odesk conctructor tips

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Welcome to oDesk
We’re so happy you’re here. This Contractor Manual will help
you get started, find work, and build a successful oDesk career.
So give it a read and get ready to love the way you work!
What does oDesk do?
oDesk connects talented contractors with businesses around the globe, giving skilled workers
to jobs that are personally, professionally, and financially rewarding. We are the world’s largest online
workplace, ranked #1 by annual contractor earnings, with over 100,000 jobs posted monthly.
Why should I work on oDesk?
If you’ve got the skills, we’ve got the opportunities! You’ll find the tools, resources, and connections
need to build a long-lasting professional career. Payments are reliable and secure, and every hourly
contract is covered by
the oDesk Guarantee that an hour worked is an hour paid.
Great work is rewarded
Build your professional reputation on oDesk by working hard and getting great client reviews.
Positive feedback leads to more work. And more work leads to more money. In fact, we’ve
found that oDesk contractors on average increase their pay rate by 190% over three years.
Our technology builds trust
When you work with people around the world, having the tools to build mutual trust is key. So,
we created the oDesk Team App to let you log your time and get paid quickly and reliably.
Work without risk
There are no upfront costs when joining oDesk. You can create a professional profile, apply to
jobs, and interview without paying a penny.
So, how does oDesk make money?
It’s pretty simple. Once you’re hired, oDesk charges clients 10% of what they pay on your contract.
example, if your contract rate is set at $20/hour, your client will pay $22.20/hour. oDesk keeps $2.20 paid
by your client, so we only make money when you make money!

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
What is online work?
Practically any work that doesn’t require a physical presence can be done online. Writing? Yes!
a sink? Not so much. Successful online contractors have built careers as developers, designers,
marketers, accountants, personal assistants, and more.
How is online work different from traditional work?
From setting your own hours to using your favorite café as an office, online work offers a level of
freedom and flexibility you don’t usually find in the traditional workplace. All you need is a computer,
a reliable Internet connection, strong skills, and the willingness to work.
You’ll also have a new boss—yourself! And while oDesk can supply the opportunity and tools, what you
do with them is up to you. This is why the most successful contractors are disciplined, entrepreneurial,
and determined to build their own career.
Who will I be working with?
You could work with a wide range of clients, from small businesses to large multinational compa
Some jobs offer 30 hours in a single week; others may need you for five hours a week for three months.
Either way, expect to work with clients of all shapes and sizes.
The oDesk Guarantee

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Are you ready? Are you excited? Yes? Then let’s go!
Here’s what you’ll need to get to work:
A fast, reliable Internet connection and an up-to-date Internet browser
A work-only email account and a free Skype account
A workspace that is quiet and distraction-free
A basic understanding of the English language
A ready-to-work attitude, a strong set of skills, and an entrepreneurial spirit
You’re just three steps away from joining the growing ranks
of online professionals…
Sign up
If you haven’t signed up already, now’s the time. It’s free and easy and the first step to
an oDesk career.
Create your profile
Impress prospective clients and land your first job with a well-done contractor profile.
It’s like a personal resume, business card, and marketing brochure all rolled up in one.
So, take some time and do it right.
Set up your payment option
Get ready to get paid! We recommend setting up two funds transfer methods so that you can
paid easily. The method you choose will depend on your location. ACH for U.S. contractors and
Local Currency Wire to countries where it is available are popular because they are generally faster
and less expensive.
Let’s Get Started!

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
What Makes a Great Profile?
Successful profiles are complete, accurate, and paint a compelling
picture of your skills and accomplishments. Here’s how to make a
great first impression.
Introduce yourself
A complete, professional-looking profile starts with your
full name, title, and photo. Write a title that accurately
reflects the type of jobs you’re looking for. Your picture
should be of yourself—stock photos, celebrity pics, or
logos are not allowed.
Tell the world why you’re right
for the job
The overview is your opportunity to let a client know
what you can do for them. Include past successes
(number of years worked in a field, education level,
significant projects) and highlight your skills. Put the
most important information first—only the first few lines
from your overview will appear in search results
Set your rate
Your rate should reflect your experience and work
capabilities. Not sure how much to ask for? Look at the
going rate for those with similar skill sets, experience, or
Take a few oDesk skills tests
Skills tests are a great way to prove your value to
potential clients, especially for new contractors without
an oDesk work history. All our tests are free, so be sure
to take the U.S. English Basic Skills Test and a few
others that showcase your specific skills.
Post a portfolio
If you have images or links to work you’ve accomplished,
post them! (But be sure to get permission from your client
first.) Describe what you were responsible for, what went
into your decisions, and any success metrics. Don’t have
a portfolio? Upload letters of recommendation from
previous jobs.
Check for errors
The contractor with a well-written, professional profile
will always be a client’s first choice. Keep the tone
positive, avoid using ALL CAPS or text shortcuts, and
double-check that everything is grammatically correct
and spelled properly.
In some countries, a serious portrait indicates professionalism.
However, many oDesk clients are based in Western countries
where someone who smiles is considered more trustworthy
and pleasant. So increase your chances of getting hired and
show us your smile!

