• Ready to get your job done?

    You can find, hire, and manage a flotilla of freelancers on oDesk

  • Get your job done—on demand

    Click through below to learn how to tackle virtually any project on your timeline and terms.

  • Post a job—it’s free!

    Post your job description to thousands of potential hires. You’ll get applications from skilled candidates—often within minutes.

  • Make a hire

    Review work histories, client feedback, test scores, and portfolios to narrow down the field. Then set up a virtual interview to chat with and choose the best candidate.

  • Track progress

    Tracking your project is easy. Monitor activity, send messages, and review work-in-progress snapshots with our smart management tools.

  • Pay without paperwork

    oDesk handles all financial transactions, sending secure payments to freelancers across the globe. Just use our Work Diary to review hours, and we’ll take care of the rest!

Scroll down for answers to all things oDesk.
Getting work done on oDesk is easy.
  • 1

    Post a job

    Post your job description to thousands of potential hires.

  • 2

    Make a hire

    Review applicant profiles, then interview and hire your favorite candidate.

  • 3

    Track progress

    Monitor activity and work-in-progress snapshots with our management tools.

  • 4

    Pay without paperwork

    oDesk handles all financial transactions, sending secure payments worldwide.

Hiring Tips

Get tips on how to find and hire the best freelancer from a longtime oDesk client.

What kind of work can I get done?

Anything you can do on a computer—from graphic design to software development—can be done on oDesk. Our freelancers can tackle a wide range of projects:

  • Big or small
  • Short or ongoing
  • Individual or team-based

Whether you need a writer to knock out a 500-word blog post or a full-fledged software development team to support your business, our tools and talent can accommodate.

How do I hire the right freelancer?

Finding the right person for your project starts with writing a great job post. Describe what you need done and the skills you’re looking for—you’ll get qualified applicants, almost immediately. (We’ll even search out and send skilled candidates your way.)

Applicants will submit cover letters and a link to an oDesk profile highlighting their:

  • Work history and education
  • Portfolios and work samples
  • Client ratings and reviews
  • Language and communication skills

From there, just interview your strongest candidates and hire your favorite! And if you’d prefer some hands-on help, we have free recruiting services available to help you pick the perfect person.

Client Chris Clegg shares his tips
for finding great freelancers.
How does payment work?

Payments to freelancers are painless and stress-free. Start by choosing your preferred payment method:

  • Credit card
  • PayPal
  • Bank account

Once the work begins, we’ll bill your account and send a secure payment to your freelancer. No invoices, no paperwork, no worries!

Pay your freelancer per hour or per project, whichever you choose. oDesk only gets paid once work begins. We receive 10% of each payment. For example, if you pay your freelancer $20, they earn $18 and we receive $2.

How do I know I’m protected?

Your protection is our first priority! And we’ve developed the tools and processes to be sure you get the work you deserve.

Work Diary

This handy-dandy tool captures work-in-progress snapshots of your freelancer’s screen. Taken at 10-minute intervals only when your freelancer is billing time to an hourly contract, the Work Diary makes it easy to see that work is being done.

Escrow Protection and Dispute Resolution

With escrow, pay only when you approve work. Should an issue arise, our support team will help solve the problem.

A History of Success

Take a look at our Make it Work eBook to learn first-hand how a few of our most successful clients grew their businesses with online work.

Guaranteed Talent

Freelancers with a Money-Back Guarantee stamp on their profile are covered by our Money-Back Guarantee. Hire one to an hourly contract, and if you are at all unsatisfied within the first two work weeks, you can get your money back—no questions asked.

How do I get started?

The three steps to getting started are:

  1. signing up on oDesk.
  2. defining your project.
  3. posting a job.

So, if you haven’t already, sign up as a client—be sure to add your details and a payment method.

Now it’s time to define your project. Outline your goals, deliverables, the skills you’re looking for, and your desired deadline. By thinking through and articulating your needs, you make it easier to write an effective job post and explain your job to others.

Hiring for a project outside of your technical experience? Sign up to talk with one of our recruiting experts. The service is free, and they can help you write a job post that is effective and attracts the best candidates. We’ve found that many clients get great information from the freelancers they contact, so don’t hesitate to talk with interested candidates to get their opinion on the skills you need for the job.

Now that you know what you need, post a job! Be sure to include as much detail as possible. And here’s a little tip—”pre-screen” applicants by requesting in your job post that they answer a simple question when they apply. Toss out any applications that don’t include your answer. You can also scout your own talent by searching for freelancers and inviting qualified individuals to apply.

How do I evaluate my applicants?

A proper evaluation begins with the basics—cover letter, skills, and feedback.

