What's New

The oDesk Dashboard – where all your oDesk stuff lives

The oDesk Dashboard is a new page designed to be “home” for all oDesk users. It shows, at a glance, a snapshot of your entire oDesk account, with links to key pages like the team room, your financial account, your open jobs, and more. The initial includes the all-new Notifications, My Teams, Payments, My Job Openings (for buyers only), and the oDesk Learning Center. Next up is a “My Provider Activity” module, which is in development now. Every oDesk user can find their dashboard at odesk.com/dashboard.

What else would you like to see as part of your dashboard? What’s missing or needs work? Share your thoughts in the feedback forum.

Introducing Faceted Provider Search

Finding just the right oDesk providers got easier! We’ve unveiled a new advanced search box for Provider search to let you drill down into your search and find candidates who match more specific criteria. You can choose multiple categories, locations, and more.

We have a lot more improvements planned for provider search, and we’d love to hear your feedback and feature requests.

Applying to a job just got a little easier

In response to provider feedback, we have redesigned the “Apply to Job” form to make it easier to send just the right application.

  1. All-new styling brings this form in line with our design direction and sets the stage for future updates and additions.
  2. Set your rate right in-line instead of after you submit the application; by default you enter your own pay rate, but you can also set the buyer charge rate (including oDesk fees) by clicking on it.
  3. Job qualification matching is smarter, too – if you don’t meet all of the buyer’s preferred qualifications, we tell you which ones

Apply to Job - oDesk

We know there are plenty more opportunities to make this page better. Please speak up if there’s something you’d like added or changed. We are listening!

oDesk Notifications

One of the biggest complaints we get is “you guys send too much email!” And yet despite (or perhaps because of) all that email, it’s still easy to miss important things that happen in your oDesk account. With this in mind, we have developed a new system for notifying users about important account events: Notifications.

Notifications Sample

Notifications are one-line news items, most of which link to a relevant destination within odesk.com. You get a notification whenever something potentially newsworthy happens with your oDesk account. For example, if I sent an offer to a provider, the provider would get a notification that read:

Michael Levinson of Acme, Inc. contacted you about the job opening “Senior Web Developer”.

If the provider accepts the offer, I would get notified with:

John Smith’s assignment has started.

Notifications cannot be “opened” or individually read or unread; we keep track of how many new notifications you have since you last viewed your notifications, that’s it. This makes them much easier to manage, similar to Facebook notifications. Right now there is an email sent for every notification, and if you opt out of an email, you opt out of the notification as well. Soon we’ll be implementing more advanced notifications preferences, and you’ll be able to choose for each type of notification, whether to receive an email, a notification, both, or neither.

Notifications are currently in beta, and once we have polished all the content we will be phasing out “Account Alerts” and “Updates”, which today are redundant with the emails we send, and frankly, no one really reads them anyway…

The Notifications tab is available in the Message Center.

Introducing oDesk Team 3

As you may know, we have been doing a lot of work on our core oDesk Team desktop application. We are excited to announce that as of tonight, all oDesk Team users are being prompted to download oDesk Team 3.

oDesk Team has gotten a complete overhaul, on Windows, Mac, and Linux. And, it’s not just for providers anymore – in addition to its original time tracking function, oDesk Team is now a virtual office, giving buyers useful new tools to make online work and management more successful.

For Buyers

  • Always-on visibility into your entire team. See who’s “in the office” right now, and what they’re working on.
  • Chat! Instantly reach everyone in your team on one integrated platform. If they’re billing time, you can reach them.*
  • Single launch point to oDesk tools. oDesk Team gives you links to the oDesk Work Diary, Reports, Tasks, and other oDesk tools directly from your desktop.
  • Screensnap and ShortURL. Screensnap allows you to capture, annotate and instantly share screenshots right from the desktop; ShortURL converts long URLs to short ones for easy sharing over chat or email.

For Providers

  • The same automatic time tracking you currently enjoy, with some usability enhancements. Easily bill time to your buyer(s) and enjoy the oDesk payment guarantee with our “zero-click invoicing”.
  • Chat! Instantly reach everyone in your team on one integrated platform.*
  • A feeling of being in the same office as your colleagues. With the Team Room on your desktop, you get a real-time view into who is at work and what they’re working on, so you can connect, converse and collaborate.
  • Screensnap and ShortURL. Screensnap allows you to capture, annotate and instantly share screenshots right from the desktop; ShortURL converts long URLs to short ones for easy sharing over chat or email.

* A team member must be running oDesk Team 3 to participate in chat.

Download oDesk Team and let us know what you think in our feedback forum.

iPhone App Update

oDesk's iPhone App
We’ve updated the oDesk App for iPhone. In addition to being able to see everyone in your team room, their work diaries and current work status, we’ve added some of the most-requested features our users have been asking for:

  • Message Center – Communicate with your team members, interview candidates and keep abreast of updates, account alerts and support tickets
  • Team Member Pages – Stay informed of each team member’s progress and message them at any time
  • And, yes, we made it faster and even easier to use!

You want messaging, team member access and the ability to manage your team from the beach? You’ve got it.

Emailing your team is only one click away

oDesk has been recently enhancing the Message Center, and today we release our latest improvement: allowing users to send a message to their entire team through the Message Center.

Why we’re excited…
Firstly, the Message Center contains all oDesk communications. You can also set your preferences to receive a copy of your Message Center messages in your personal email.
Secondly, for those who choose to not share their personal info outside of oDesk, communicating only through the Message Center is the solution. You don’t have to know team members’ email/Skype/messenger addresses in order to contact them – you can just send team members a message directly from the Team Room.