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Search is the best place to start looking for your first job. Look
for projects requiring your skills, then narrow down by category,
subcategory, hourly or fixed-price, and workload.
What to look for in a job post
When you find an interesting project, ask yourself these questions:
Do I have the right skills?
Only apply to the jobs you’re qualified for. Performing poorly and getting negative feedback
can damage your professional reputation. If you’re not 100% qualified, keep looking. The right
job is out there!
Can I prove I have the skills being sought?
When potential clients view your profile and cover letter, they look for the experience,
tests, and other proof that you can do the job. If your profile doesn’t demonstrate the skills
requested in the job post, search for a project more suitable to your proven experience.
Do I have the time?
If the post provides information on timing and deadlines, be sure you can commit to the
timeline before you apply.
Is the offered rate acceptable?
The rates offered by oDesk clients vary widely. If the rate is too low for the skills you offer at
this point in your career, move on.
Will I work well with this client?
Job descriptions say a lot about a client. Generally, the more detailed the description, the
more thought the client has put into the work and the greater their understanding of what it
takes to get the job done.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Fixed-price contracts are not covered
by the oDesk Guarantee and payment
is at the client’s discretion. These jobs
are generally smaller and are paid on
completion, with terms agreed upon
before work begins.
Hourly contracts are often preferred by
contractors. All time is logged through
the Team App and is covered by the
oDesk Guarantee.
“For your first few jobs, I recommend working with clients who have oDesk experience. They
understand how to manage an online project, how the Team App works, and how to budget for your
hours. This helps you showcase your skills, get acquainted with the platform, and improve your
chances for positive feedback.”
Sayeed Islam,
IT Consultant
Clients can choose between one of two contract types. Here’s how they compare.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Find the right job
and hit the
“Apply” button.
Enter your offered rate,
cover letter, attachments
(if any), and send.
The client will review
applications and contact
candidates for interviews.
The client may propose a paid “test
job” to get a better idea of your skills.
This is a great way to find out how
well you’ll work together
—just be sure
to agree upon a rate and number of
weekly hours before you begin.
Accept the offer and start working!
This is our recommended process for those new to oDesk. Once you complete a few jobs and become
more familiar with working online, you may skip a few steps. For example, some clients may hire you on
the spot, without an interview. We encourage you to work on oDesk in whatever way is best for you!
Applying & Interviewing
Now that you’re ready to work, the path to finding the right job is simple.
Here’s how the process works:

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Setting your rate
You can set your hourly rate when you apply to a
job. Just change the default rate in the application
before you hit “send.”
To estimate your charge for fixed-price jobs, you’ll have to figure out how long it will take to finish.
Here’s one way to do it:
We recommend this process even when the client has specified a price for the job. That way, you can
judge whether the amount of money will be worth the amount of work.
“The first mistake a newcomer usually makes is to drastically lower their rate in hopes of landing a
job. I suggest offering a ‘test hire’ option to your client instead. Get them to hire you for an hour or
two so they can sample your skills firsthand. The small test project will land you feedback, while
assuring the client of your quality and building trust.”
Ayesha Kamal,
Creative Writer and Social Media Expert
Break the job into phases. For instance,
building a website may include five phases:
planning, design, building, review, and testing.
Break each phase into the steps involved
so that you can communicate this to your
potential client.
For each phase, calculate your charge by
estimating the time it will take to complete,
including revisions.
Add up the estimated cost of all phases, plus a
little extra to account for unexpected issues.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Seven Steps to an Excellent
Cover Letter
So, you created an awesome profile and found the perfect job…now
how do you convince the client you’re the best for the job? By writing
a fantastic cover letter every time, for every job application.
Your cover letter is how you introduce yourself, highlight your skills and experience, and tell the client
exactly why they should hire you. It’s your big chance to show that you’ve read the job description,
understand the project, and are qualified for the job.
Here’s how to write a cover letter that impresses clients and leads to interviews:
Make a professional impression
Begin with a warm, professional greeting. “Hello
Mr. Smith” or “Hi John” are both polite and
appropriate. A simple “hello” sets a professional
tone when you don’t have the name of the person
doing the hiring.
Be specific
Keep your cover letter short and sweet. Tell the
client why you’re writing and why you’re qualified.
Stand out from the crowd with specific examples
of your experience and how they relate to the job.
Relate back to the job post
Call out the skills you have that are specific to the
job post. This makes it clear you have read the job
description and are ready for the job.
Ask clarifying questions
Asking a thoughtful and appropriate question
about the job shows that you understand how
to do the work and demonstrates the value you
bring to the job.
Follow directions!
Some clients might ask you to answer a specific
question or include a keyword in your cover letter.
This helps them filter out generic, “copy and paste”
cover letters. Look for these directions and follow
them. It shows that you’re paying close attention to
their job post.
Close the deal
Let them know your availability to discuss further.
It’s a polite way to “ask for the job” and reinforce
your enthusiasm.
Reread, edit, and consider
Take another look at the job description. Did you
address all of the criteria and answer the client’s
questions? Have you added relevant links to
samples of your work? Do a final grammar and
spelling check before you hit “send.”

