Building the perfect oDesk profile.

How to stand out from the crowd on oDesk!

As a digital nomad freelancing their way around the world, you may decide to use oDesk as a source of employment. To do this successfully you will first need a profile to help you beat the crowds and get the jobs that you want. Fortunately, oDesk make this process pretty easy – here are a few tips to help your profile outshine the others.

1. Your display name. As simple as using your own name, possibly with some indication of what you do – e.g. JohnDoeDesign. probably best to stay away from rude_dogg84 though.

2. Choose the right photo. Your photo on the site is vitally important! Although the choice is optional, oDesk estimate that freelancers with a photo are hired 5 times more often than those without. Your photo should be professional and friendly, so maybe best not to choose one from a night out on Facebook eh?

3. Title and overview. Your title should be a brief description of what you are offering. Literally a sentence or selection of skills you offer. Should you have specific skills in HTML, CSS, Photoshop etc don’t be afraid to advertise them. The overview is your main sales floor, aim for a brief overview of skills, training, and experience – essentially, you need to tell your potential client exactly why they should hire you. Don’t be afraid to adopt a friendly tone or use humour – but make sure to stay professional at all times. Try not to drone on page after page as many people won’t read that far – and please please please remember to proof read and spell check!!

4. Hourly rate. You now face the dilemma of setting your hourly rat – which is exactly what it says – how much do you wish to get paid per hour? The site will display a box in which to enter your desired amount. It will also calculate the 10% it will take in commission and add this to your total billed to the client, e.g. if you charge $100 an hour, oDesk will also bill the client their 10% making the total $110. The amount you charge is entirely up to you –  however as a new digital nomad you may wish to start at the lower end of the price scale to get those first few good reviews – however, do not undersell yourself. Ask yourself, what are your skills really worth? What do you need to live on? Remember, as a freelancer, you offer more flexibility and have far more expenses than a typical employee (e.g. tax, hardware and software, office space (or cafe/beach/hotel space!) coffee fund, health insurance…) so don’t be afraid to charge accordingly.

5. Setting your English level. Here you will have 5 options to choose from, 1 being not great and 5 being super great. It’s important to be honest, as most dealings through oDesk are done in English and there really is no point lying – once you get hired your client will soon find out your real level of english.

6. Job categories of interest. The next step is to narrow down your work preferences in order to allow prospective clients find you more easily. With over 65 sub categories there are jobs to suit every profession. ODesk allows you to select up to 10 categories to suit your skills and experience, and you can edit these at any time  when you learn new skills.

7. Visibility settings. Your three choices are available to everyone, available to oDesk users only and available only to clients whose jobs you have applied for. This again is down to the individual, personally I would set my profile to ‘everyone’ as you never know who might be scouring for up and coming talent! It is important to make sure in that case that you don’t put anything on your oDesk profile that you don’t want the whole world to see. (but why would you, anyway?)

8. Location. ODesk will require basic location information including your (current) address and phone number, these details will not appear on your profile.

9. You are now the proud owner of an oDesk profile! Now you’ve got the basics down you can (and definitely should) add various details to your profile including your education history, specialist skills, relative employment history and any certifications. Additionally you have the option to upload work to create an oDesk online portfolio – which is highly recommended, whether you’re a designer, a writer, or anything in between.

10. Once you’ve completed the above steps you’re nearly there! All you have to do is take the oDesk readiness test, which is designed to show that you understand the policies and rules of the site. You should also take a few optional skills tests that are relevant to your area of expertise – they cover everything from photoshop to telephone etiquette and are a great way to prove your skills.

Congratulations! You’re all ready and raring to show the digital nomad world what they’ve been missing. Good luck!