A blog for the work-at-home professional by a work-at-home professional.


I've always been singing the praises of oDesk. I honestly think it's the best job site in the world wide web. Let me tell you why.

First of all, it's absolutely free to set up an account at oDesk. This is one of the reasons why I tell people that they don't need to shell out money to get an online job. oDesk does not have paid options, which means you can take advantage of all the services in the site for free; you are not denied any privilege just because you cannot pay or you're unwilling to pay. oDesk also facilitates the billing of the buyers (employers) and the payment of the providers (employees). * You can get your pay via oDesk Master Debit Card or Moneybookers. You are guaranteed payment for hourly work. They also have free tests, which is advantageous for both the buyer and the provider. It helps the buyers choose the best fit for the jobs they require. If providers fare well in the tests, they can post their scores in their online profile thereby increasing their chances of getting hired. Plus, they have a fantastic referral program. Refer a person to oDesk and you'll get $50 when they earn their first $1,000 (cumulative earnings).

However, the number one complaint that I get from people who have signed up for an account at oDesk is it's difficult to get hired. Indeed, being a job candidate at oDesk is like being a needle in the proverbial haystack. But you may just be the person that buyers are desperately looking for. So what on earth can we do to get found?

Here are some tips to increase your chances of getting hired at oDesk:

1) COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE - When you sign up for an account, you will be asked to provide some information which your online profile will consist of. Buyers would like to know the providers as well as they can before they hire them. An incomplete profile is unattractive to buyers because it gives the impression that there are things about the provider that he or she is not willing to reveal or that the provider really has nothing to show for. So provide as much information as you reasonably can, but be honest.

2) COME UP WITH AN INTERESTING TITLE - If you're a needle in a haystack, you need to be shiny in order to get found. Remember, competition is stiff at oDesk. When a buyer posts a job at oDesk, he or she usually ends up looking at a candidate list with the names and titles of hundreds of providers vying for the job. Needless to say, you need to stand out!

A good title is a brief summary of what you are and what you have to offer. Below are good examples of titles (Please don't copy. Be creative.):

  • Experienced Data Entry Operator, VA, Researcher, Fast and Accurate
  • Competent and Multi-tasking Administrative Support Professional
  • Data entry, MS Office, SEO specialist
I've been looking at some candidate lists and I've found some interesting ways by which providers try to catch the attention of buyers. As you can see in the above examples, some use the words "specialist" and "experienced." Be creative, but more importantly, be truthful. Make sure that the adjectives you use to describe yourself as a professional truly reflects your level of competence and skill.

3) WRITE A GOOD OBJECTIVE - A good objective helps the buyers decide whether they should invite you for an interview. It should include some specifics about your skills and the types of jobs that you've completed and the ones that you're interested in.

When I wrote my own objective, I followed the example and the guidelines given by oDesk. Here is my objective:

"My previous jobs allowed me to develop excellent communication skills, both oral and written. As a call center agent, I had the opportunity to learn and apply the essentials of customer service. Having worked with American customers, I have become familiar with the American accent. Being a transcriptionist has helped me to become very keen on details. I have also developed excellent typing and computer skills since all of my previous jobs required these competencies. I am looking for a part time job which would allow me to use and further develop the skills that I have acquired. I am interested in data entry work, medical transcription or e-mail response handling."

Before you type your objective in the space provided by oDesk, look for the link that says "Example of a good objective." It is found below the box where you are to type your objective. Click on it and study the example.

4)TOOT YOUR HORN - Do not hesitate to mention your achievements. Modesty is not encouraged here. Why? Because buyers want to know what you can accomplish and what you can do for them. It's as simple as that.

5) TAKE TESTS - oDesk has free online tests. As I mentioned above, this is one of the advantages that you can get from the site. Good test results can enhance your profile. Your test scores are an indication of your level of competence and knowledge, so if you make good, make your test scores public. If not, you have the option to keep your test scores private and you can take the same test after two months.

You can take other online tests, too. Brainbench offers free online tests that you can take advantage of. Actually, although it's not really required, to get a 100% profile completeness score at oDesk, you would need to submit at least one online certification other than what oDesk provides.

6) SHOW YOUR WARES - Store owners showcase their merchandise at store windows or showcase cabinets to attract buyers. In the same way, you should build an online portfolio if possible. If you're a writer, set up a blog and/or post articles wherever you can. If you're a logo designer, upload your work to a photo-sharing site like Shareapic. (The nice thing about Shareapic is you earn while people view your graphics or pictures. Click here to set up an account.). If you're web designer or developer, build your own website and direct the prospective buyers by providing them the link. You can use sites that offer free webhosting like Bravenet and http://www.000webhost.com. Look for every opportunity online to show off your talents and direct the buyers to the sites where they can take a good look at your work.

7) WRITE A GOOD COVER LETTER - When you apply for a job at oDesk, you will be asked to write a short cover letter. The first paragraph should be a concise summary of your relevant experience and/or qualifications. Two to three sentences are enough; more than that would be too long. The succeeding paragraphs should indicate your availability -- how many hours per week you are available, the links to your online portfolio (if any) and how and when the buyer can contact you. However, you cannot put your contact information in the cover letter; oDesk will provide that to the buyer.

Before writing your cover letter, click the link that says "Example good vs. bad cover letter" below the box where you are to type your cover letter and study the given example.

8) MAKE SURE THAT YOUR PRICE IS RIGHT - I'm not saying that your services should be dirt cheap. In fact, I think you should never allow yourself to be shortchanged. However, you need to check two things -- the average rate of candidates (under Job Facts) and the buyer's budget (usually under Preferred Qualifications). Set your price according to these two factors. You may want to start with small projects first to gather feedback from buyers before you go after big ones. And one thing to consider: oDesk gets 10% of the total charges paid by the buyer and the rest of the payment is guaranteed to the provider (It's guaranteed for hourly work).

9) APPLY FOR AS MANY JOBS AS YOU CAN - Don't stop at one application. Put the law averages to use; the more jobs you apply for, the greater your chances of getting hired. But don't rely on the law of averages alone. It is never enough. You need to apply the first eight tips I mentioned above before this one. And of course, you should apply for the jobs that are well-suited to your qualifications and skills.

10) WHEN YOU GET HIRED, DO YOUR JOB WELL - If you want the same employer to hire you again for other projects or if you want to a long term job, you need to win your employer's confidence. You can do this by being trustworthy and competent. You also need to gather good feedback so that other buyers become interested in you and confident in your capabilities and character.

The tips that I have just shared will certainly help you increase your likelihood of getting a job. Getting hired by a buyer takes some effort, but it will surely pay off.

If you don't have an oDesk account, click on the banner below:

The On Demand Global Workforce - oDesk

Good luck and best wishes.

*oDesk touts itself as a "global service marketplace, " which is why employers are known as "buyers" and employees as "providers."
Update: Payment via PayPal is now one of the payment options at oDesk. If you have a PayPal account, you may add your oDesk email address to your PayPal account.


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