oDesk September Buyer Newsletter: Writing a Killer Job Description
Jacqueline Pittenger 8613 posts - United States - Joined Jan 07 2008
Writing a Killer Job Description
There are more than 100,000 providers on oDesk. You, however, don't want 100,000 providers. You may want one provider -- the one who offers the best combination of experience, reliability and affordability. And the thing is, you're competing on any given day with dozens of other buyers to get her attention. On a random day this month, 550 jobs popped up for a search of Graphic Design, and nearly a thousand for PHP. We have a lot of talent on oDesk, and a lot of buyers, but there's no reason you shouldn't have first pick. The secret to that: writing a killer job description.
The best people aren't worried about keeping busy, and they're not throwing themselves at any job that comes along. They've got two priorities: work that is interesting or challenging, and work that can turn into longer projects, so they can spend more time billing hours and less typing up cover letters on spec.
When you get to the point of conducting interviews with hopeful applicants, you're in control -- you're doing the hiring. When a provider sits down to sift through the latest job posts, he's deciding whom to apply to -- he's hiring you, in a sense. Here's how to make yours work:
Make it interesting -- no one wants to be bored, and talented people have multiple options.
Be open and informative -- providers want a strong communicator, and they want to see that you understand the project you're hiring for. "Need programmer to build website" will not draw the best people. Give details, especially about deadlines and deliverables.
Identify yourself and your company. If this isn't appropriate, write a sentence about who you are and what your company does. Specify requirements, including skills tests, so the candidate can take them before applying. Also note required tools, including software and applications, plus time commitments and other necessities. Detailed requirements let the candidate self-assess whether she'll be a good fit.
Share examples of work that looks like what you want. Need a shopping cart added to your site? Point to a site whose functionality and design you want to use as a guideline (just don't infringe on any intellectual property).
Offer incentives -- If there's the potential for longer-term work, say so. We've found this to attract more, and better, candidates. Perhaps you'd like to offer a bonus for reaching a milestone.
Have you ever sorted through resumes and were appalled by the way some completely fail to interest you? Look at your job description with the same eye. Is it compelling? Does it draw the right candidates and clearly discourage those with, say, insufficient experience or a current inability to meet your deadline? Are you selling yourself to the best talent out there, or just throwing your doors open to whoever is desperate enough to apply?
Success Stories: DIGICorp
DIGICorp was founded in 2003 and now maintains between 50 and 60 employees in bustling Ahmedabad, India. The company specializes in customized application development in .NET, PHP, Windows Mobile and Facebook platforms, particularly for the healthcare, social networking and social media realms. Just 6 months after signing up as a provider company, oDesk jobs account for 25% of 5-year old DIGICorp. The company works for about three buyers at a time and cofounder Abhishek Desai is talking about expanding staff -- in-house, or via oDesk.
Q: Some providers describe a learning curve before establishing themselves on oDesk. When did it click for you?
A: I think the best thing I did was creating my profile and my company's profile as per guidelines provided by oDesk. Also, I apply to carefully selected jobs that I think we are really capable of doing. And I write personalized cover letters for all my applications. I don't believe in just copy-pasting readymade cover letters. Because of all these, I can say I hit the ground really fast after becoming a member of oDesk.
Q: When you're choosing which jobs to apply for, what tips you off about the best opportunities, versus the ones you decide not to pursue?
A: We tend to apply to jobs of a certain size, usually four weeks or longer. That does not mean we don't do smaller jobs -- if a job is interesting enough, we tend to pursue it. From the job description a buyer has written, you get to know how much the buyer is interested in really going forward. I like to work with a buyer who is equally excited to have his/her project up and running.
Q: If a buyer asks you how to attract the best providers, what's your advice?
A: Carefully choose them by reading their cover letters first. Make sure you have providers who have written a personalized letter for you. This means the provider cares about your job and he/she has already spent time understanding it. After that, it depends on the interview. Go for the provider who is as passionate for your project as you are.
To read the full interview, click here.
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oDesk has been making friends left and right. If you look at our partners page, you'll see some new faces in that distinguished crowd:
The Intelligent Communities Initiative aims to help local businesses see how easily they can move from brick-and-mortar to a virtual operations paradigm, including using remote talent. ICI offers certification programs for U.S.-based telecommuters, which are available to oDesk providers and can be promoted on their profiles.
Clarizen is a leading provider of collaborative online project management software that allows businesses to easily manage projects, resources, timelines and budgets in a single environment. Clarizen's software-as-a-service (SaaS) structure helps teams and projects get up and running instantly and is well poised to enhance oDesk users capabilities in managing complex projects.
Zend is the center of the PHP universe, and it will support staffing marketplaces like oDesk through the Zend Certified Engineer (ZCE) program. The ZCE program is a rigorous test of a candidate's skills and, with 3,500 ZCEs worldwide, the certification has become the de facto standard for the global PHP industry. oDesk providers can register their ZCE certifications in their oDesk profiles, providing valuable additional information to businesses looking for PHP experts.
The nonprofit BSD Certification Group is crafting a global certification standard for system administration on BSD-based operating systems. We're partnering with them to promote a high standard of excellence in FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and DragonFlyBSD. Information related to these skills can be seen at oDesk FreeBSD Administrator trends. The BSD Certification Group promotes jobs to its user base and oDesk encourages any BSD administrators to get the best BSD certifications available.
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