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Search Update (July 2011)

Search is a frequently used and very powerful tool on oDesk. Be it contractor search or job search, oDesk’s primary concern is in creating the best match. When we deliver relevant jobs to strong, qualified contractors, we succeed in delivering good matches. And when matching works, we all win.

As search technology improves, we modify search on oDesk. This is an on-going, continuous effort. Improving search is an important part of keeping the oDesk platform and Marketplace healthy and relevant.

In an effort to communicate these changes, we will be giving you regular updates on our search efforts. We encourage you to engage in this discussion here in the forum, or give us direct feedback here.

Today we focus on contractor search and share with you our thinking on the elements of a successful contractor search.

Are you an employer interested in finding the best contractor for your open job? Are you a skilled contractor making sure that you rank well in contractor searches? Read on...

What is oDesk contractor search made up of?

Our search currently focuses on 3 primary factors:

  1. Keyword match: What does the employer want? What skills are important for this job? Our search looks for contractors that have the profile and skills most relevant for the job. To determine the match, we examine a contractor’s entire profile, including the objective, skills listed, tests, and past jobs to determine if the contractor would be a good match for this particular search.
  2. Availability: Is the contractor available to do the job? You may be the perfect contractor for the job, but if you are not available, the job will not be done and the employer will be left with a bad impression of the oDesk marketplace. With our search algorithms, we give preference to contractors who are actively and appropriately applying to jobs.
  3. Effectiveness: How successful are you as a contractor in applying to jobs, getting hired and delivering on the jobs you have taken on? Effectiveness measures the contractor’s ability to select and be hired for appropriate jobs. New to oDesk? Consider creating the best profile that you can and applying to jobs that match your skills and capabilities. New contractor profiles are ranked based on skills and availability.

We’ve been testing this new search for a couple months and have seen very strong results. Employers are seeing more relevant contractors for their specific jobs, resulting in more invitations and more hires.

Try contractor search today and let us know about your experience. We are listening.

What are some of the things that you can do to get the best search results?

What can an Employer do to find the best match?

  • When searching for contractors, start by selecting the appropriate job category and sub category. Include relevant search terms and use the filters on the search page to further refine your search results.
  • When posting your job, provide a detailed description of the job, your requirements and expectations, and fill in the specific skills you’re looking for in the “Skills” field.
  • When reviewing contractors, look at the whole picture. Rates are important and can signal the level of experience and quality the contractor offers. But, more important is reviewing the contractor's skills, past work history, tests taken, and portfolio items to identify whether they are right for your job. Contractors new to oDesk won’t have a history and feedback on oDesk. But, they may still be a great match for you. Feel free to ask them for references.

What can a Contractor do to find the best match?

  • Choose your job categories carefully.
  • Focus on a small list of skills. What are you best at? What are you an expert at?
  • If you are available, be sure to apply to relevant jobs (see KEYWORD MATCH above).
  • Keep your profile up to date. As you conclude jobs, add the experience to your profile information.
  • If you are unsure of your availability, consider not applying to jobs.
  • Be responsive to the invitations that you receive from employers. If you are not interested in the job, politely let the employers know that you don’t see a fit with the job. When hired, do high quality work that meets your employers’ needs. By doing so, you are more likely to get strong feedback scores and comments, be retained for additional work, and earn more dollars. All of these will increase your ranking in search.
  • New to oDesk? Focus on completing your profile and taking tests that differentiate you. Choose your job categories carefully and focus on a narrow set of skills where you are an expert. Apply to appropriate jobs and show your commitment to the job application by creating specific cover letters addressing the needs of the employer. Detailed profiles, specified skills and appropriate job applications increase your standing in search.

Let us know about your experience with contractor search. We are eager to hear your comments and we will be regularly updating you on search news, as well as tips for better search results in the coming months.

Vote Result

Score: 4.8, Votes: 17

Thanks oDesk for punishing stable successful contractors. Good job!

Sergey , please explain why

Sergey , please explain why do you think stable successful contractors are punished ? I have 2000+ hours with $30/h rate. Recently I have decided to relax my profile privacy and in few days get 4-5 invitations for projects. Those are the moments when I am really sad that I have to sleep Wink
btw how is word Socialism related to anything from these posts ?

This is very easy to

This is very easy to explain.

