All Things Upwork

As a contractor, you are always trying to make a great impression on potential employers. The right words matter in making that impression, so we’re thrilled to announce the oDesk Skills Dictionary — a comprehensive list of standardized skills on oDesk.

Standardization helps ensure you find and receive the most relevant jobs for your experience and expertise by ensuring everyone is using the same terms for the skills they are searching on. This diminishes any cultural and language obstacles encountered when selecting skills on oDesk, and removes the need to list multiple versions of the same skill (“PHP, PHP programmer, PHP developer, PHP expert,” etc.).

As a testament to how important your skills are, they are now showcased at the top of the new contractor profile. Updating your skills will allow you to best take advantage of the new profile design, so make sure you do so. Read more about the new contractor profile here.

How it Works

When selecting skills for your profile, begin typing your skill, then choose from the available suggestions.

Newly registered contractors are already taking advantage of the new system.

For existing contractors, we will guide you through the process of updating your skills. The next time you log in to oDesk, you will be directed to a list of suggested skills from the oDesk Skills Dictionary, based on the ones currently listed on your profile. You will then have until January 13, 2012, to verify the suggestions, rank the skills, and approve your own custom list. The changes will go live on your profile after you complete the transition form. Starting January 13, all matched skills will be transitioned and any remaining non-standardized skills will be removed from profiles.

The new profile style has phased out skills descriptions and experience information. You may want to make a copy of these descriptions for your own records before updating your skills (to do so, press the View Skills button in the profile editor). For contractors who do not complete the transition form, the descriptions we remove will be sent to you in an email for future reference, as you may wish to put this information in your profile objective, or include it in cover letters when applying for jobs.


  • What should I do if I cannot find a skill in the Skills Dictionary? How can I add a skill? Don’t worry — there is likely a similar skill already listed in the Dictionary, and suggesting a new one is easy.
  • How is the Skills Dictionary used within oDesk? It is used to help you attract the right jobs by using the right words.
  • How will the skills appear in my profile? Take a look at an community forum.

Mollie Carter

Director of Freelancer Marketing

As director of freelancer marketing, Mollie Carter brings to Elance-oDesk extensive marketing experience in the Internet and software industry. As a senior manager at PayPal, she was part of the founding team for PayPal’s first telesales organization, helping to build the team to an astounding $50M in annual revenue. While director at PayPal, Mollie led the Merchant Acquisition Marketing and Consumer Engagement Marketing divisions, developing… read more