All Things Upwork

“Here Comes Another Bubble” (sing along now)

December 5, 2007 by

Geeky guys in blue shirts and khaki pants? Silly made-up domain names? 23-year-old CEOs? Twenty-somethings flocking to Palo Alto to strike it rich in the land of opportunity? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? “Here comes another bubble” has got it all. We stumbled upon this hilarious video from the Richter Scale blog about the sheer ridiculousness of Silicon Valley. It opens up with Peter Thiel (of PayPal fame and an early investor of Facebook), who states: “There’s absolutely no bubble in technology” and takes us through the crash of the last bubble to now, where companies like Facebook are being valued at $15 billion (Ford, by comparison, is worth around $16 billion, the video informs us). If you’re in the Valley (and even if you’re not), you’ll definitely enjoy this clip. We did want to note one thing: Several media outlets have been buzzing about one bubble indicator: made-up, off-the-beat domain names (the Wall Street Journal calls it the Goofy-Name Index). The video even pokes at several names currently in use (Meebo, Flickr, WikiYou)… etc. But there is value in having a unique name. For one, people remember it. They associate that word with your company, and your company alone. And when they search for your company, you’re easy to find. Try doing a search for “oDesk” on Google. You’ll find us right away. (And if you’re curious about the origin of our name, check out the oDesk page on Wikipedia). And after you’re done Googling us, watch the video again. I did, and couldn’t stop laughing (despite weird looks from cubicle-mates). Read Full Article

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Providers: Inform buyers when you take leave

December 4, 2007 by

What is it? Going on vacation this holiday season? Taking time off? Providers can now inform current and future buyers that they’ll be taking a leave of absence. Indicate the dates you will be on leave on your provider profile. Send emails to current buyers when you decide to take a leave through our automated system. Why did we do this? Oftentimes providers are tagged as unresponsive because they are away for a few days and forget to notify buyers. We’ve made it easy to notify buyers and the rest of the oDesk network that you’re away from your computer. What does it look like? 1. Sign into your provider console by going to my.odesk.com. 2. Click on the Profile and Settings Tab and locate the Provider Leave link on the Provider Console. 3. Check the box and select the dates of your leave by clicking on the pop-up calendars. 4. If you wish to let your current buyers know that you will be on leave, click “Yes” and an email will be sent to your buyers automatically. If you click “No,” you will be directed to your Profile information. 5. Under the My Profile link within Profile and Settings, you will now be able to see My Public Profile. The dates of your leave will appear under Weekly Availability. Your leave information will also appear in the Team Room. Read Full Article

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Search Results Yield Only Active Providers

December 4, 2007 by

What is it? We have made it easier for buyers to find active providers on our site. We are making the profiles of providers who meet all of the following criteria private. Providers who have signed up, but who have … Never earned any money on oDesk Profiles that are less than 50 percent complete Not been active on the site for more than 90 days (three months) … will see receive email notification that their profiles have turned private. Providers who wish to continue being active on oDesk will have the ability to complete their profiles and become public at any time. Providers: Haven’t completed your profile? Come back to our site, finish your profile, and set it to public to stay active in the search results. Why did we do this? With tens of thousands of providers on our network, we wanted to highlight providers who are actively working and ready to take on new job opportunities on oDesk. By making inactive provider profiles private, buyers will have an easier time finding providers who will respond to job interview requests. Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Making More Cents in 2008

November 29, 2007 by

It’s that time of the year. People are putting up the Christmas trees, hanging lights outside of their homes, shopping like crazy (or not)… and reviewing their plans for next year. Yep, it’s time for companies to plan for 2008. Every business, large or small, looks for ways to improve their product and cut costs. While browsing through Business Week, I came across a great article on the topic: Ten Penny-Pinching Ideas for 2008 by Gene Marks. Among his suggestions (geared toward small businesses): – Set up remote access (we think this is a great idea, too). If someone’s on the road or wants to work from home, they’ll have virtual access to the office. – Create alerts. Remind yourself of when someone hasn’t paid, when you need to pay bills, when you need to check up on a project or meet a deadline. – Invest in smartphones (particularly if you have remote workers). Keep in touch no matter where you are (a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it.) Some suggestions we would like to add: – Outsource your company’s T-Shirt design. oDesk recently needed some new designs for our swag, and rather than bog down our Marketing department, we hired a provider to do the job. About 15 hours and $150 later, we had seven designs to choose from and our provider is now building us a custom Printmojo store. – Do your own marketing. Check out the Duct Tape Marketing Blog for ideas and tips. Hire a provider to create professional looking HTML newsletters or write press releases and then post them yourself on sites such as this one. – Outsource your customer service. Staffing a live chat system like phplive.com can be a burden, but plenty of … Read Full Article