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
mistake new contractors make is not taking
the time to write
a relevant, error-free
cover letter! Here’s how to do it right:
I found your Sales Training Deck job post and I’m very interested in
your project. As a certified Microsoft professional with experience
developing compelling presentations, I think you’ll find I have the skills
you’re looking for.
Please take a look at my portfolio to get an idea of the kind of
tations I have developed. Typically, I can edit and design a
20-page presentation like yours within three hours. I’m wrapping up
a project now and will have availability beginning tomorrow.
I do have a few questions about the requirements and would be open
to an interview. I will be online for the next 2 hours if you would like to
discuss. Otherwise, please let me know what times work for you.
Thank you for your consideration,
Joe Contractor
Presentation Specialist
refer to
your portfolio
added value
Once you’ve applied, you may receive a notification that the client would like to set up an interview, or maybe
even hire you immediately. Occasionally, you may not hear anything back. Clients are not required to respond
to applications, so keep your options open by applying to other jobs.
“Getting clients to read your cover letter is the test of your ability to brand and market yourself.
Without unique and relevant content to make you stand out, your letter will get tossed aside like
all the others.”
Stef Gonzaga,
Freelance Copywriter and Professional Blogger
Please don’t send the same “cut and paste” cover letter to every job post. It hurts your chances of
getting hired and can result in a suspension from oDesk. It’s okay to adapt an old cover letter, but
you must rewrite it to make it specific to the project you’re applying for.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
If the client requests an interview, reply quickly with your availability and find a time that works for you
both. If your potential client is many time zones away, you may need to interview at a time that is early
or late for you. Interviews can be text-based through the oDesk Message Center, over Skype, or over
the phone, so agree on a method that works best for both of you. Make sure you understand how the
interview will be conducted (for example, voice vs. text on Skype) so you can prepare!
Get set for success
Just as for any meeting, you should be prompt, polite, prepared, and professional.
Here’s how to make your
interview a success:
Ace the Interview
Congrats! You made it to the interview. Now it’s time to get
prepared, just as you would for any face-to-face interview. You’re
this close to getting the job, so set yourself up for success.
Be flexible
Time zones and communication preferences
can be tricky; be willing to adapt to the time and
interview method the client prefers.
Do your homework
Research your client so you can have a smart
conversation about their business, and write
down a few project-specific questions.
Find a quiet space
If you’re on the phone or Skype, background noise
or interruptions can make you seem unprofessional.
Double-check your portfolio
If you have a piece especially relevant to the
project, be sure to include it in your portfolio and
share it with the client.
Be prepared—mentally and technically
Give yourself ample time before the interview to
review your materials and think about what you’d
like to say. Make notes of past work examples to
discuss. Test your computer’s microphone and
speakers early so you can fix them before the
interview if necessary.
Before the interview:

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Be professional
Talk about your accomplishments and ask
questions about the job in a way that is respectful
and polite.
Be honest
If you don’t know the answer to a question
(or don’t like the answer you have to give), be
honest. Misleading a client will lead to a bad
experience for everyone.
Suggest a test project
If you think it will help, consider suggesting a small
paid test job that lasts only an hour or two. This
shows confidence and sends a good message to
the client.
End on a positive note
Ask if there is a deadline for hiring so you’ll know
when the client will make a decision. And always
thank them for the interview!
During the interview:
Provide additional info
If you promised to provide additional information or
a link to an extra portfolio piece during the interview,
do so promptly and include a thank-you note.
Always follow up
Send a short and friendly thank-you note. You
may also add a line or two to reinforce a point
made in your interview.
After the interview:
Be up front about your English skills. Our clients are used to working with people around the globe,
so don’t be afraid to politely ask them to speak a little slower or repeat their question during an
interview. That said, English is the official language of oDesk, and our most successful contractors
tend to be those who communicate well.
Our job application quota limits the number of applications you can submit at a time. So be sure
you only apply to jobs you’re qualified for. Increase your quota by:
• Taking and passing the oDesk Readiness Test
Taking and passing four or more free skills tests
Verifying your identity
Getting good feedback for a completed job

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Waiting is the hardest part
Waiting to find out if you got a job is never easy, but it’s important to give the client time to finalize
their decision. You can get an idea of their progress by checking the job post to see how many
candidates have been interviewed and if the job is still open.
If you don’t receive a response, you can withdraw your application and find other jobs. Before
withdrawing your application, we recommend sending a brief note letting the client know that you
are moving on to other opportunities, but would love to work with them in the future.
You got the job? Yay!
If a client asks you to start work without creating a contract on oDesk, beware! You won’t be protected
by the oDesk Guarantee, and if the client doesn’t pay you for your work, you’re out of luck.
Just as important, if you work outside of oDesk, you won’t receive any client feedback for your profile.
Your feedback score plays a huge part in landing jobs and growing your professional reputation—good
feedback is often the key to getting hired. So, if a client asks you to work outside of oDesk, please
contact Customer Support.
Well done! If your pay rate hasn’t been discussed,
you’ll have to do so now. Make sure that you’re
comfortable with the agreed-upon rate.
When you’re ready, hit the “accept” button and do a happy “I got the job” dance! You’ve earned it.
Now, get ready to work.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Making it work
Working alone can be difficult. There are a million distractions and no supervision, so it’s easy to
procrastinate. But a little discipline goes a long way
—use these tips to stay on track.
Create a workspace
Find a dedicated “office space” with minimum distractions. If there are kids in the house,
let them know that you are working and should not be disturbed unless it is important.
Establish your workspace and teach them to let you work uninterrupted.
Set regular work hours
Having the freedom to set your own schedule is fantastic, but creating an established
workday makes it easier to get work done and lets your client know when you’re available.
But it doesn’t have to be the traditional 9-to-5. Maybe it’s four hours in the morning and then
a second shift in the evening—whatever works best for you on a consistent basis.
Disengage your gadgets
If you’re at home, turn off the TV and power down your smartphone. The fewer distractions,
the better!
Start the project right
Before you start working, set up a kickoff meeting or write a message to your client. Make a list of
what you need, including passwords and permissions to any databases or websites, access to any
Google Docs or Basecamp tools, and contact info for team members you’ll be working with.
Establish a client communication plan that details how often you’ll need to report on progress. You
can communicate with your client through the oDesk Message Center, email, or chat, but choose one
method and stick with it to avoid confusion.
Get the Job Done
Here’s where the real fun begins! This section will help you
understand what it takes to work well and build a career on oDesk.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Using the Team App
Does your job require work that can’t be tracked via a screenshot? No problem. This is called
manual time, and it can be used to log time for phone calls, sketching, offline research, and
other non-digital components of the project. Because manual time isn’t protected by the oDesk
Guarantee, clear it with your client first and be extra communicative to avoid disputes.
Client Review
Security Hold
Pay Day
If you’re starting an hourly contract, you’ll have to
download the Team App to enter hours and get paid
for your time.
The Work Diary feature of the Team App tracks your time
and takes work-in-progress snapshots at random times in
10-minute intervals. These snapshots reassure your client
that work is being done and allow us to guarantee you’ll be
paid, even if a dispute arises. (You can always delete the
ones you don’t want shared and billed to your client!)
Your client may set a maximum number of hours
you can log in one week. Know your limit and tell
your client when you’re getting close to reaching it.
This allows them to decide whether to increase the
limit or wait until next week to continue.
When the workweek is over, you and your client
have a chance to review your timelogs before
they are finalized and payment is processed. The
workweek ends every Sunday and your earnings
become available 10 days later.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
To avoid disputes and have the safest work experience
follow these rules of thumb:
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Use your best judgment when applying to jobs
and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have any concerns.
If you don’t know it, don’t click it. Only download files onto your computer or click links from
identified trusted sources.
Avoid any client who requests free work in exchange for feedback, and never pay for the
chance to work!
Research your potential client to decide if you want to work with them. Verify legitimacy by
looking at their:
• Jobs posted
• Number of hires
• Current team size
• Verified payment method
• Feedback received
• Budget or hourly rate paid for past jobs
• Total amount paid or hours billed to date
If a job post looks suspicious, please report it to our Customer Support team. Keeping your online
workplace safe is our top priority, and we work around the clock to remove inappropriate content.
Trust & Safety
The oDesk Guarantee
Mutual trust, honesty, and respect keep the oDesk workplace professional and secure.
And every hourly contract is covered by the oDesk Guarantee that an hour worked is an hour paid.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Project Management 101
Managing your own projects is a big part of working online. This may mean juggling multiple jobs and
deadlines, all while communicating with your client and doing great work. Help yourself out by:
Being your own best manager
Take responsibility for doing excellent work and delivering on time, every time.
Setting expectations
Establish realistic deadlines and give your client regular progress updates.
Resolving issues quickly
No project is perfect, so be proactive and honest when problems arise.
Using a project management tool
Or simply use a spreadsheet to track what needs to be done. Create a project road map
to help tackle each phase of the project, one by one.
Things go wrong. Power goes out. The weather goes bonkers. Prepare yourself for emergencies by:
• Backing up your data frequently, especially if you live in a place where power outages
are common.
• Having a secondary way of working despite power or tech failures.
• Writing down your clients’ contact info so that you can get in touch even when
you’re offline.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Dos and Don’ts of
Written Communication
Following up
You’re responsible for keeping your projects on track, so if you sent something to a client and
haven’t heard back, follow up with a friendly note to make sure your work was received. And don’t
wait too long. Your original email may have been swallowed by a spam filter.
be professional and polite. A safe bet is to behave just little bit more
formally than your client.
unless you truly need to emphasize a point. All
capitals can be interpreted as shouting.
use too many emoticons. They can come off as unprofessional.
use slang like “I dunno” or “gotta,” and definitely steer clear of “TTYL”
and other text shortcuts.
be careful with your jokes. Humor can translate poorly in written form
and across cultural gaps.
bring up religion, politics, or personal issues in your professional
be concise. It’s your job to save your client time while communicating
thoroughly. After you write an email, give it a quick reread to see whether you
can convey the same information in fewer words.
IM and voice chats are great tools to touch base and get quick answers to questions. Let clients
know your availability and keep an eye out for their chats. Get in touch before initiating a call so
you don’t catch a client by surprise, even if their IM status shows “online/available.”