I have a profile with... let's say, it is comparable to yours.

My profile was private maybe for 2 years. Mostly because since 2008 I have few long-term contracts and was looking for new contracts maybe 1-2 times a year. Note: I am working exclusively on oDesk.

From my experience, 8 of 10 good projects I am working on are for private openings. I guess it depends on the area, but it's just a fact. Most of the public projects in my area are not interesting for me, I know this because I'm subscribed to the corresponding oDesk feeds.

So recently I've tried to open the profile and check what's the current situation with projects.

I couldn't understand why I have zero invitations, so tried to find myself in a search: with 5* and 7k hours profile I'm lower than hundred of newbies. Oh, really? Out of the first 10 pages in the very specific search area, which is much less active as php of smth like that. This is a joke.

Now I know that reason is this:

With our search algorithms, we give preference to contractors who are actively and appropriately applying to jobs.

Translating into the human:

What oDesk suggests me is to apply to dozen of jobs I don't really want, say "No" to the people who decides to hire me and hope that this will improve my search results. All just to compete with some cheap asian contractors who are applying to every damn opening every day.

This is totally inappropriate and this is what I call socialism: helping less skilled/successful people by punishing more skilled/successful.

I am not sure what's the best

I am not sure what's the best way for ordering contractors. No of stars, No of projects completed, No of average hourly rate , date of registering at oDesk, level of activity in the recent time, No of hours worked etc.... ?
e.g. when I type "java" as a keyword for contractor search it is fact that resulting list seems more or less random and I can't figure out how it was sorted. But at the same time I don't have an answer to what would be the best sorting algorithm. Actually , the best sorting algorithm would be one where my name would be first on the list Wink
Things seems better when employer use some filter e.g. number of hours worked greater then 1000. Then certainly total newbies will not be in front of you.
It would be interesting to get more info about sorting algorithm and what are the key factors for success. I don't think (or IMHO it should not be the case) that applying for jobs brings a lot of, let's call them , "points".

Good sorting should have just

Good sorting should have just two attributes:
1. Results should be predictable. Making sorting criteria secret creates suspicion in their fairness, and question: "who should I pay to get in top?".
2. You should be able to change the sorting, say order by hours, feedback etc. This is not possible currently.

Filtering is just a partial solution, I can bet that most of the people never use it.


Hey Sergey,

Don't knock other people who are looking out for opportunities, and especially not in such a horribly racist way "cheap Asian contractors" indeed. If you feel so "punished" address the folk in charge. While you're at it, you could take a look at yourself and perhaps find your attitude may have gotten you where you are.



Perhaps chill

Sergey, I think that is exactly what will happen, and ultimately the clients will get pissed off.

Personally that is exactly what I will do. I have no intention to leave my 25 connects go to waste anymore. I will apply to everything that moves.

Avantika, he doesn't seem to be in a bad situation. He seems to have some high-end stable clients, and earns significantly more than you.

As for cheap Asian contractors it's not exactly a racist statement. The bids coming from Asia are in most cases in the lower end of the market. Even for in-demand skills the applicants I've seen are 10 to 20% lower. Hence the conclusion that they are "cheap". Would the terminology "low cost" offend you less? You are located in a part of the world called Asia. How else would you be called other than Asians? Or maybe it's the word contractor that offends you?

Racism exists and it's a problem so it really bugs me when I see it drowned in senseless drivel.

It Is......

Maria F. wrote:

As for cheap Asian contractors it's not exactly a racist statement.

But it is a Racist Statement. When one directly zero in to a specific group with a derogatory and sweeping remarks its racist. Out of context? maybe, maybe not, since his whole statement is with reference to what he feels not equal to his Standards.

Intentional? maybe not, could be out of seer frustration. But he should have been more careful with his choices of words.

He could have simply said "Cheap Contractors" or "Low Bidder", "Bottom Feeders", "Scums of the Earth" or "Good for nothing Unskilled scamming &#@#!".

There are a lot of Middle Eastern, Africans, European and U.S based contractors who bid as low as their Asian Counterparts.

Ahhhhh.... Should have

Ahhhhh.... Should have cleaned my eye glasses! suck into reviving a sleeping thread.....

Don't respond to old threads

Don't respond to old threads (not even once!).

Or Nazi geishas will be after you Tongue

watch out...

