All Things oDesk
July 16, 2013 by Ramesh Johari

The oDesk online workplace has grown into a large and vibrant community that has come a long way since its birth in 2005. Today oDesk is home to millions of freelancers and clients from around the world, with an unparalleled range of work taking place. From software development to transcription, from customer service to web design, oDesk brings talent and businesses together online, changing the way we live and work.

Our enormous growth also raises some big questions for each individual. Clients may wonder, “With all those freelancers, how will I find the one that’s right for me?” Freelancers may wonder, “With all those jobs, how will I find the one that’s right for me?” Each faced a simpler problem when oDesk was smaller: with fewer freelancers or jobs to sift through, finding the right freelancer or job for you was a reasonable task.

In the past, we have largely relied on you — our users — to perform most of the work in finding each other. As we have grown, however, we are hearing from many of you that you’d like to rely more on oDesk to make it easier to find the right match. There are two important reasons we believe we now need to help you. First, in a bigger online workplace — while the perfect freelancer (if you're a client) or job (if you're a freelancer) is much more likely to be available — it has become much harder for you to find them. Second, we have the benefit of learning from the volumes of data generated on oDesk — data we can learn from to help you succeed.

What does this mean for you?

In the coming months, we will be rolling out additional features designed to improve your match experience on oDesk. For clients, we want to make it easier for you to quickly identify and hire the right freelancer for your job. For freelancers, we want to make it easier for you to successfully find work.

What this means, of course, is that oDesk will become more of a meritocracy than ever before. Freelancers with appropriate skills and satisfied clients, for example, will earn more visibility for relevant jobs than in the past. Among other efforts, we will improve the freelancer and job search experiences; we will improve the recommendations we make to you; and we will roll out a host of features that help us learn more about what you are looking for, so we can best meet your needs.

We’re excited to leverage oDesk’s scale to improve the experience for all our valued participants. Stay tuned for exciting changes ahead!

Ramesh Johari

Director of Data Products and Research

Ramesh Johari is Director of Data Products and Research at oDesk, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. His team is focused on matching, search, and recommendations on the oDesk platform. Ramesh has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and an A.B. in Mathematics from Harvard.

  • Waheed Abbass


    I have two year old oDesk profile and I have completed more
    than 70 jobs with 5 Star feedback except of 3 jobs with 4.7 feedback
    which is also very good feedback and I still have 4.95 feedback on mine
    profile. My profile is also not showing in search. I have talked at
    oDesk live chat and there offer said said, "we are sorry, we can't help
    you in this at all." After few days, I again connected with oDesk live
    chat they said, " There is must something wrong in your profile". I
    asked, them what is not good in my profile and odesk live chat officer
    said, "I don't know". If oDesk officers can not help or they don't know
    than, who can help us.

    I am working for eBay services and I was
    2nd person in top ten and my clients were very very much satisfied from
    my work and they were also even refer me in their friends as well. but
    now I am totally vanished from search.

    Please let me know if
    there is any solution for me. Otherwise I have to say "goodbye" to oDesk
    as you people are saying, "In future you will do more similar changes"
    and you are learning and in other hands you are playing with me and my
    family as we are totally rely on oDesk.

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  • Sheikh Ahsan Arif


    I really really hate this new algorithm of odesk

  • fagunahmed

    Odesk new search algorithm isnt working out at all. My odesk profile has been lost from my search term "google adwords certified partner" . but I was at the first page before.
    I have two years old account with 1050+ hours and good feedback at odesk

    I used to get 1/2 invitation per day before but now no invitation from lots of applications.Its very frustrating.If things continues like this,someday I must leave odesk and find another marketplace.


  • Jenn

    This is brilliant, Odesk. I look forward to trying these updates you added.

    • advancedmedicalnet

      NOPE! This is ;not brilliant and this algorithm not working properly and making problem i think.

      • Shrikant Neema

        This is not working odesk, candidates with awesome experience and custom cover letters are going in the HIDDEN tab....over 1000 hours...5 stars rating, does that mean anything or not....why a data entry person is there in the main list and a relevant candidate in the HIDDEN tab???

