The Way We Work

We’ve selected two burning questions, chosen from a recent conversation about what an employer’s perspective is like. Community members whose questions were chosen will receive oDesk t-shirt

Vikas B. asks: What is the most significant thing an employer looks for during hiring process?

We recently asked oDesk’s Whitney Priest, the manager of enterprise services, what she looks for during the hiring process, and here’s what she said:

“It’s as if there are three legs of a stool that need to be balanced:  1) availability, 2) price, and 3) track record. An employer has to balance these. We aren’t likely to find all three in a contractor. If someone has a really long track record on oDesk, they probably don’t have a lot of availability. Or an employer may find someone with a really long track record and excellent feedback, but might have to pay a little more than they want to for that person. On the other hand, a contractor with a good price and availability may not have a track record on oDesk yet. So there’s a little bit of risk for the employer on that one. We can rarely get all three qualities, so we may have to give a little on the third.”

Thanks, Whitney! (And thanks Vikas for asking!)

Keith G. asks:  What would make [an employer] eventually reject an application of a certain contractor?

I can tell you from experience there are a few obvious answers (zero qualifications, zero experience, bids that are outrageously high), but it’s the not-so-obvious answers I think you’re looking for. Certain things will cause you rejection at the application phase:

  1. Not following the job post’s instructions. If the employer asked for work samples and you sent none, don’t expect great things. Pay attention to what the employer is asking for.
  2. Not pointing out how your skills match their needs. If your cover letter does not indicate how your experience and qualifications will help meet the needs of the job post, you might as well kiss the interview phase goodbye.
  3. Not showing professionalism. Not everyone expects perfect English, but they do expect professionalism. Don’t be impolite, but don’t beg for the job. Don’t be short, but don’t let your cover letter drag on forever either.

Other things will cause sure rejection by smart employers during the interview phase, and they include:

  1. Not being prompt. Respond to emails quickly. Return phone calls quickly. Never be late for a Skype interview or conference call. Watch the clock.
  2. Not being friendly. If there isn’t a smile in your voice (you can hear pleasantness over the phone, you know) and a personal nature to your exchanges (i.e., “have a great day”) you are likely to lose out to someone who seems nice to work with.
  3. Not seeming interested. You might really want the job, but if you don’t ask questions and engage, you’ll lose out to someone with more enthusiasm. No need to fake it, but do know that if you aren’t interested in what the employer’s company does, you’ll probably lose out to someone who is.

Thanks Keith and Vikas for your participation! What would you like to know about how an employer thinks and makes decisions? Ask your questions 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.