Petra will get you for using that word....(not that it ever stop me from using Grammar Nazi)

I miss the time when she's

I miss the time when she's still active here.. I wonder what job oDesk gave her and if she lurks here sometimes.

ODesk Payment Method

Thank you ODesk for giving opportunity in good Payment Method.

This is really funny.. We all

This is really funny..

We all scream about You eliminated sorting of Contractor Search Results ?

I was 5 Star (Lost 5 Star rating at 28 July 2011) and at that time I tried to search myself being employer and my profile didn't appear even the Keywords in my profile, skills, active contract, ended contract, feedback etc.

I tried every SEO technique with my profile to bring it up in the search system but all in vain.

Since I loose my 5 Star rating, my profile start appearing on first and second page of search area. This is really great, Right??

So, all I conclude after getting these analysis. Being a low feedback rating bump you up in searching system.

Lets make your employer crazy to give you low feedback to give more chances to get work on this platform. Really Funny isn't it?

Alas!! I never get back my 5 Star rating in All-time Rating. I was really sad loosing that place after 2 consecutive years. But finally I break down the new search system algorithm after loosing 5 Star, which they never revealed after asking 100 times.

Read the above given topic, we already scream a lot. Low Feedback, Low Logged Hours, Low Skills, Low Test Rates appearing above us. Now I am part of it.

When it was Sorting System I was worried about my 5 Star Ratting to be in top and getting more work, even refunded money to employer who even gave me 4.9 Stars. But I guess I don't worry about it and let it go, it is giving me more chances to get work.


Faisal B.
Lier, Norway.

Sergey, We value contractors

We value contractors like you. You have been with oDesk for a long time and the oDesk marketplace and employers have benefited from your contributions.

I'd like to make two points:
First of all yes, you are correct that we promote contractors that are applying for jobs. However note that it is not just job applications but also success rate in those job applications that matter. We are certainly not trying to encourage spamming of the employers. We are, however, trying to encourage an active and vibrant marketplace where skilled contractors are searching and applying for appropriate jobs.

The second point I'd like to make is that a large percentage of jobs and hires are made from public jobs. When employers invite contractors to interview for a job over half of the invites go without a response. Contractors not responding (most likely because they are engaged elsewhere), negatively impacts the employer's experience of oDesk. They come away thinking that the talent they were hoping for is not on oDesk. This leads to lost employers. For the long term health of our marketplace, we can not let that happen. Contractors with appropriate skills, that are more available and eager to apply end up ranking higher than contractors that do not apply to jobs or respond to inquiries.

Sergey, I hope this helps answer some of your concerns. The dialog is important to us at oDesk.

Some I should Share

However note that it is not just job applications but also success rate in those job applications that matter.

=> This is Not in contractors control, cos employers mostly at Odesk look for cheap works, like from Philippians & all.

We are certainly not trying to encourage spamming of the employers.

=> Well, This Statement make me feel EEK! there are bunch of employers still doing that, & Unfortunately you don't have a Block option. & Each time I have to go to live chat & waste my time to report him/her.

We are, however, trying to encourage an active and vibrant marketplace where skilled contractors are searching and applying for appropriate jobs.

=> Can U please explain How ? Cos May be I or other are Not an expert like you guys. As you guys work with Odesk, so you may be knowing the rules , well. Please share , with the community.

Contractors not responding (most likely because they are engaged elsewhere), negatively impacts the employer's experience of oDesk. They come away thinking that the talent they were hoping for is not on oDesk.

=> Exactly , This is where Odesk, Lacks of, Why don't you guys offer an time limit to respond option, for the invitation ? Despite of accusing Contractors of NOt respoding ? I guess this would help Odesk.

They come away thinking that the talent they were hoping for is not on oDesk. This leads to lost employers.

=> This is what happens at peopleperhour & elance. I have many employers with me, frustrated from these sites. And they are happy with me working.

Bottom point : Why I came here, is . I am tired of applying jobs, Employers , just don't respond to applications for more than 2 days & I have to forcibly withdraw it, cos I have to apply to others. Now employers don't respond, Note this point please.