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Happy Turkey Day

November 21, 2007 by

We wish all our our oDesk providers and buyers a Happy Thanksgiving! This is really a holiday where many of us reflect on all we have to be thankful for, and here at oDesk, we’re grateful for many things. Just today, thanks to our amazing network of hardworking providers and diligent buyers, we hit a record of 4,002 hours worked in one day. So it is with many thanks that we acknowledge your hard work on oDesk, and we hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. Read Full Article

15 Tips for a Memorable Cover Letter

November 19, 2007 by

Applying for a job? You’re not alone. oDesk jobs receive an average of 12 applications in the first 24 hours. How to ensure that you’ll get a chance to interview? Write a cover letter that stands out and that shows the employer you’re seriously interested in the work. Here are 15 tips to help you create an outstanding cover letter: 1. Read the job application carefully. The best way to ensure that you won’t get the job is to write something that shows you really didn’t read through the job description or that you don’t have the skills required. 2. Highlight relevant skills, but be brief. And while we’re at it, if you’ve taken a few skill tests on oDesk, that can help you verify those skills and impress buyers. 3. Spell check and proof-read. You’ll have someone’s attention for only a few minutes. Make sure you make a good impression. I recently saw a cover letter with someone who said they had perfect Englich. Yep, wasn’t too convinced. 4. If possible, include links to relevant work experience. 5. Be professional. Humor can backfire. You may laugh at these examples of funny cover letters, but future employers may not feel the same way. 6. Don’t cut and paste. When you’re applying to a bunch of jobs, it’s tempting to create a cookie cutter template, but employers will be more impressed when you spend the time to tailor your cover letter to the job. 7. Include your contact information and best times to reach you. Put your availability in the buyer’s time zone. Can you best be reached through Skype? Yahoo Messenger? Gchat? Let the buyer know. 8. Be online as much as possible. You never know when the buyer might be online and decide to contact you. 9. Explain your current availability. Read Full Article

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oDesk makes the Red Herring Short List

November 14, 2007 by

We’re psyched! oDesk made the short list for the Red Herring 100 Global 2007! Drawing from a pool of 1,800 promising, privately-held companies from around the world, editors at Red Herring Magazine selected only 200 companies as finalists. In the next round, the top 100 companies will be announced at the Red Herring Global 2007 conference to be held in Seattle on Dec. 3-5. Companies are chosen for their financial performance, innovation, management, global strategy and ecosystem integration. We’ve been working on making oDesk a standout startup for freelancers and IT companies and have been working on even more features to improve our product and customer experience. We’re excited to be considered for this distinction and look forward to seeing the results! Learn more about the Red Herring Global 2007 on our website. Read Full Article

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Tune into oDesk on The CEO Show

November 8, 2007 by

We’re excited to announce that our CEO, Gary Swart, was broadcasted on the waves this last Sunday! The radio waves, that is: Gary chatted with Robert Reiss on The CEO Show on November 11 at 10 p.m. PST on “The New World Order of Hiring.” How do you hire top talent? How do people around the world manage to find each other and work together? Gary shared his views on how to run a successful outsourced team, provide good customer service, and manage a network of over 30,000 community members. As the CEO of oDesk, Gary interacts with providers and buyers on a regular basis and has learned from their best (and not-so-great) practices. Looking into the future, Gary shared his thoughts on rising trends in hiring and the outsourcing industry. Robert Reiss has interviewed CEOs such as David Neeleman of Jet Blue, Bernard Marcus of Home Depot and Jay Walker of Priceline.com, so we’re pumped to be included in the mix. Want to tune in? Listen to the entire interview here. For more on The CEO Show, visit the website. Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Cough, cough… Boss, I’m not feeling too well today

