Last week, I walked through the opening steps of building a brand-spankin’ new oDesk profile. Most of it was simple enough gunk (name, rank, serial number), but it got tricky at the Overview and Title. Perhaps the core of the profile, these two seemingly innocuous elements are the tightly wound core of the overall success knuckle-ball. The key here was concision and simplicity: clients don’t want to wade through your murky mind nor unravel your Tetrised experience. Just pitch it straight down the center (and other sportsball references).
This week, we’re going to finish out the Profile by talking about Employment History, Education, Pay Rate, and, the newest oDesk modification Membership and Connects (as of Feb 2015).
A Brief (veryvery brief) History of Your Time: oDesk Experience, Employment
After you’ve finished the Overview and Title, oDesk profile will ask you to rate your “Experience Level” into three general Categories:Entry Level; Intermediate: Expert.
oDesk doesn’t give a lot of guidance on the differential between these categories, so go with your gut in regards to your field. I stuck to Intermediate as this isn’t my first rodeo, but I can’t quite say “Professional Editor” yet with a straight face. I suspect this scale is used as some kind of filter by the oDesk engine to screen applicants for clients, so don’t be too stingy about your background.
Right out of the gate: I don’t like the employment history setup with oDesk – there are some bizarre choices. The wizard breaks it down into discrete elements:
The Final Section of the oDesk profile-blendotron. It asks for School; Dates Attended; Degree; Area of Study; and Description. Only School and Dates Attended are required, but the wizard will plotz if you try to choose a Degree it doesn’t have listed in its auto-text function. Which means I had to list my expected Master’s Of Technical Writing from Chatham University (MPW) as a Master’s of Arts (MA). Harumph.
The Final Touches: Pay Rate, Connects
Seems fairly straight forward but the wizard is uniquely unhelpful. There is a single box, “Your Rate” in USD. Enter whatever value you see fit and the screen updates to show the 10% oDesk takes off the top and your new net total. There is NOTHING on this page to help you choose a rate besides a glib tool-tip, “This is the amount that will appear on your profile”. Well, thanks. For the first-time user, this is a complete stab in the dark. I suspect oDesk is specifically allowing the market to decide the rates, which is no help for those of us strangled by the Unseen Hand. This is another case of: learn the segment and adjust as necessary.
Membership Plans and Connects
The most recent oDesk addition to further monetize their market. I spoke with a trainer who said it was a way to weed out applicants who spammed clients with their bids, but I’m skeptical. Though the process is still new, Connects are “bid-tickets” necessary to apply for a job:
“Applying to jobs
If you’re invited to apply or are being rehired, you won’t need to use any Connects. All other applications require anywhere from 1 to 5 Connects, depending on factors such as the size and type of job. Initially, most jobs will require about 2 Connects.
If a job is cancelled without hiring (by the client or oDesk), the Connects used on that application will be returned for you to reuse. Returned Connects are subject to the usual rollover restrictions, maximums, and billing cycle timing.”
(oDesk FAQ: How Do Connects Work?)
This is a direct way to limit the number of jobs to which you can apply. 60 connects a month, each job requiring ~2+ connects means: you can only apply to ~30 jobs a month. For me, who is only planning on a few jobs a week, this won’t be a ceiling, but anyone trying to make a living off oDesk might have some serious issues. oDesk will, of course, sell you more Connects ($1 a piece) or let you buy a membership ($10 a month: Basic and Plus membership) with 70 Connects a month and some contingency for “roll-over Connects”. We’ll see how this pans out in the long-run, but I suspect this will increase competition something fierce: probably good for clients; pretty bad for applicants.
Which Brings Us to an End
That is the whole kit and kaboodle of the oDesk Profile. After you choose either Basic or Plus membership, the wizard thanks you for your time and says they will review your profile in about 12 hours – “don’t call us, we’ll call you”.
By intent, the profile is an iterative process, demanding constant tweaking and update. Like most pseudo-resumes in the digital era, you’ll need to update this with the pace of business, Tokyo time.
P.s. It’s been just over 72 hours and I haven’t heard back from oDesk regarding my profile – so much for the pace of business.
Quick word of revelation: apparently, the company is “oDesk” (small ‘o’) not “ODesk”, which might have been why they’ve taken three days to approve my profile instead of 12 hours. It’s always good to spell your employer’s name correctly.