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
When a job is finished
Once you deliver the final product, send an email to thank your client and let them know you’re available
if they have questions or concerns.
If your contract remains open, your client may still be reviewing your work. But because you receive
feedback only after the job is closed, feel free to ask them to close the job once the work is reviewed.
Get ready for more work
Update your portfolio once a job is done, adding an image or link to the final product if your client has
given you permission to do so. Learned something new? Add it to your overview and skills list. And if
you strengthened a skill, retake the skills test or mention that skill more prominently.
You’re Done! Now What?
Congratulations on a job well done. Now that you have experience, it will be easier to land another job
and increase your hourly rate.
Once you complete a job, your client will rate your work from 1 to 5 stars and leave a note
about their experience. Delivering quality work and being a pleasure to work with are the most
important things you can do to get positive feedback.

Contractor Manual
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.
Seven habits of
Communicate early,
communicate often
Be proactive—don’t make your client
come to you.
When in doubt, ask
This will help clear up confusion, save
time, and keep the job going smoothly.
Set clear expectations
Provide honest and realistic project updates
and quickly alert your client when you
encounter a problem.
Respond quickly
Clients get concerned when they don’t
hear from a contractor.
Hit deadlines
Deliver your work on time, every time. If
you think you’ll miss a deadline, let your
client know so they can plan accordingly.
Be a pleasure to work with
Listen to your client’s concerns and respond
with a smile. A positive attitude is key to
building your professional reputation.
Under-promise, over-deliver
Never promise more than you can deliver
and always give a little extra to every job.
That’s the secret to happy clients and a
successful career!
Print this out and
pin it up where you work.
Copyright © 2013, oDesk Corp. All rights reserved.

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