Scan the cover letter for content, communication level, and attention to detail. The cover letter should tell you instantly whether the applicant has the communication abilities critical to working online, and whether their skills match your project. If you asked them in your job post to answer a simple question and they didn’t, hide their application and move on.

Next, review their profile to determine if they have the skill set and experience you need. Screen according to:

Star ratings and feedback. Look for high ratings (above 4.5 stars) and positive client comments. Work history and experience. Have they completed jobs similar to yours and shown progression in their work and rates?

Client clues. Being rehired by the same client for multiple projects is a very good sign. So is being assigned to large, ongoing jobs.

Total oDesk hours. There are great freelancers who are new to oDesk and have the right skills you need. However, if they’re new to online work, we recommend a more hands-on style of management as they learn the ropes.

Portfolio. Do you like what you see? Is the work quality consistent?

Tests and certifications. Look for scores in the top 20% of the skills you’re hiring for.

If the applicant passes this initial screening, contact them directly to get the conversation going. We recommend also asking a few project-specific questions to get further evidence of their experience and written communication skills.

Did all go well? Time for an interview! For smaller jobs, a quick chat or email exchange may be all you need. If you’re hiring for longer term or more complex projects, interview via live chat or video call to confirm they’re a good fit. Ask them about work similar to yours and to explain how they would approach your project.

Last, but definitely not least...hire a few top candidates for a short “test-drive” job to determine if their skills and personality are up to par. Give them a day or a few hours to complete a small portion of your job. If you’re happy with the quality, speed of work, and communication, then make the hire and kick off the project in full!

How do I choose the best freelancer?

You posted a great job description and whittled down your applicant list to a few outstanding candidates. Now, how to choose which one will be best?

Place a premium on written communication abilities when hiring. There is often a strong correlation between the ability to express yourself via writing and overall communication and work skills.

And then there’s the test drive! Hire your top picks to perform a small part of your project. This will give you a chance to evaluate their work first-hand and them an opportunity to prove their skills.

Give them from a few hours up to a day to deliver. When they do, review the work to determine how efficiently they worked, their communication skills, and the quality of their work. This should tell you everything you need to know to make the best hire!

How much should I pay my freelancer?

You’ll find a very wide range of rates based on a freelancer’s skills, experience, feedback, and work history on oDesk. And though a seasoned mobile app developer is going to command a higher rate than a rookie virtual assistant, there are a few rules of thumb to follow when you’re negotiating a rate and setting your budget.

What’s your management style? Are you a hands-on, enthusiastic manager who likes to follow a project closely every step of the way? Or would you rather be a little less involved? If you don’t have the time to actively manage your freelancer, hire a more experienced candidate who is willing to proactively manage their project and keep you in the loop.

Is it a specialized skill? Proven, qualified specialists, particularly in technical fields, will typically command a higher rate. Think twice before you hire a Ruby on Rails “expert” whose hourly rate is $2!

How familiar are you with the skill you’re hiring for? If you’re hiring outside your comfort zone and aren’t prepared to accurately evaluate a project’s progress, we recommend paying a little extra to secure a qualified freelancer with proven experience and great client feedback, hiring a technically savvy recruiter, or working with one of the agencies on oDesk who will staff the project with their vetted talent.

At the end of the day, while you can still find fantastically affordable help on oDesk, the old saying “you get what you pay for” generally applies. Or, as our client Chris Clegg told us, “if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait ‘til you see how much it costs to hire an amateur.”

How do I kick off a project?

A good kick off meeting sets the groundwork for a smoothly running project. It’s your big chance to get your new freelancer (and anyone they’ll be working with) ramped up and ready to go. And it’s even more important if you’re working with a freelancer for the first time.

Introduce yourself and your team. Take a little time to get to know each other by talking about the job, your business, and your background.

Set expectations and ground rules. Go over what you expect from your freelancer, and what they can expect from you. This can include timing, delivery methods, priorities, and anything else important to the success of the project. Is it okay for your freelancer to add manual time? How often will you check their Work Diary? Talk about these and any online work-specific behaviors now.

Agree upon a communications plan. The importance of clear and consistent communication can’t be underestimated! Decide how and how often you should touch base, what hours of each day you’ll both be available to IM, and what you’d like from them in terms of a work progress report. We recommend an end-of-day report detailing what was accomplished and what will be done the following day.

Remember, the more info you give your freelancer about the job, the better. So take the time to cover all your bases, reiterate your project requirements, and kick things off on a high note!

What’s the best way to communicate with my freelancer?

You’ve got multiple options when it comes to communicating with your freelancer, so choose whatever works best for both of you. Here are the ones we recommend:

Good, old-fashioned email. For longer communications, we’re fans of email, as it allows you to really document and detail your work communications and requests. The oDesk Message Center is an excellent resource for centralizing your online work communications, but you can also use a personal or business email account.

