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[alert]Employees usually either completely overstate or understand their abilities in their public profiles. It can be difficult to determine who is worth hiring and who is not simply by reading their profiles. You can discover more about prospective employees with a little bit more digging.[/alert]

On oDesk, contractors have user profiles where they talk about themselves, their skills, and their work experience. The equivalent of a resume in the real world, their profile is where they sell themselves to potential clients and just like resumes, not all the information on their profile may be exactly true. As employers, we can’t always believe what we read.

In this article, I will tell you all about how I tell the duds from the good-quality contractors; by taking a deeper look at their profiles.

Step 1: Attention To Details

Let’s take for example this overview of a profile I found after searching for an article writer.

Overview of Contractor's Profile

You can see that the commas have been misplaced and there are double spaces. This is where I look to find out if a contractor pays attention to detail. Regardless of the content of the overview, I know that this user would not make a good writer because of these errors.

I do not necessarily pay attention to what they say they can do, but how much attention they give to detail.

Step 2: Learn That Categories Don’t Match Actual Jobs

As discussed in the previous article, it is best to choose specialists and not generalists.

Choosing a specialist not a generalist

Let’s take a look at Maria. She has chosen several tags to describe the work she is able to do such as HTML, CSS, and PHP. She also tagged photo editing and photography. For me, this is too wide a range and there is little chance that she is an expert at all of these.

To find out what Maria actually does, I look at her work history.

A majority of her previous work has been data entry, article writing, and some experience with being a personal assistant, and there is almost nothing related to the tags she has chosen.

Step 3: Dig Deeper Into Their Job History And Applications

Once you have found contractors who actually do the jobs that you are looking to get done, as there will always be more than one, the next step is to decide which of them is more suitable.

Choosing an expert

Let’s take Sam and Rico as an example. In their tags, they both do PSD to HTML conversation which means they take Photoshop files and turn them into websites. Sam has indicated that he is an SEO Expert and Rico has indicated that he is a Photoshop Expert.

If we take a look at Sam’s profile, we can see that his work history only shows writing jobs.

This is when I go into the Recent Job Applications section which for me is the most important part of a user’s profile. Here we will see what jobs Sam has been applying for and what jobs he wants to do; mostly PSD to HTML. It’s interesting that Sam would call himself an SEO
Expert when his forte is PSD to HTML.

Let’s move on to Rico, who has described himself as a Photoshop Expert.

His work history shows that he has been doing a lot of PSD to HTML conversion. Taking a look at the jobs Rico actually wants to do through the Recent Job Applications section, we find that he also aims for PSD to HTML jobs. This tells us that his experience and his forte align, making him a specialist.

Sam’s hourly rate is $3 and Rico’s hourly rate is $10. There may be a big difference in the price but by taking a closer look at their profiles, I know that Rico is the better choice.

Step 4: Ignore Test Results

In the previous lesson, I mentioned that I always ignore the Test Results filter when trying to find a contractor and here’s exactly why I do that.

Test Results

These are the test results of Vladimir. At first glance, you might be very impressed with his scores as he is always at the Top 10%. However, based on my experience, I have learned it is best to just ignore this even though it is quite tempting.

The most questionable thing about this part is his times; 3-4 minutes. If you take a look at the time on the test results of most contractors for PHP5, they are usually between 30-40 minutes.

I found that if you Google “test results for oDesk,” any contractor can get all the results. What Vladimir most likely did to finish the test in such a short amount of time is just Google the answers and enter them into the test.

Another thing that happens is that contractors team up and get the PHP expert to do all the PHP tests and the CSS expert to do the CSS tests.

Basically, a person who knows nothing about HTML can just easily get a high score in the test by Googling it or by getting someone else to do it for them so it’s useless to take these results into consideration.

Step 5: Know The Hourly Rate Reality

It was also mention in the previous lesson that when you are trying to find the best employees by using the filter, always go for people who are a just a little above the amount you are willing to pay.

Hourly Rate Reality

This is Ateek. His profile says his hourly rate is $11.11 (though his actual rate is $10, as the extra $1.11 is the oDesk fee) but if you look at his work history, he has accepted jobs at $2 per hour.

If you go back to Vladimir’s profile, his hourly rate is $22 but he has worked for $14 per hour. Rico is $10 per hour but has worked for $5 per hour.

Many contractors put a higher rate than what they are actually willing to work for. If you use the filter to search people who charge a little more than what you can pay, you will find better quality workers who are negotiable.

Step 6: Look For Passion

From years of experience, I have found that working with passionate people has been the most rewarding. Here are two profiles that show passion.

Find Passionate Workers

While I don’t always read the overview as truths, in his profile Zoran talks about his job saying he fell in love and has not gone back since. He states that this is what he likes to do and what makes him happy. He uses words like “challenge” and “learning”.

Just reading his profile tells us that Zoran enjoys his work. When someone enjoys their work, they are usually better to work with and more productive.

Another example is Aleksandar. He specializes in photo editing, retouching and color correcting. There are many people on oDesk who do exactly this but for me, what made Aleksandar stand out is the line on is overview that says “I work in a color-neutral, grey room.”

He has actually painted his office a color that will enable him to do his job better which for me definitely shows passion and dedication to his work.

I have been working with Zoran for three months and I have been working with Aleksandar for a couple of years. They are a pleasure to work with and I owe this to the fact that they love and feel passionate about their work.

Final Checklist

There is definitely a difference between what a profile says and what the contractor actually does. In summary, here are some tips on finding the right people on oDesk by taking a deeper look into their profiles:

  • Read their profile overview and check for attention to detail.
  • Find an expert by their behaviour, not what they say they can do.
  • Use the Job Applications section to see if they are looking for work and what type of work.
  • They are usually negotiable and willing to work for less than what their profile says.
  • Look for passion clues.

 

Katrina
Author

I'm Katrina McKinnon, creator of eCommerce University, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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