Also , I don't appear well, on search results. Factors :

1. Feedback : highest number of feedback + rating scrore
2. ID verified.
3. Hours worked ?
4. How active at Odesk ?

Are these factors ever considered ? Cos tell you the fact, if employers will not send the Invitation to the right contractor, it is MOST likely not to be responded or incomplete. Leaving to a Bad Experience. This is the most important point to any business. USER EXPERIENCE. If you can afford it , Fine . But If can't , should take actions.

Please pardon me, for any kind of typo errors, as I got my hours packed at odesk to work. so was in Rush Smile

Zahir Khan


cheap works like from Philippians?


EEK! I guess it's a new country, haven't heard of it before!

Philippines you mean? LOL

Philippines you mean? LOL *Sorry, I thought this is a new post. In reply to [Submitted 10/01/2012 @ 10:38 pm]* I don't see delete option to delete this post, so just updated with a note.

Philippians? What is that?

Philippians? What is that?

An Epistle?

Hmmm..... the only place where I see the word 'Philippians' is the New Testament of the Holy Bible:

Are you referring to this? Smile



Veni, Vidi, Vici.

But wait

You also introduced the other crap with hiding contractors based on another marvelously thought off algorithm which removed good standing contractors because why now!

Based on these 2 features, I feel oDesk is in fact failing it's end of the deal, which is put me in touch with potential employers. Why should I keep mine. With these 2 features you are in fact in breach of contract.

*cough* necropost *cough*

*cough* necropost *cough*

I knew zombies are coming

with all the necro posts being resurrected and all ahahah Laughing out loud

as far as i could tell since

as far as i could tell since you started posting that's what you've been doing with most dead threads.

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." - Maya Angelou
Try harder, or care less.

Show evidences of this

Show evidences of this please. Specially since you stated I do it with MOST dead threads. Doing it once or twice or even a few times doesn't jive with the use of the word MOST. Someone badly needs coffee and its not me.

this thread is a good

this thread is a good example. anyway, i'm too busy to dig up other old threads that you revived, so yeah, whatever.

someone badly needs to stop being defensive and it's not me. Smile

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." - Maya Angelou
Try harder, or care less.

Someone needs to stop saying

Someone needs to stop saying things he/she cannot back up.

Oh well I checked someone's profile and someone is 'busy' indeed.

okay, i'll stop. i understand

okay, i'll stop. i understand it can be annoying when you get called out for sounding phony and trying to look cute. i mean, talking about a zombie apocalypse because of an increased number of old posts suddenly reviving when you yourself necroposted... oh, well. Smile

thanks for assuming i only work in oDesk. now i can totally appreciate Misty's comment about how assumptions can make an (insert first 3 letters of "assume" here) of oneself. Wink

oh, and by the way, i don't take coffee, thanks for assuming that as well. i noticed some coffee drinkers can get more and more defensive the longer you have a conversation with them. has to do with the caffeine, i guess. take care! Smile

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." - Maya Angelou
Try harder, or care less.

Thanks for being too 'busy'

Thanks for being too 'busy' looking up my posts but not addressing the original question. Resorting to personal attacks when you got called up to prove a product of your creative imagination is very mature of you indeed.

When you make a comment, make sure you are not pointing 3 fingers back at you. Some people just love talking about themselves that they project their own issues into everything.

If you do not like the use of the word 'zombies' and you think that using that word is a way to look 'cute', then something is wrong with your idea of cute. The zombie reference is an attempt at humor (which you seem to lack), but attempt at being cute? Hmmm...Surprising you think that way, its really funny. Necro = dead = zombie. Even a kid knows what that is. So to further explain, necro post = zombie post (and I will continue to use the word 'ZOMBIE' no matter what you think it).

So your REAL issue is you don't like I used the word 'zombie'. That's nice of you to remember I used 'zombie apocalypse' on another thread too (which by the way is recent). You really must be following ALL my posts with ALL the extra time you have Smile

Next time, stick to facts and the real issue (YOUR REAL ISSUE). Do not say things you cannot prove so you do not make a bigger ASSuming yourself than you think I do.

If you do not like the use of a certain word, then say so. What you said is that I revive MOST old threads, and I asked you to prove it. Since you cannot prove it, your REAL ISSUE surfaces - which is dislike of the use of the word 'zombie' which you think is cute and phony. WOW.

In my observation, comprehension is hard to come by these days but overactive imagination seems to be too the point of having too much (surplus?) of 'busy' creative literary geishas. I understand where you are coming from, so no more worries.

