Top 5 Tips to Find the Right Contractors on oDesk

oDesk (now Upwork), the undisputed number 1 virtual freelance contractors platform, permits you to hire virtual contractors across varied industries. You can hire a contractor for doing virtually anything.

You can find a contractor for Design & Multimedia, Software Development, Customer Service, Business Services, Writing & Translation, Networking & Information Systems, Web Development, Administrative Support, and Sales Marketing. Within these categories, oDesk lists over a thousand skills that cover A–Z. For instance, under A you can hire contractors who specialize in over a hundred skill-sets such as Adobe InDesign, Amazon Web Services, Artificial Intelligence, Arabic, Accounting, and more.

While oDesk is quite useful for hiring virtual contractors, it’s open to numerous types of abuse. These tips will help you dodge the pitfalls and hire winners on oDesk.

Tip #1: Eliminate Generic Applicants

Since oDesk attracts contractors from 100+ nations, you get dozens of applications for your job post within a matter of hours. Over 75% of these contractors are generic applicants who respond to literally every job post. They merely copy and paste their responses, hoping to land a contract. Hence, eliminating generic applicants is unquestionably your topmost priority. And it’s extremely simple. Ask the applicants to begin their response with one unique phrase. You could use any phrase such as “I understand,” “Start immediately,” or “Ready to Start.” Remember to place this password phrase in your job post in such a manner that applicants become aware of it only if they read through the entire job post.

Within a few hours after posting your job, you will find several responses without your “password.” Just delete these applications. oDesk presents you another option to eliminate generic applicants. You just need to write some relevant questions related to your job. Ask the applicants to answer these questions. A word of caution: frame unique questions. oDesk provides you some questions to choose from. Remember, some generic applicants are crafty enough to come up with cut and paste answers for these questions as well. Unique questions will stump generic applicants. Ensure that answering all your questions will take them at least 10–15 minutes. Their answers will give you a correct picture of their skills, determination, experience, character, ability, etc.

Tip #2: Select the Most Appropriate Job Post Title

The finest way to attract the best contractors for your project is to avoid writing boring job post titles. For instance, if you’re looking to hire a contractor who’s knowledgeable about accounts, you must avoid a job post title such as, “Looking for an Accounts Specialist.” The perfect job post title would be, “Looking for a Reliable Accounts Payable Management Specialist” or “Looking for an Accounts Receivable Management Expert.” In the online marketplace, the right title attracts the best talent. When you’re posting jobs on oDesk, sound friendly and energetic. But be specific.

Tip #3: Explain the Project/Assignment Clearly

Ensure that your first few sentences summarize your job correctly. Your target contractor must understand your requirements clearly. Since the difference in the skill levels of the top contractors applying for your project tends to be negligible, you have everything to gain by designing a carefully worded job description that’s self-explanatory.

Additionally, you have to be specific about the type of contractor you’re looking for and your budget. oDesk permits you to select contractors at the Entry, Intermediate and Expert levels. Your job description must include:

  • Contractor skills
  • Length of the project
  • Preferred communication channels
  • Frequency of communication

You can attract the best contractors on oDesk by merely sounding clear, friendly and polite.

Tip #4: Interview the Chosen Applicants

On oDesk, you can hope to be left with half a dozen capable applicants in less than 48 hours. However, before hiring a contractor, it’s better to invite them on Skype and conduct a full-scale interview. This interview enables you to see the contractor and assess their body language. Depending on your industry, you can request the contractor to show their portfolio of completed work that’s similar to your project. You can even test their skills quickly because they may not be able to “Google” the right answers in a Live interview. You can even hire an expert to test the contractor.

Tip #5: Break Your Project Into Manageable Milestones

Even if your project will take a long time to complete, break it into manageable milestones. Initially, you must hand the new contractor only the first set of deliverables. This approach empowers you to reduce the risk of employing a contractor whose work ethics and timeliness don’t match yours. You also get full control of all completed work and pay for only the completed work. Regardless of the contractor’s skill or industry, splitting the project into clear-cut milestones is critical. If the contractor delivers the output you expect, you can retain their services. If not, you can end the contract and hire afresh.

Take the Lean approach. Your project becomes cost-effective, flexible, and manageable. In the virtual workplace, the Lean approach is foolproof and result-oriented.


Finding the right contractors on oDesk is very simple if you follow the tips I have mentioned here. oDesk has made several helpful innovations this year. As an employer, you can avoid online hiring blues by making optimal use of all the features this platform offers.

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