November 7, 2007 by

We’ve all been there. It’s a gorgeous day outside, the sun is shining, birds are singing, and you have to go to work. You pick up the phone, practice your best hoarse, scratchy voice, and when the voice on the other line says hello, you launch into your spiel: “Yes, cough, cough. How are you doing, sir? Me? Well, I have a terrible cold today, cough, cough. Odd, isn’t it? No, no, I didn’t feel bad yesterday, it must be one of those 24-hour bugs that’s going around. Probably best to stay home, so as not to get the other employees sick.” Your way of looking at it: Hey, I’m just taking it easy for one day, right? No big deal. Your employers’? Absence Abuse. Business Week has a great article out right now by Michelle Conlin looking at the problem of absenteeism at work. According to the research cited in the article, only about 85% of labor costs pay for actual work. The rest is vacation and those “sick” days everyone takes every once in a while. But too many “sick” days has become an issue for some companies and they’ve begun to take action. Some have begun monitoring carefully who’s been calling in sick and how often. In some workplaces, if you call in sick too many times, disciplinary actions begin. There are many reasons people call in sick. Some are genuinely ill, others just need a day off. But some employees are simply dissatisfied with their jobs and are loathe to go to work. The article mentions the experience of one unit within a manufacturing company that was calling in sick significantly more often than other units within the same firm. The culprit ended up being the manager, whom many employees disliked (and … Read Full Article

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The road to world peace?

November 6, 2007 by

The sudden turn of events in Pakistan over the last few days has been nothing short of frightening. As we scanned through the headlines, our thoughts here at oDesk quickly turned to the 1,000+ oDesk community members residing in Pakistan. Many of us here in the office have made connections with providers and buyers residing in the country, and we know many of our buyers have established important connections with users there as well. What also came to mind as we read through the stories is just how connected we all are in today’s economy. Pakistan has gone through Martial Law before, but the effects are now greater due to the interconnected nature of the global economy. Many of us have professional connections with citizens affected by political situations in various countries, and in an increasingly connected society, conflicts reach further than their borders. The flipside is that our interconnectedness has the ability to move us to action. The more connections we make with citizens in other countries, the more we’re likely to (a) work to understand their culture to improve our communication, (b) empathize with them and (c) prevent and resolve conflicts in order to keep our interconnected economies humming. We hope that in coming years, as business connections through outsourcing increase, that we’ll all feel a greater stake in the political situations in other countries. For now, however, we wish our friends in Pakistan the best and hope all remain safe. Read Full Article

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Outsourcing: The next generation

November 5, 2007 by

Steve Lohr’s recent article in the New York Times on hiring tutors from India (Hello India, I need help with my math) shines a spotlight on the increasingly popular trend of outsourcing consumer services. The article focuses on one offshore tutoring company and also touches upon the practice of hiring virtual personal assistants. We’ve seen this trend reflected in our marketplace as well. Take a look at the numerous Buyers on oDesk who are currently seeking personal assistants. These assistants can help busy professionals with a variety of different tasks, including managing databases, preparing documents, taking calls, and booking travel arrangements. Already there are more than 2,000 providers on our network available as “personal assistants.” What is particularly startling about the trend highlighted in the New York Times is that many of these new outsourcing clients are young. Really young. They’re kids seeking homework and exam help from tutors working on the other side of the globe. This next generation is primed for a working world without borders. Computer savvy, comfortable with communicating online and already experienced in the world of offshoring, by the time this generation hits the workforce, there will be no hesitation in finding outsourcing solutions. They won’t hesitate to look for creative ways to outsource their business tasks and personal lives, leading to further growth in the outsourcing realm. We have one thing to say: Generation Y (and beyond), oDesk will be ready for you … Read Full Article

