match for the job. Sadly, freelancers often forget to improve this part of the profile and seem to be satisfied with vague descriptions and objectives.
- Test scores – Some freelancers take the free oDesk skill tests, fail, and leave them public on their profiles
- oDesk Readiness Test – Are you truly familiar with the system and the tools of oDesk?
- Hourly rate – Are you rating yourself way too low or way too high? Is your hourly rate both reasonable for clients and can compensate for all of your expenses?
We tend to get so caught up on applying for jobs and fighting with other bids that we forget that the profile can be the solution to winning that next project.
A detailed profile and a great cover letter are your weapons whenever you enter the freelancer battlefield, so take the time to complete, customize, polish, and finalize both your profile and your cover letter.
Improve Your Profile Based On These 6 Items
Now that we’ve uncovered the 6 profile items that are usually taken for granted, let’s have a look at these helpful tips, some of which are comments taken from on the oDesk forums, on improving your oDesk profile:
1. Assess your English oral and written skills with honesty.
Even if you are confident that you’re a 5.0, it’s not going to work if your profile is full of misspelled words, grammar lapses, wrong capitalization, etc.
Be as honest as you can be with this self-assessment score and rate according to how proficient you really are with the English language. Don’t be ashamed if it’s lower than a 5.0; in fact, take this as a challenge to study and brush up on your English skills for more effective communication.
2. Your title should be a short yet catchy description of what you do.
A vague or self-centered title isn’t going to attract clients.
Remember that you are part of a tough competition against real professionals from around the world. Start by asking yourself the question, “What do I have to offer?”
Use a title into something that will really highlight your skills. Webmaster, data entry specialist, tech writer, the list goes on.
3. Always, ALWAYS, check your entire profile for spelling and grammatical errors.
You don’t want clients to reject you because of such carelessness. It is issues like this that jeopardize your chances of landing good projects on sites like oDesk.
Ask a friend or someone with strong English skills to help you proofread and edit your profile if you are not confident with the outcome of your profile.
4. Your overview should already tell the client what you, the freelancer, can do for him.
Focus on your client by using “You” instead of just “I, me, me, me”.
Ask your prospects if they’re looking for a qualified and experienced freelancer. Tell them what it is they need and how you can help them achieve their goals.
To sum it up, end your overview with a call to action, which is to hire you for the project.
5. Publicize skills tests that have scored at the Top 10% or Top 20%.
Clients are after professionals who are great at what they do, so skills test scores that have made it to the Top 10% are valued.
Take tests that are related to your expertise. Hide those that are below 60% as these are not impressive and will not support your claims of being an expert in your field.
The good news though is that oDesk tests can be retaken every 30 days, giving you enough time to brush up, study, and prepare for better results.
6. Pass the oDesk Readiness test.
Passing the oDesk Readiness test is important because clients won’t tutor you on how to use the system. Their main priority is to get work done, so make sure that you know how the system works, have gone through the Learning Center, and are familiar with the oDesk Team 3, which is the desktop application used to track time worked on hourly projects.
7. Decide on a reasonable hourly rate for work.
Many freelancers complain about how unreasonable clients are with their budgets.
My suggestion is to set an hourly rate that you know is worth the time, brain power, and money spent on the project. Don’t decrease your hourly rates to a measly $1/hour to $5/hour just to beat the competition.
The Next Step
These tips are based on experience, opinions and advice contributed by experienced oDesk freelancers, and even from the oDesk Help Center. They are not meant to dictate how you create and build your own oDesk profile.
What may work for me or for others may not work for you, so it’s up to you to decide how you will improve your oDesk profile. You can also visit the oDesk blog for more tips and advice.
How long has it been since you analyzed and edited your oDesk profile? Is your profile attracting good projects?