Stick to the original comment please, but I guess you just want to spend your lots of EXTRA time. I'm sorry I took the bait.

Note to self: Ignore and don't feed people who are projecting their own issues unto others.

I am on the Top Category on Customer Service and Suppport

Hello Guys.. I am on Top 10 in Search Category in Customer Support and Service.... yahooo...

Odesk search :(

Really Sorry to say this, but Odesk search for contractor fails in every criteria this post claims to state that the search engine is based on.

Here is a live example:

The Search term was amazon ec2 and this happens to be the first skill set defined on my profile.

So I asked one of my employer to do a search with that term, and he said he was amazed to see that I figured below a member who had this metric

Stats of the guy who figured before me on the search:

  1. All time Jobs: 32
  2. All time Stars: 3.91
  3. All time hours: 285
  4. 6 months Jobs: 3
  5. 6 months Stars: 3.07
  6. 6 months hours: 3
  7. Last work date: April 29, 2012 (so no jobs worked on for the last 5 months atleast)

My Stats:

  1. All time Jobs: 74
  2. All time Stars: 4.90
  3. All time hours: 3012
  4. 6 months Jobs: 19
  5. 6 months Stars: 4.88
  6. 6 months hours: 1424
  7. Last work date: October 7, 2012

So on which grounds was I ranked lower in the search:

  1. Keyword match: Hmm "Amazon Ec2" is my first skill set, so where was the mis-match
  2. Availability: I seem to be more available merely on the stats above.
  3. Effectiveness: I dont know of any employer who would hire a person with 3.07 star above a person with 4.88 star.

So what went wrong? Where did the Search Algorithm Mess up......

Nazila and ODesk you should start understanding that your search algorithm are very bad and also to the fact that long term contracts are not public, but mostly on a invite basis. A employer who wants to go for a invite-only project can only rely on the Search. With this kind of search results you are not only frustrating the faithful contractors but also the employers.

I requested 5 of my present/past employers to do this search test and they all came back with the same result and their conclusion was the odesk search sucks.

Also note the employers didnot use any filter, so I asked them why didnt they do it.. answer was "havent seen a filter on google search".. understand this please.. we are in the Google Age, where a search engine needs to give predictable and accurate search results with or without the filter.. the filter is only to narrow the search.. NOT to show that a 3.09 star is better than 4.88 star..


Odesk search completely sucks, and I know they are not going to change it, Odesk will do every thing to get jobs for new contractors who have not worked even for 10 hours and has no feedback. They removed option to "Make profile private, visible to only employers" so that new contractors can write their profiles from experts and now they put them on top of search. Just wow.

Unfair Search Result

Hello to everybody,

From about 3-4 mounths something is wrong in showing the search result.
Till then I was on the main page.
I have 82 jobs, 1221 hours of project, 4,99 rating. I think these are the most important parameters when a contractor need to see.

Now I am on page 10 and continue to go down. Why?
I opened 4 tickets at oDesk .. only confusion and bad information.
First they said the result is random and is nothing that affects the result.
But, the result is every day the same ...
After that they said the parameters can not be disclosed ... why?
So, there are parameters that affect the result for a simple word (a skill) search, and why are not public if it is a free competition?

It looks something racial here .. and very unfair.
I read all the comments above and I can say the same thing, the professional people with good reputation and lots of hours, giving a lot of money to oDesk are droped down by search results ...

The supervisor did not want to talk to me and the operator said they have no power here ..

I believe the oDesk management MUST come with some explanations
What do you thing? Will be like the last supervisor answer? (is not in his power?)

Gabriel Bunbac

oDesk Search

oDesk Team. Your search is really bad. Please fix it. It is really effecting the top contractors.


Many thanks for this new search for making me unemployed...

I am working on oDesk from last 3 years. But i now realize that this market place is not good for contractors they are only supporting employers.
I am contacting support from a long time regarding contractors search but after contacting them many times i even don't know what is the issue. Whatever my question is they reply that this is oDesk policy and we cannot provide you more details.

My profile is not coming in search and not even at last position. I am not looking to come at top in search i just wanted to come in even last position is fine for me but i am not there and no one on oDesk don't want to tell me why i am not in search. I just want someone authorized person to reply from oDesk i am not looking for some funny replies from oDesk users who cannot solve my problem.