In August, I will be two years in Odesk. I joined the site while I was in the Philippines and it has been an on and off work for me by choice. I have accumulated 673 hours so far not including those non-hourly jobs I have accepted. I withdraw my oDesk payments weekly to be sent to my bank account or PayPal account. Here is the link to my profile so you can assess my work experience from oDesk yourself.
Even my husband who is an SEO, more experienced than me, take consultancy jobs in oDesk. While my friend Joy has worked 876 hours since April of 2010.
The way oDesk works is that employers will post jobs which can be paid hourly or fixed rate. Then contractors like us will apply to these jobs. oDesk will then get a little percentage for whatever is paid to you. Hourly jobs are tracked through a software and is more guaranteed, while fixed rate jobs don’t require a tracker but is risky.
So far, I’ve been happy getting work through oDesk.
If you plan to find online jobs through this freelancing website here are my tips, which helped me get jobs through this website:
- Complete your profile. Make sure that even if you are a newbie your profile is complete and there is something to see there when a prospective employer checks it. Attach your bank or PayPal account where you want to get your payments later.
- Upload a picture that your face can be seen. Please make your profile look more professional by letting your prospective employers see how you look. It does not need to be taken in a photo studio but at least make your face be seen. Do not upload tiny pictures where we need a magnifying glass to look at it. I am guilty of the latter for some reason but I uploaded a better picture now.
- Take the oDesk readiness test. So you will make yourself familiar in how oDesk works. If someone already showed you how it works, still take the oDesk readiness test to make prospective employers trust you that you know how oDesk works.
- Take Other Tests. I finished 20 tests when I started. I believe as a starter I need to impress my prospective employer with tests. So, give your best when taking these tests even you may find some of them ridiculous. The higher your scores are the better. You can hide test results if you didn’t like your score. Taking the tests actually helped me a lot since they found me more credible and it also increased my limit for job applications.
- Apply on simple easy jobs first. If you are having a hard time getting job interviews on jobs with your skill level you can get lucky applying on jobs with low skill requirements. The way you stand out is with your application letter. Also find job postings that accept newbies.
- Do not send samples that you need to spend time on. Only send samples from your previous projects. Usually, employers who ask free samples are tricking you.
- Send custom application/cover letters. Do not use templates when sending out your application letters. Read the job description carefully so that you can make a personalized application letter. Some employers ask questions so answer these as best as you can. Attached files that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Reply as soon as you can when you are invited for an interview. Usually the employer asks how else they can reach you, perhaps Skype, GTalk, or Yahoo Messenger. If they didn’t ask you can offer them how they can reach you and ask when the interview will be. Some interviews just happen inside oDesk, exchanging emails. During this process you are usually asked for more proof of your work or assessing if you understand the project. This is also your time to examine the project closely.
- Do your best on job interviews but don’t overdo it. Interviews are done online, on chat or voice. You have to express to your employer why you are better than other applicants but make sure you can prove these claims. Lying about your skills will backfire you when you cannot complete a job or you turn the project to them with horrible outcome.
- Be honest when working especially on hourly rate jobs. Do not play Facebook games or chatting with your friends while your oDesk hourly tracker is running. And please do not extend a 20 minute job to an hour job. You are wasting your employers money and even making yourself dishonest. Your employer might generalize that online Filipino workers are dishonest which will make our reputation embarrassing.
- Do not ask your employer to lend you money. No matter what your circumstances are in the Philippines, do not attempt to borrow money from your employer. Yes, your employers are foreigners and earn more than you do but it does not mean you can abuse them by asking money. They even not know you in person and this behavior is not professional. (Yes, this one happened, an employer shared his experience to me.)
- Do ask your employer if you don’t understand something about your work. It is better to know the right thing than working on something you don’t exactly know how and end up annoying your employer. Rephrase the instructions and ask if you have rephrased it right.