8 Tips to Hire Online with Elance or UpWork

By Jim McKenzie Smith, an EO Portland member

Elance and UpWork, online staffing platforms, have become increasingly popular for small to medium size businesses; they’re easy to use, convenient for posting jobs, and I’ve found affordable talent to fill positions. The contractor can be anywhere in the world, thanks to cloud-based services, and other business owners can post feedback ratings and reviews of the contractors. It’s a great way to hire locally or internationally for a variety of positions. Some of the jobs I’ve advertised include: QA/Usability Engineer, Software Developer, Graphic Design, Data Entry, Blog Writing, SEO, PPC, and Online Research.

Having posted many jobs through these, here are eight tips I can offer:

  1. Give the job post a good title. Spend some time thinking about the title.  What will intrigue talented people to click on the title of the job? Don’t just give it a one or two word title, like “Blog Writer”.  Instead, I’d say something like “12 Original WordPress Articles: How College Students Can Save Money”. This is more specific and gives them a teaser as to what the job entails.
  2. Be very descriptive about exactly what needs to be done. Something like, “You must have “x, y, and z.” I will give a bulleted list in the description when I post a job. And I try to add what the specific deliverables will be. The better I explain it, the more adept my candidates.
  3. Create an unlisted YouTube video and post a link to it in the description field. I’ve often used a tool called Snagit to create a quick video screen capture of exactly what I need done, and then uploaded the video to YouTube.
  4. Ask questions in the job post. This helps me screen out applicants. At the end of the description, I say something like, “To apply, please answer the following questions: 1)… 2)… 3)…”  The questions can be experience-related, for example. If the applicant does not answer all of my questions, then this is immediate disqualification.
  5. Feedback, feedback, feedback. There is no need to hire anyone that has a low feedback score. When I post a job, I expand the “Advanced Options” section at the bottom, selecting a specific number/rating range. This helps screen out the dead weight, once the applications start rolling in.  I also make sure they’ve billed enough hours so they have feedback from at least five different recent sources.
  6. Know how to sort and filter applicants. Both platforms allows me to sort my applicants in seven different ways: Best Match, Newest Applicants, Oldest Applicants, Feedback, Hours Billed, Rate (low to high), and Rate (high to low). In my opinion, the most useful sorts are Best Match, Feedback, and Hours Billed.  Once I’ve sorted my applicants, I make use of the Shortlist and Hide features to filter out the applicants that don’t have enough good feedback.
  7. Look for contractors that ask questions. I LOVE it when contractors ask questions about the job. This shows they are interested in the position and aren’t just using a canned template to apply for the job. I also appreciate if they mention something specific about my post, such as, “I watched the video, and I’m interested in x, y, z…” These are the crème of the crop, especially if they also have great feedback and matching qualifications.
  8. Give the contractor a test drive. If applicable, I hire them for 5 hours (or less) and have them complete a small task. For example, before I hired someone for the 12 WordPress articles, I asked a contractor to write one article. Then I evaluated how they did and went from there.

Categories: Coaching FINANCES Lessons Learned members


One Response to “ 8 Tips to Hire Online with Elance or UpWork ”

  1. Eric Pemper on

    Its refreshing to see #5 on the list. Feedback is very important when it comes to hiring someone on these online staffing platforms. After all, you don’t want to make the same mistake someone else made.


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