The Way We Work
April 5, 2011 by Tamara Rice

Welcome to our first "Ask oDesk" column. We've selected questions from our Facebook community, chosen from a recent conversation about the most frequently-asked remote work questions. Community members whose questions were chosen received oDesk t-shirts.

Mary B. asks: "Can you explain how to calculate Greenwich Mean Time? If so, this would be very helpful for working with overseas employers. It would make it easier for us to make appointments for Skype interviews and chat interviews, etc."

oDesk: Understanding Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) can help you deal with clients in distant time zones and make international appointments and deadlines. But, you're gonna end up having to do some basic math or geography to translate various locations to GMT. The good news is that there are a lot of helpful tools for doing this, so that you don' t have to figure it all out in your head.

  • Here is a map to help you discover someone's distance from GMT -- whether they are GMT +1, GMT -3, etc. -- if you know which country they are in. (And, figure out your own country's time distance from GMT, while you are at it.)
  • Then, you can use this calculator to fix your appointment time. When you give the calculator the desired time in your local timezone and tell it what timezone the other person is in, it will come up with the correct time in the employer's timezone.

Ahmad W. asks: "How can I win the confidence of buyers looking for candidates only from English-speaking countries? I am competent enough in my field to compete with anyone, and these jobs are highly paid."

oDesk: This can be a challenge. If an employer states that they are looking for people from English-speaking countries, it is probably because they feel that a language barrier would be a detriment to the project. To overcome this, you've got to convince them that your talent is worth the risk, and that your English skills are on par with native English speakers.

Address the fact that you are not from a native English-speaking country up front in your cover letter, then explain why you think that this will not be a problem. Have you studied in America or England? Worked for a major English-speaking company in the past? Once you've addressed the language issue, you can spell out what skills you would bring to the position - technical expertise, design savvy, management experience, etc. Give the potential employer reason to consider your application alongside their top candidates, no matter where you are from.

Even if you have exceptional English skills, make sure that your online communication (your online profile and any correspondence) is without fault in spelling, grammar and punctuation. Concerned about presenting your English skills as top-notch? Consider having an English-savvy friend proofread your profile and correspondence, using a free online translation tool or hiring a translator online to review these for you. If the jobs you are pursuing pay well, and you have the skills to get the work done right, then this investment might be worth it in the long run.

Got a question for oDesk? Let us know! You just might get your question answered--and receive a free oDesk T-shirt, too!


Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.

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  • Sara

    @Stephanie - I'm pretty sure that's the case, but I hate having to have the employer doing it because sometimes they get confused and aren't sure how to do it and I feel like I'm kind of asking too much to have them do it. If we as contractors could do it ourselves, that would be way more helpful for both us and for our employer, to show that we are willing to take care of it for them and not having to ask them to jump through hoops trying to accommodate me. :)

  • nilesh

    Is there any way, we can create task for team members and assign to them and set deadline for them?

  • nilesh

    We have team of talented resources on odesk and resources are associated with us. The resource works on 4-5 task of odesk and makes his/her profile stronger. But suddenly s/he has to leave the company. now we hire other resource of same caliber in the company. Both resources have same skills and caliber but we have to make new profile for new resource and starts from zero. We can't use other's profile even if he has same caliber. So what is the solution for this situation for a company?

  • Stephanie

    Great post Tamara! Looking forward to a series of great Ask oDesk columns in the future. :)

    @Sara, if I'm not mistaken it's only the employer/client who can change the nature of the job from hourly to fixed. You're best chances of getting fixed price rates is to convince the client to change the job posting to fixed price and invite you to that post.

  • Esteban Saa

    Is there a way to connect Odesk to a version control software like Git or SVN? How can I use this tools to make my team more productive?

  • Sara

    Question: How can a contractor change a job application from an hourly job to a fixed rate job? For my SEO articles and content, I typically charge a fixed rate per word, rather than by hour. However, many times I will apply to "hourly" content jobs and work with the buyer on an agreement for a fixed rate for the work. The problem is that the buyer then has to close out the hourly job and make a new fixed price job in order to invite me and then hire me. Is there a way to change your candidacy from hourly to fixed price, and vice versa?