The Way We Work
June 15, 2011 by Brian McDonough

Hiring a contractor can be a scary proposition, especially for employers new to remote work. Hiring someone to build a database, provide customer service, write marketing copy or pretty much anything else, means trusting them. With proprietary information. With customer relationships. With creating or maintaining the company’s face to the world. Building trust is the most important step toward successful long-term relationships and a thriving career online.

How Trust Will Get You Hired

  • First impressions are huge. Your earliest communications will create the basis of trust with your employer. Be smart, eager and on time. Reread your emails before you send them, and use a spell-checker or have a friend proofread for you, especially if you’re not communicating in your native language.
  • Be honest about your skills. It’s painfully trendy to call yourself a “_____ Rockstar” these days, but don’t overpromise.  If you disappoint the employer when called to use one of your weaker “rockstar” skills, then you’ll never get a chance to demonstrate your real potential.
  • Think big. Ask about the employer’s business case and business goals — for your assignment and beyond.  Employers trust someone who cares about the big picture, who understands their priorities and makes them her own.


How Trust Will Keep You Working

  • Keep promises. Nothing’s more important than meeting deadlines, being available for communication on the agreed days and times, and delivering (at least) the quality you said you would.
  • Document your processes. Most things can be done multiple ways, and letting the employer know why you thought path A was better than B helps them understand your intentions — and if the employer says he’d rather go with B, he’ll understand that you made a logical initial choice, rather than think you just screwed up.
  • Save the employer money. Anything that brings your work in under budget — even if that means you billed a bit less time than expected — establishes your integrity and your respect for the employer’s resources.

How Trust Will Build Your Career

  • Admit your mistakes and fix them. After you’ve turned in the work, if the employer isn’t happy, go above and beyond to secure his approval of your work.
  • Follow up. Often you’ll deliver a piece of work and not hear back from the employer. You assume the employer is satisfied, but after a reasonable interval, check in with a quick email. Show that you’re concerned with client satisfaction, not just getting paid.

Every interaction you have with a current or potential employer affects his trust in you. You move that needle, for better or worse, every time. Remember that taking too long to respond to an email, or responding curtly, makes you seem less dependable. Bluffing through your skill set and delivering less than you promised, or blowing a deadline, makes you much less reliable. Being responsive, pleasant, and engaged, while meeting expectations, is your key to more and better work — who doesn’t want to work with people they know they can trust?

In the comments: What has experience taught you about building trust online?

Brian McDonough

Freelance Writer

Brian McDonough has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years, and has managed teams of in-house and freelance writers for newspapers, magazines and web sites.

  • Urdu poetry

    Hi, great Blog. The way you explained it is really awesome and makes everyone to read till the end. Keep posting..

  • Erich Lagasse

    Thanks for explaining why it’s so important to build trust as a contractor. We recently posted an article that discusses why employees (applies to contractors as well) should avoid giving out their opinion and rather should focus on the facts. I hope it helps. – Erich

  • sniperspy

    These are great tips for any online business. You are right we don’t see our customers face to face so we cannot build up that rapport that way. How you act to your customers says it all. I won’t shop somewhere that I am not treated right.

  • freeonlineearning24

    I can write article But did not apply on odesk

  • alamin

    Dear Sir,
    I am very expert of Data Entry, Graphics Design. Please any a job of above.

  • Badruddoza Rocky

    I am an article writer & related with a company based on outsource . Now i want to write article individually. how can i get my money after completing articles of a buyer. I have moneybooker account but have not any credit card.

  • Md. Leakat Ali

    Thanks article being help and resourceful one.

  • Rizwan Maqsood

    Thanks for such nice tips, this is basically generally elements that a human should apply. And when it is about offshore employer/client its more sensitive.


  • Nabeell

    Nice article, i really liked the concept of the whole article, a nice effort

  • Gasan Gouseinov

    Very much thanks for the article.

  • Ebnul Karim

    I think the most important thing to be a trusted contractor is that the contractor must be honest about his or her skills and working capability.
    Delivering the job in time is another important factor.
    And sometimes it may be an error but you have to correct them to create a long time relationship.
    I’m working with one of my employer over 13 months,another one for about 10 months and one more for 8 months.
    Sometimes some additional works can bring a trusted relationship with the employer.

  • http://N/A M. A. QASEM

    I’m good worker but I have no work.

    Thanks everybody…………………….

  • Saiful499

    I want to being working.

  • Abdeljalil Adil

    Very interesting
    Thanks Brian

  • Kim Harris

    I enjoyed reading this article!

    Trust is not something that happens overnight. We can’t expect employers to give us top jobs if we’ve just started a relationship with them.

    We must build trust over time. Sure we can say we’re trustful. But most employers will believe it when they see it. Wouldn’t you?

  • mpimbye moses

    l want to begin working but l dont have the visa,or creditcard

    • Erica

      Mpimbye, you don’t need a credit card to work on oDesk. Perhaps you mistakenly signed up as an employer? Please contact the support team for assistance:

  • Golam Rayhan


  • amirqindeeol

    PK Online Jobs is Providing Data Entry jobs , Online Data entry jobs ,Offline Data Entry jobs in Pakistan 100% guarantee earning and Scam free jobs just a away http://www.pkonlinejobs.

  • Narendran Jaganathan


  • Drey23

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this well written, precise and practical post. Trust is something every contractor should certainly aim in establishing a client-contractor relationship. If you can be trusted on small projects, i’m sure you’ll get better and bigger tasks ahead.

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