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Home, sweet home

November 1, 2007 by

According to a recent article by Hispanic Business magazine, the practice of homeshoring — hiring people who work from home — is skyrocketing. The magazine estimates that there are about 150,000 home-based “agents” working for companies in the U.S. today, a number that could reach 300,000 in 2010. If you’re considering outsourcing solutions, homeshoring offers some advantages. Your providers are working in similar time zones, which may make it easier to communicate. Additionally, according to Business Week, employees who work from home may be more loyal than on-site employees. To read more, here are some articles we’ve selected you may want to peruse: 1. Fortune: Commute to work in 30 seconds 2. Management Issues: Homeshoring is where the heart is 3. Seattle Post Intelligencer: ‘Homeshoring’ means that call center might be in someone’s bedroom 4. Small Business Trends: Homeshoring and its impact on small businesses 5. HR and Homeshoring Blog 6. Outsourcing Times: Offshoring vs. Homeshoring 7. IT Business Edge: Homeshoring helps companies improve customer service 8. Arbor Law Blog: Is Homeshoring the new offshoring? 9. Christian Science Monitor: Outsourcing comes home 10. CNN – How to earn more from home 11. CNET –  Homeshoring to trump offshoring? If you are looking for some providers, check out this search for U.S.-based oDesk providers. Happy home (agent) hunting! … Read Full Article

The Way We Work

The skinny on outsourcing buzz words

October 26, 2007 by

Offshoring, Homeshoring… Seems like these days you can add -shoring to anything and make it a buzz word. But what do all of these terms mean? Here’s our little guide to the world of remote work: Outsourcing — Asking an expert (or a firm with experts) outside of your company to do something for you more efficiently and in a more cost-effective way than if you were doing it yourself. Companies outsource all sorts of tasks, from software development to network administration to graphic design. But outsourcing isn’t limited to business tasks — my personal favorite is the guy who outsourced his dating life. Should you do it? Perhaps you’re thinking about redesigning your website. Could someone with more technical expertise do it better? Offshoring — Essentially the same thing as outsourcing, except that this refers to when the work or product is done by someone in another country. But Thomas Friedman would agree, if someone can get quality work done better and faster, it doesn’t matter whether they’re in Minnesota or Moldova. Should you do it? Establishing a clear communications strategy is the best way to ensure your offshored projects will be successful. You’ll have to consider time zone, language, and cultural differences. Nearshoring — Much like offshoring, but instead of outsourcing to people anywhere in the world, outsourcing to people who are working nearby (in a nearby country, for instance). Some companies want to work with providers who have a similar culture, share a similar language or are in the same time zone. Should you do it? Depends. If working with someone in the same time zone is essential, this might be the thing for you. Homeshoring — Outsourcing your work to someone within … Read Full Article

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Buyers: Manage Multiple Credit Cards

October 24, 2007 by

What is it? Buyers can now manage multiple credit cards on oDesk and can decide which card will be used for billing. Buyers can also set up a Backup card in case their Primary card fails. Why did we do this? When a Buyer’s Primary credit card fails, either because it has expired, there are insufficient funds or it has been canceled, oDesk suspends the Buyer’s account. In order to avoid any account delays, oDesk recommends that Buyers add a Backup credit card. We will only charge the Backup credit card if the Primary card has failed. Read more about Primary and Backup cards here. Provider and Buyers will also notice a new look for this section, including a new “Your Balance” box. Learn more about the new format of \”Your Balance\” and what the terms mean. What does it look like? We hope our new credit card management options will make it easier to manage your account! … Read Full Article

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oDesk Named Rising Star in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 Program

October 23, 2007 by

As anyone who has been watching the oConomy Facts tab on our homepage will know, the oConomy has been growing rapidly.  It wasn’t until yesterday, though, that we learned just how fast our revenue growth has been when compared to other young companies.  We’ve been named a Rising Star on Deloitte’s 2007 Technology Fast 500.   A special category, the Rising Star list ranks the 20 companies that have been in business a minimum of three years, but less than five years, that showed the highest percentage of revenue growth over the past three years (2004 to 2006).  Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 is a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications and life sciences companies in North America. We love winning awards.  We’re gunning to win a spot on the Fast 500 list once we’ve been around long enough to be eligible, so please keep the feedback coming and let us know what we can do to better serve you.  Thank you! … Read Full Article

