The Way We Work

Scanning dozens of contractor profiles can be a daunting task whether you are just getting your business off the ground or have been a hiring manager for years, which is why we went to oDesk’s Manager of Enterprise Services Whitney Priest for her advice.

Whitney joined oDesk in January 2010, and currently works with our larger enterprise customers and manages marketplace services (like oDesk Payroll and recruiting).

Here she narrows her advice into four easy-to-remember rules for researching profiles:


1. Scan skills and experience for similar projects. If any past oDesk project was a publicly posted job, you can click on the job title in the work history and see the job description. “If you’re hiring a php developer,” Whitney points out, “and all the jobs listed on the profile are in another programming language, the contractor’s work history isn’t going to be much help. Look for similar projects.”


2. Examine the work history for feedback. Sometimes employers rely too much on test scores and stated skills, overlooking the feedback and references on the actual work history. “Looking at prior work experience and feedback on oDesk is valuable,” Whitney advises, “However, if the employee doesn’t have a lot of experience on oDesk, I recommend reviewing their resume and asking for references from a previous employer. Whether it’s an email address — a company address not a personal one — a phone number, or written reference, it’s good to at least ask.”


3. Watch the feedback and work history for repeat customers. Whitney cautions that while this shouldn’t be used to exclude potential hires, having repeat employers is a great indicator that the freelancer meets expectations. Whitney says even if you can’t see that an employer has hired the contractor more than once, check their feedback for signs of potential rehires. “Sometimes an employer will say something like, ‘I’ll definitely use this person in the future,’ ” says Whitney. “Having repeat customers is always a good sign.”

And the fourth rule of researching profiles …


4. You have to do MORE than research the profile: Interview, interview, interview. “You can’t just hire from the profile,” says Whitney. “It’s important to interview people, just as you would in your office.” She is quick to point out how many cues and indicators about a person can reveal themselves in the interview process. “You can gauge a person’s communications skills when you start interacting with them,” Whitney notes. “And part of the interview process is seeing if the contractor can put the interview on her calendar and call in on time.”

What do you look at when scanning a freelancer’s profile? Tell us your red flags and attention-getters in the comments below.

Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.