With over 3.1 million registered contractors and 1.5 million paying clients, oDesk sure sounds promising for someone who wants to start an online career.
But a lot of these registered contractors are still having difficulties finding jobs – or at least well-paying ones. Others have been lucky enough to land a regular gig but it might take them months or even years to get the next one. Others, with no luck, have lost interest and moved on.
Considering the number of contractors compared to the number of clients, you certainly get a lot of competition. Still, why do some fellow newbies get jobs, and why can’t YOU get a job at oDesk? Here are some reasons why…
You did not COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE
Excited to find work, you tend to skip the part where you need to fill out all the additional information needed for your profile.
Take note: creating an impressive profile is the key step in getting your very first job. Unlike regular employment, oDesk’s employer-contractor relationships are solely based on trust, and this will be communicated by your profile as a whole.
Fill in everything, upload a nice professional photo, add your employment history, your educational attainment, and any other experiences such as seminars you’ve attended.
Use a title that best describes you, create a brief and creative overview, upload some samples of your work and take some tests. The most important test you need to take is the oDesk readiness test, it’ll equip you with oDesk basics and it will also give you an additional 5 job application quota.
Last but not least set up your hourly rate. For newbies, it’s best to set a low rate. Obviously employers will opt to hire contractors with lower hourly rate. Depending on where you’re based and what your skillset is, $1 per hour is low enough. You can set a higher rate if you’ve proven your skills by getting good feedback and earning a lot of oDesk hours. In addition, if you’ve been patient enough and reached 100 hours, high paying and long term jobs will be more accessible.
Creating a good profile will also maximize your job application quota. Odesk users start with a quota of two that can be raised to 25 after completing your profile, reaching certain job hours and earning a 4-5 star rating.
You submitted a GENERIC COVER LETTER
I’ve come across a number of posts on oDesk from people looking for someone to write their cover letter template.
You will never get a job if you can’t even create your own cover letter! You don’t need to be a good writer to be able to create a presentable one. Good cover letters are catchy and brief. Write your basic information and recent achievements. Remember clients review your cover letter before checking out your profile, so don’t bore them with long nonsense and generic cover letters, make it interesting and direct, and sell your talents and achievements.
Once you’ve got a general cover letter format you’re happy with, save it somewhere accessible for future use. Now when you apply for new jobs be sure to customise the letter specifically to the job. You will make yourself standout from all the generic letters by mentioning something specific such as the client’s name or something they mentioned in the job listing. You’ll be amazed how much of an impression this can make – just by taking the time to add a few specific details to show you read the job, you’ll put yourself head and shoulders above all the applicants with copy and pasted cover letters.
You’re not spending ENOUGH TIME looking for work
Since you have a 2 or 5 job application quota, most likely you’re going to be online 2-3 hours a day. That’s not going to help you get a job at oDesk. Now, keep in mind that before everything else, before your client reviews your cover letter and checks out your profile, you need to make sure you’re client actually SEES you first.
How can the client see you?
- Apply to the MOST RECENT job postings. For a newbie, the most recent will be 30 minutes ago, for someone who has accumulated more than 100 hours it will be 10-15 minutes ago.
- You have a great chance of being hired if the applicants for that job are LESS THAN 10. Moe than 10 is too risky, you might want to save your quota in that case because it takes a day before it’s returned after being declined for a job.
- You can still send your application if the applicants are more than 10 if the previous applicants are also newbies or don’t have strong profiles. This is where your cover letter kicks off. If you have that great photo and a kick ass letter you’ll surely get shortlisted and hired soon.
You don’t have reliable internet or even INTERNET at HOME
If you’re planning to have a long-term online career, you should invest in a reliable internet connection at home.
The top 5 countries spending for oDesk contractor services are US, Australia, Canda, UK and UAE. If you want to get a job, you might want to sync your time with them. This may mean you’ll have to spend time looking for work during unexpected hours, that’s why it is more advantageous to have internet at home.
You can also get to job postings and apply faster if you have good connection. Just make sure to always refresh and check your job feeds.
Yes, you’ve done those 4 steps above and still you received that notification saying your application has been denied. Don’t lose hope! Don’t be discouraged. Remember the number of contractors is twice the number of paying clients. You really got a lot of competition out there – some of whom are very experienced.
Keep sending applications, take tests and improve your profile. You will soon get your chance and that will never come if you give up now.
Share your own experiences with getting a job on oDesk or other freelancing sites in the comments below.