October 2007 oNews

October 23, 2007 by

Welcome to our monthly newsletter! This is where we share new features, our perspective on outsourcing, homeshoring and offshoring topics, star providers, success stories and interesting discussions. This month: Round of Applause oDesk Perspective Success Stories Provider Spotlight Features Launched Discussion of the Month State of the oConomy Providers 25,624 Jobs(currently open) 1,888 Earnings(last 90 days) $3,677,699 Rates by Feedback $16.43 $16.17 $14.8 Round of Applause Kudos to all of the providers who got their first oDesk job in September! The oDesk community has continued to grow steadily and more providers are finding great jobs. 327 providers from 33 countries, including Argentina, Egypt, Australia, Jamaica, Japan and Turkey started working for the first time in the oDesk network this August. These 327 providers have already racked up 9,353 oDesk hours and over $125,716 in just one month! A special round of applause to the top new providers by total earnings: Dhruvraj Z., Prodan A., Michelle A., Vladimir G., Eugene M., Vinod S., Dedy P., Banibrata B., Michael T., Anthony R. Want to see your name listed here next month? Apply to job openings. An oDesk Perspective Effective Interviews Though the newest member of your team may not be walking in the door tomorrow, hiring a freelancer to become part of your business is often like hiring another on-site employee. oDesk’s multiple tools, including enhanced provider search, skill tests and feedback rating system can help you find quality candidates, but the interviews you have with the providers will ultimately allow you to make your final decision. To help you streamline your interviews, we’ve compiled a few points to guide you through … Read Full Article

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10 New Skill Tests Available

October 18, 2007 by

We’ve just released 10 new online tests aimed at providers with graphic design skills. We currently offer a variety of different tests used by providers to certify their skills for technology and business practices. Read more about the online testing program and how you can add bling to your profile. Click on the links below to take the tests or go to the My Tests tab in your Provider Console. Adobe Fireworks CS3 Adobe Flash CS3 Adobe Illustrator CS3 Adobe Photoshop CS3 Corel Draw X3 Corel Paint Shop Pro XI Corel Ventura 10 Macromedia Director MX 2004 PageMaker 7.0 Quark Xpress 7.0 Please let us know if you have feedback on any of our tests to help us improve the quality of our skill test offerings. We have a feedback feature that allows you to submit issues, concerns or errors with the test. Read Full Article

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Upfront Payments

October 17, 2007 by

What is it? You can now request upfront payments on Fixed Price jobs. When applying to a Fixed Price job, you may specify what percentage of your bid you want paid before starting a project. Why did we do this? There were many providers who expressed concern about working on fixed price jobs without the payment guarantee we were able to offer on hourly jobs. Allowing providers to request a payment upfront helps them bid with confidence by knowing that if they are hired, the Buyer is willing to make a payment before the project starts. What does it look like? Here is the new Fixed Price application page: Some things to consider: Build your reputation – Buyers are more likely to consider making an upfront payment to very experienced providers with good feedback. If you are new to oDesk or you have yet to receive any feedback, consider bidding without an upfront payment request to increase your chances of getting the job and building your oDesk reputation. Be Reasonable – If you ask for too much upfront, you could reduce your chances of being considered for the job. Upfront payments are intended to promote provider confidence when they are working with new buyers on fixed price jobs, so only ask for enough to make you feel comfortable in starting the project. Set expectations – If you request an upfront payment, make it clear in your cover letter what the Buyer should expect from you before they schedule another payment. For example, you could request 50% upfront payment for completing the first phase of the project, and tell the buyer you expect the other 50% upon completion of the entire project. Buyers will likely want to know how much work product they will receive for the initial payment, … Read Full Article

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New Job Search

October 17, 2007 by

What is it? oDesk has enhanced the job search page to improve your job hunting experience. Now you can search Buyers by feedback or by the number of total jobs completed. With oDesk’s improved search capabilities, it will be easier to find the job you’re looking for. We have also moved the entire search window to the left column so you can see more results on the page. Why did we do this? While Buyers had the ability to search for providers by feedback or oDesk work hours, prior to this feature, providers didn’t have the same options. We’ve created a way for providers to evaluate and compare potential Buyers through several parameters. What does it look like? Here is the new job search page: We hope this will help you land the job you were looking for! … Read Full Article