How does it work?

    1. From your Team Room, click “Send Message to Team”.

team_room_smtt

    2. A message box will pop-up that contains a list of all your current team members which you can add to and delete from as needed.

send_team_message

    3. Add an attachment, if needed.
    4. As soon as you hit “Send” the message will go to each team member’s Message Center inbox, where they can reply to you directly or share their response with the entire team.

Depending on each user’s Message Center Preferences, a copy of the message may be sent to their personal email too.

Are you excited about this new feature, too? Got ideas for making the Message Center even better? Let us know at feedback.odesk.com!

Find the job you want – Phase II – Saved Searches & Job Alert Emails

Two months ago oDesk released a new job search page and today we’re excited to follow up with the next step – new job alert emails.

Save your Job Searches

The new system gives providers an ability to save their job searches.  Additionally this gives full control over what job alert emails they receive by marking saved job searches as emailed job alerts. We did so to make job alerts more relevant and help providers increase their chances of getting a positive response to applications.

So what’s the difference?

Until now, you signed up for email alerts by job category (and subcategory) and received alerts for all jobs posted to each and every category you’ve checked as an interest on your profile.

In place of the categories as the basis for learning about new jobs posted in the marketplace, the new system uses the alerts on search queries you save.

Because the new saved search queries are more specific than the old job alerts, you’ll be able to receive results from up to ten saved searches in a combined daily email. Additional searches can be saved for 1-click access from job search results, but will not be included in your email.

And don’t worry, we’re not taking away the ability to save searches to RSS feeds – they’re still the best option for those who want to receive alerts of new jobs as they’re posted.

What do I need to do?

Activating your new job alert emails is quite simple:

  1. Go to the job search page and run a search with your desired criteria.
  2. Save the job search and check “Email me updates to this search” for those searches you’d like to receive daily alerts. You may mark up to 10 searches to include in your daily alert email.
  3. If you are a member of any oDesk Group, you may do the same for searches performed from within the Group. You may set up a daily job alert email for each Group.

Stay tuned for more meaningful improvements over the next few months, but in the meantime, please share your feedback in the feedback forum.

New Standard Sizing for Profile Photos

square_images

In our continued effort to improve site layout and usability, today we’re introducing standard sizing of profile photos.

Profile photos will now be cropped square and rendered at 100×100, 50×50 and 32×32 pixels, depending on where they are displayed.

Why did we do this?

  • Better performance – pages such as provider profiles and the team room will load faster, thanks to lighter, standardized image sizes
  • Consistency – page layouts will be better organized and easier on the eye
  • Compliance with conventions – images and pages will look more like what you typically see on social networks such as Facebook
  • Flexibility – the new image standard is optimized for the oDesk Team desktop application and APIs

How does it affect me?

  • If you’re happy with your current photo as it appears in your profile and provider search results, no action is needed
  • If you’d like to change your photo to better fit the new square standard, simply upload a new one in your account settings page [https://www.odesk.com/account.php]

The bottom line is, for most users, the cropping will barely be noticeable. But if your profile portrait isn’t in line with the identity policy (no logos, no group pics, etc.) now would be the perfect time to fix it.

Questions or concerns? Join the discussion in the community forum. [http://www.odesk.com/community/node/9608]

Making hiring easier, part two: “Make Offer”

A month ago, we launched a new hire confirmation screen. It set the stage for a series of feature enhancements designed to make hiring on oDesk easier. Today we launch the second, and much more important, in the series. We call it “Make Offer”.

What problem are we addressing?

Today, there are only two ways to hire a provider: you can hire an applicant from your candidate list, or you can “direct hire” a provider by clicking the “Hire” button on their profile. The latter requires first posting a job. If you already know who you want to hire, you have to find them in the network, post a job if you don’t already have one, and then hire them. In addition, there is nothing stopping a buyer from hiring a provider he’s never talked to before, which can be disconcerting for the provider, to say the least!

With “Make Offer”, buyers can now propose specific engagement terms to a provider. The provider can accept or decline the terms.

Make Offer

How can this feature be used?

(1) Easily rehire a provider you’ve worked with before. To rehire someone you’ve hired before, go to the “Ended Assignments” tab and click “rehire”. You may use the same terms as the previous engagement, or propose new ones.

Rehire

(2) Bringing your own provider to oDesk. If you connect with someone outside of oDesk and want to hire them into your oDesk team, you can use the Invite User function, then go to the Team Room and click the new “Hire” link. All team members without active assignments will now have this link. It is still a two-step process but it’s a lot easier than before, and we’ll be making it even easier soon.

BYOT

(3) “Direct Hire” from the marketplace. As of today, provider profiles no longer have two separate “Hire” and “Interview” buttons. There is one button: “Contact”. That button goes to the “Invite to Interview” form, which is what most buyers will use when they find an interesting candidate in the network. But from there, if they already know the provider they can use the new “Make Offer” link on the right side of the form.

Direct Hire

What happens when you make an offer to a provider?

The provider receives an email notifying him/her of the offer. The offer also appears in the provider’s My Candidacies list, as well as the buyer’s candidate list. The provider can accept or decline the offer.

What about affiliated contractors?

Provider Company managers are cc’d on all offer notifications, just like interview invitations and hire notices today. Managers can see pending offers in the candidacy list, and can accept or decline offers.

Anything else?

Actually yes, there’s one more thing: with Make Offer we are also making available a new payment term option: weekly stipend. A stipend is a fixed weekly payment that is automatically billed each Monday. It can be used as a salary, or as a bonus or expense reimbursement in addition to the hourly rate. More on that feature in a separate post.