  • Ross

    Danger ahead! Danger! There are two big problems with your direction and assumptions here. First, trying to guess on client and contractor *intent* will not work. It does not work with Google's search personalization, trying to guess what types of search we really want, especially for researchers. Now, if I'm a bricklayer who watches NASCAR races every day for the past 10 years, well then yes. But if we're entrepreneurs running several businesses and have clients in many different businesses, you can completely forget about the effectiveness of guessing intent.
    Second, you should focus your efforts to improve the search tools, increasing granularity, rather than dumbing the process down, or *simplifying* it. You'll be wasting thousands of person-hours with that effort. If you simplify it and take away tools, I'll surely go to another freelance marketplace. Instead, I say increase our search tool power and flexibility. I've messaged your team before with these suggestions:
    1. Let me search for exact feedback level ranges, not just 3.5 - 4 or 4 - 4.5, etc. E.g., 4.33 to 4.8.
    2. Fix your website for Android smartphone and tablet users. You are STILL using the slider for Hourly Rate that is impossible to use.
    3. Allow more granularity with Location search, rather than just region. Allow us to include or *exclude* certain countries.
    4. Allow for subtractive not just additive feature selections. Right now, in Tests, if I select two, then contractors that match EITHER will be included. But if I continue and select Last Activity within 1 Month, then BOTH must match. This is stupid! You need more clarity with the logic explanation to your client employers.
    The above issues are SO frustrating to clients who need to work quickly and effectively but can't because of these issues.

    So, Ramesh, learn to walk before running or you'll stumble.

    • Ross

      Here is another search tool that I have been asking oDesk to add for years: Right now the slider only goes in increments of $5. But in many types of jobs I need to search by $1 increments.

      By the way I am quite qualified to speak about oDesk. Here are my stats as a contractor: Member Since February 11, 2008
      (4.50) 34 reviews
      Total Spent: Over $20,000
      Hours Billed: 5,026
      Jobs Posted: 85
      Paid Contracts: 60
      Active Contracts: 7

      • Mollie

        Hi Ross,

        Thanks very much for your thoughtful response. We appreciate your feedback and would love to get more of it. We'll follow up with you directly to talk about your experience and the ideas you've listed here.

        --Mollie and The oDesk Team

        • Gaurav Manhas

          I am facing big issues due to this new search methodology.

          I have a 6 year old profile (, 86 jobs, 15 open ones, a feedback score of 4.96, 17 jobs in the last 6 months, total earnings of around $250,000, 1051 hours, 1st ranking in 11 oDesk tests and my profile has stopped coming in any search.

          The strange part is my name even doesn't pop-up when I search with my own name......what has merit to do with this?

          I search for a contractor with following parameters:
          1. >1000 hours
          2. Hourly charge $20-$25
          3. Passed PayPal test

          I have all 3 then how come my name doesn't come in the list?

          Can anyone explain the logic behind this? This has been happening since past 2 weeks.

          Previously I used to get at least 2-3 invites each day and now I haven't got any since 2 weeks. This is hampering my work badly and I don't see anything to do with merit here, this is a flaw in your systems.

          Can anyone fix this or is this a sweet way of telling contractors like me that we should shift to a more stable platform like Elance?

          • Piush Purohit

            Same problem persist with my oDesk profile:


            I have a 2 years old profile, 17 jobs and earn lot of $$$ with all 5 stars rating. Few weeks ago my profile showing at "Contractor Search", but since 2 weeks my profile not showing under oDesk contractor search... its really a very frustrating issue that I am not getting any invitation by employer :(

            NOTE: Hey Gaurav! your profile again in searching state, you are lucky... Cheer up. I think after your above post, oDesk resolved your problem, but I am still suffering from same problem since a month... I have complained 3 times at oDesk support team... but no resolution founded by them.... I hope this time they will feel my problem and will resolve ASAP.

            Thank you!

          • gaurav

            Hi Piyush,

            That is correct. Day before yesterday my profile started showing up on searches by itself, what a relief.

            It is highly unfortunate that for a platform like oDesk, they have such issues and on top of it no acknowledgement of the same.

            I am sure your profile too would start coming up in search very soon, good luck to you.


          • Tahira


            my account is missing from odesk from 17th November.but in past anyone found me when they search my username. but now anybody don,t find me in search result .
            *i have a good relationship on oDesk n with clients.
            *always i apply to jobs to which I am qualified
            *accurate in showcasing my abilities & skills on my contractor profile
            *100% completed profile
            so what can i do now? pls give me a solution. thanks