Instant message. Great for getting a quick question answered or for touching base. Be sure to establish daily times when both you and your freelancer will be online and available.

Video chat. Sometimes, it’s just nice to connect face-to-face with your freelancer. Skype and Google Hangout are two leading video chat services.

Regardless of how you do it, communicating often and clearly is the key to keeping your project on track!

How do I know if my freelancer is working?

If you’re communicating well and using our online tools to monitor progress, you should be able to get a pretty clear picture of how many hours your freelancer is working, on what, and how well.

Check their Work Diary daily. Your freelancer’s Work Diary provides a work-in-progress screenshot every ten minutes. It also records activity level by monitoring keystrokes and mouse clicks (but not what was written or clicked) and a memo entered by your freelancer describing the work. It’s a great tool for auditing what work is being done and number of hours worked.

Communicate daily. Communication is critical to establishing work progress and quality. Ask your freelancer to provide you with a daily end-of-day report detailing what was accomplished and what will be done the following day.

What should I do to make my project a success?

While every project is different, there are certain principles that will always help guide your job to success.

Know what you want. Be crystal clear about what you want to achieve with your project before you post a job or hire. It’s easier to explain the job and find the right talent once you’ve articulated your goals and deliverables for yourself.

Hire well. Just as in the offline world, the key to a job well done is to hire the right person to do it. So, particularly for larger, ongoing jobs, take your time and vet your candidates well. Evaluate them first through their cover letter and portfolio, then during a real-time interview, and finally by hiring them for a short, test-drive project.

Communicate, communicate, communicate! We know we say this a lot, but communicating clearly, thoroughly, and consistently is just too important not to make a big deal about.

Be an active manager. The temptation with online work is to toss the job over the wall and hope that your freelancer delivers the job on time and up to par. Online or off, this isn’t the best way to ensure great results. Be sure to actively engage your freelancer—don’t be afraid to check in, ask to see work in progress, or request daily updates.

Provide feedback. Is the work going well? Then be sure to give your freelancer a virtual pat on the back. Positive feedback goes a long way towards building long-lasting work relationships and fostering great work. On the other hand, if you’re not satisfied with their output, say something! Be polite, but clear in your constructive criticism—there’s a good chance your freelancer didn’t know you were dissatisfied and will adjust to live up to your expectations.

I didn’t find the freelancer I need. What do I do?

If you posted a job and you just didn’t get the applicants you were hoping for, there are a few things you can do.

Revise your job post. Go back and take a look at your original post. Was it detailed enough? Did it clearly and accurately articulate your project? Do a search for similar job posts to get insight into what other people are asking for and how they’re wording it.

Increase your compensation. Are you requesting a mountain of work for minimal pay? Posts with below average compensation simply don’t attract top talent.

Scout your own talent. Do a freelancer search to pinpoint people with the skills and experience you need. Contact qualified candidates with an invitation to interview for your job.

Add a payment method. If you haven’t already, be sure to add credit card as your primary payment method. You won’t be charged until you hire and work begins, but it proves to experienced freelancers that you are serious about hiring and have a proven ability to pay.

I’m not sure it’s working out. Now what?

If your project isn’t going along as planned, step back and consider these possibilities as you reassess the job.

Talk it out. Get in touch with your freelancer to express your concerns. Be upfront about why you are unhappy, and give them clear directions for rectifying the situation. There’s a chance they had no idea you were unhappy and can easily correct the course of events.

Manage more actively. Misunderstandings most often arise when one or both parties aren’t communicating effectively. If you feel like your wires are crossed too often, be more proactive in your management style—check in often, ask to see work in progress, or request daily updates.

Trust your instincts. If your sixth business sense tells you that a freelancer isn’t honest or is giving you the runaround, trust your gut and end the relationship. There are plenty of trustworthy, hardworking professionals out there ready to step in and do the work.

How do I hire and manage a larger team on oDesk?

Whether your team is growing rapidly as you get the hang of distributed work, or you’re migrating an existing team onto the oDesk platform, here are some best practices to get more done with a larger team of freelancers.

Get help recruiting. We have free recruiting services to help you find talent and staff your projects.

Hire a project or team manager. Hire a professional project manager on oDesk to manage your team as you grow, or promote internally if one of your standout freelancers is ready to step into a team leadership role.

Build a team culture. Once you have more than a few freelancers, you’ll want to ensure your team is all working in sync. Introductions and team check-ins go a long way.

Got a 20+ team? Contact our Enterprise Solutions team. They have different levels of support services that are flexible, affordable, and remarkably manageable.


Want to learn more?

Sign up for webinar