10 tips for an eye-catching profile

October 17, 2007 by

So you’re a freelancer at an online site with 25,000 providers to choose from. Seems like it might be hard to stand out to prospective buyers. Here’s my advice: Spell-check for goodness sake. There is no faster way to look unprofessional than to have “poorgrammer” as part of your title. Links, and links, and links. Whenever you can – show links to prior work, prior companies, anything to give the reader a better idea of who you are and what you’ve done. Be creative with your title. You have about 0.1 seconds to make an impression when your profile first appears in search results. Better have some standout keywords in there. Be creative, be fun, be a “java ninja” or a “php rockstar”. Upload a picture of yourself. While your coding ability may have little to do with your appearance, every buyer I’ve ever asked has told me that the pictures gain their attention. btw, logos don’t have the same effect. Prove your skills. If you can, take online certifications. Take oDesk tests, or Brainbench tests, or pursue a certification from Zend, MS, etc. Prove your identity. Check out some of the online tools and sites for getting a stronger online identity. Beenverified.com has an embeddable online ID verification. Don’t forget your keywords. Think as if you were a buyer. You’re looking for a professional just like you. What keywords would you use in your search? If you know some unique skills, put them in your profile. It’s not going to hurt and it will increase your profile views. Set reasonable expectations. You may not find Google recruiting at oDesk today 😉 , but you may find some outstanding long-term clients. Set the right … Read Full Article

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25,000th Provider Joins oDesk Network!

October 16, 2007 by

Every once in a while we hit a milestone at oDesk that makes everyone in the office stop and say “wow”. This morning we noticed that the 25,000th provider was going to join the network. We watched as the numbers approached this important milestone… And here she is, our 25,000th provider: Samantha K., welcome to oDesk! Samantha and our extensive network of providers will find a variety of cool and interesting jobs on oDesk. Just browsing through the job posts Buyers have put up in the last few days, I found a job listing for a music video, one to write courses for airplane pilots and one calling for PHP/MySQL/HTML experts to create a graphics design website for a banner and magnet company. It’s neat to see all of the creative ways people are using our site. To give you a sense of our growth, approximately 80 providers join our network each day. Our base of affiliate firms is also growing: currently, about 1,500 providers in our network are part of affiliate firms. In the last 90 days, oDesk providers have made nearly $3.6 million. But we’re really not just about the numbers. People working in the U.S. and abroad have found job opportunities they would have likely not found locally and Buyers have seen great results. Here are some of the feedback comments Buyers posted on our site today: “Shibu B. (of the Affiliate Firm Cabot Solutions) did a great job on this project and produced all deliverables on time. We’ll definitely work with him again in the near future.” “Kostya is an excellent PHP developer and I would be happy to hire him again.” … Read Full Article

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Music to our ears

October 15, 2007 by

Dmitry Sokolovksy, our QA master, is also a bayan guru, which is a type of accordion. He recently brought his accordion to the office and played a bunch of his favorite songs. Some really impressive finger work, I’m sure it helps in typing fast on the computer Check out this video: I hope you noticed: The scary cat pictures My South Asian bobble-head The wink – Abid Mohsin … Read Full Article

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Got Bling?

October 14, 2007 by

Does your profile have any bling? We launched some new icons just a few weeks ago to feature the best performers on the online tests. Check out all the new icons and how to get some on your profile: Go for the gold! Top provider in each test gets one. Silver for 2nd place. Bronze for 3rd place. For any provider scoring in the Top 10 percentile. For any provider scoring in the Top 20 percentile. Keep on taking those tests! The competition is heating up as almost 30,000 tests have now been taken by oDesk providers. We’ve already heard from a few providers that they have started receiving more interview invites with the icons in their profiles. Read Full Article

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Password Update

October 10, 2007 by

We’re upgrading the security of our site in efforts to better serve and protect all users. As part of this ongoing initiative, we’ve introduced a higher standard for password strength. In order to bring all of our existing users up to the new standards, you will be redirected to the change password screen after you log in. Thanks for your cooperation. Read Full Article

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Earn $250 – How big will the oConomy be in Q4?

October 8, 2007 by

Our friends at Predictify launched their service earlier today and we’re giving it a whirl.  Predictify is sponsoring an oDesk-related poll to help predict how large the oConomy will be in Q4. Those of you that frequent the oDesk homepage have probably noticed that the oConomy is growing faster than ever – nearly $3.5 million in the last 90 days!  You can see total provider earnings for the last 90 days on the “oConomy Facts” tab of our homepage. Make your prediction for total provider earnings for the period from October 1st through the end of the year. The most accurate predictors will split a pot of $250. Read Full Article