8 Tips for the Perfect Developer Profile on Upwork

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Although developers are in high demand, at times, even highly skilled developers can get lost in the sea of talent. On Upwork, your profile is the most important way to attract clients, which is why it’s critical for you to regularly update your profile as you work on new projects and learn new skills. This way, you’ll receive the most attractive project offers because your profile differentiates you from others.

Take a moment to think about what you want to do with your skills and knowledge, what you’ve accomplished professionally, and why you’re the top choice for the job. Follow these eight tips to attract clients and increase your marketability.

1. Choose a professional and friendly photo

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The concept is no less true for your Upwork profile. Unlike a photo you might select for a social networking site, your Upwork profile picture should be a headshot of you dressed professionally. Your photo should be in focus, high resolution, and have a plain background. We recommend using a DSLR or digital camera instead of phone or web cameras. Check out our how-to guide on taking the perfect profile photo.

2. Keep your title short and sweet

A title will give a prospective client a high-level summary of your expertise, so make it short and impactful—we recommend less than 10 words. Some people try to fit as many keywords into their title as possible, but that won’t make a good impression. List one or two major skills (or services) you’re marketing. Your title should:

  • Clearly state what you are: Front-End Developer, Back-End Developer, Full-Stack Developer, Software Developer, Mobile Programmer, iOS Developer, Android Developer, Product Manager
  • Include your level of expertise, but don’t say Senior Engineer if you’re not senior. Work your way up with honesty and transparency.
  • Limit your listed skills to the ones you have the most experience in, starting with the critical skills clients are looking for. Don’t list more than two or three of those skills in your title.

Good examples:

  • Senior Front-End Developer (AngularJS / Node.js)
  • Full-Stack Ruby on Rails Developer
  • Full-Stack Developer (MEAN stack)

Bad examples:

  • Too many keywords: CSS/ PHP / HTML4/5/6 / Python / Ruby on Rails / MySQL
  • Too vague: Programmer
  • Spammy: #1 Top PHP 1/2/3/4/5 Developer with Zend Framework 1/2 experience

3. Showcase your expertise in the Overview section

Your overview is your pitch to potential clients. It should clearly tell your story and why they should hire you over another freelancer. Describe your key skills, unique qualifications, the types of clients you’ve worked with, and work you’re most passionate about.

Your overview should help clients answer these questions:

  • What area(s) of development do you specialize in currently?
  • What key skills are you offering and excite you the most?
  • Which professional experiences or previous projects are you most proud of and highlight your expertise?
  • What type of work or projects are you interested in and who are you passionate about working with?

Don’t opt for a laundry list of skills—save that for the Skills section.

Here’s a great example to help inspire your overview.

4. Make your Skills section work for you

Make sure you select the skills you truly excel at—adding too many can actually work against you. The best way to hack the Skills section is to add new skills as you develop them or take on new responsibilities and remove old skills as they become outdated. Place your strongest and most relevant skills in front. If you’re a Python developer with expertise in Django, Flask, and Pyramid, put Python first and the frameworks next in order of proficiency.

Not sure what skills are available? View the complete Upwork Skills Directory here.

Pro tip:

  • Add any professional certifications you’ve obtained to date. Popular verifiable ones include Adobe Certified Expert, Magento Certified Developer, Microsoft Certified Professional, Oracle Certified, Zend Certified Engineer. See how to add certifications to your Upwork account.
  • Take our skill-based tests to further validate your skills.

5. Tell your story by showing your best work in your Portfolio

Your portfolio is a vital part of your profile. It’s your opportunity to not only showcase your best work but also tell the reader your story through your projects, your passions, your goals, and your strengths. If you have more than one area of expertise, your portfolio should reflect your wide range of skills (e.g., if you’re a full-stack developer, make sure to include front-end, back-end, and/or full-stack projects you’ve successfully completed).

Aside from picking great screenshots of your previous projects (make sure you have your clients’ permission first!), it’s important to explain the story of each project. Be sure to answer these questions:

  1. What is this project? What does it do? What’s the purpose or goal?
  2. What was your role in this project and what were your contributions you’re passionate about sharing?
  3. What stack and skills did you use? Is there any other technical information that highlights your capabilities?

Did you know you can add more than one screenshot? By adding multiple screenshots and descriptions for each project tile, clients will be able to view the entire project story.

More tips to maximize your portfolio:

  1. Link your portfolio to contracts you’ve completed so future clients can see your great feedback. Here’s how.
  2. Place your best work on the first page of your portfolio.
  3. Remove outdated work so clients don’t use old work from many years ago to gauge your skills today.
  4. Make sure to file your item under the most relevant category (e.g., Web Development vs. Web & Mobile Design)

Tip for back-end developers: Make the Portfolio section show off your skills—add screenshots of the site or product you contributed to and clearly indicate in the description what you did and what tech stack you used.

6. Link other accounts to your Upwork profile

Linking your Upwork account to your Github, Stack Overflow, and LinkedIn accounts will establish your online presence and enable Upwork to better match you to jobs.

7. Show off your previous success stories in your Employment History

Use this section to highlight projects you’ve worked on both during your experience on Upwork, as well as before you joined. If you’re new to the freelance space, add information about your past professional history and feel free to elaborate on recent roles and shorten older jobs. If you’re not new to Upwork, list any long-term work or projects you’re proud of. This will establish your credibility as a freelancer on Upwork. Each position should include a brief job description, specific technologies used, and accomplishments during that time. Make sure that the information you include highlights your skills.

8. Get help from a pro

Having a hard time coming up with content for your profile? Work with an expert! Upworker Kimberly Sarmiento has been helping clients build and customize professional resumes and cover letters since 2009.

Update your profile now and increase your chances of getting higher paying jobs—and getting showcased as top talent on Upwork. It’s critical that the spelling and grammar is flawless. Common mistakes include misspelled technology stacks and job titles, poor grammar, awkward capitalization of letters, and inappropriate symbols (e.g., #, ~, *, ◯, ⅌, ♢, etc.). Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward!

Linda Lo

by - Associate Category Manager at Upwork

Linda Lo is a category manager at Upwork where she is responsible for developing growth initiatives for our work categories and primarily focusing on administrative… more