How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

According to Wikipedia, a job board is a website recommended for job hunting, the choices presented varying from very general tasks to precise niches. In the past few years, this kind of activities practically exploded; this trend was on constant rise, before the economic crisis, things changing quite fast afterwards. Recent statistics have shown that each year the sums transacted in outsourcing are growing more and more.

When trying to demonstrate the importance of the job boards in the global economy, there is some serious evidence that we can present, meaning a very relevant number: at the moment of writing this article, stated that $87,732,495 USD were transacted since February 2004. This amount of money is enough to buy more than 30 of the most expensive cars in the world, or 2 of the most expensive yachts or maybe to produce the “Avatar” movie again, so we are speaking about a lot of money.

These job boards have been taken into consideration by a lot of freelancers and, nowadays, this is a big attraction for many of them, as there are a lot of stories about collaborations which started on a job board, kept on with projects of thousands of dollars and strong relationships. It is only a matter of time for all people to realize that a job board is a serious place where competitive people can be hired and find a good source of income. I honestly believe that it is very important to be aware that this could be a real factor in the future economy and, a regular freelancer should know that a solid presence is required, so as to gain some potential clients on these markets.

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Popular Online Job Boards

First of all, I want to present some of the most used job boards; surely, there are many and it is possible to forget some of these websites; please let me know if you know a good website and share it with us. But once again, by far this isn’t a complete list, it is only a small number used as examples:

01. Elance

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

  • Website:: Click Here
  • Jobs available:: All the domains, from Finance and Management to Design and Multimedia
  • Number of bids:: Limited, depending on the type of account
  • Registration:: Free

02. Odesk

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

  • Website:: Click Here
  • Jobs available:: all the domains
  • Number of bids:: limited, depending on the feedback and tests passed
  • Registration:: free

03. Guru

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

  • Website:: Click Here
  • Jobs available:: all the domains
  • Number of bids:: limited, depending on the type of account: basic, 10 bids every 30 days to 100 bids every 30 days for guru
  • Registration:: free for basic profiles

04. Freelancer

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

  • Website:: Click Here
  • Jobs available:: all the domains
  • Number of bids:: limited, free accounts are able to bid only on 15 different projects
  • Registration:: free for basic profiles

05. vWorker

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

  • Website:: Click Here
  • Jobs available:: all the domains
  • Number of bids:: unlimited
  • Registration:: free

06. Freelance Switch

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

  • Website:: Click Here
  • Jobs available:: all the domains
  • Number of bids:: unlimited
  • Registration:: 7$ per month
  • Observation:: Here, there are few jobs compared to the previous job boards but the employers are very serious, asking for the best services but paying very well for these.

07. Freelance Writing

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

  • Website:: Click Here
  • Jobs available:: everything related to writing
  • Number of bids:: unlimited
  • Registration:: free
  • Observation:: a really good website with good jobs for bloggers, content writers and writing enthusiasts.

08. 99designs

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

  • Website:: Click Here
  • Jobs available:: only for designers
  • Number of bids:: unlimited
  • Registration:: free
  • Observation:: I spent a lot of time on this website and I am totally amazed at how many talented designers there are here, ready to produce everyday masterpieces. I honestly believe that on this website one can find the best designers in this world.

What to Do?

There are so many opportunities to win a lot of money, that a lot of freelancers go crazy and spend many hours biding and waiting for replies. It is amazing, but there are some aspects which are good to know before starting a career on any job board you know. The positive side of this is that there aren’t very complicated strategies or things that aren’t common; for talented and honest persons, winning projects is a piece of cake. Take care of these if you want to be competitive:

01. Bid What You Can Do

I think it is instinctual to ask for more but a human being leads a rational existence, being able to ignore these rudimentary feelings, applying various strategies. Unfortunately, a lot of freelancers are not able to neglect this instinct and simply bid on everything they see on a job board! Completely wrong! An employer isn’t so stupid to not differentiate a “spam” freelancer from a specialist and, in the end, it is about the time spending in vain. Let’s suppose someone purely bid on all the jobs available and won just one but would he be able to finish the project on time? If he said that he can do everything, then there are two possibilities: first, he can actually complete the project and second, this is a fake promotional message; more importantly, the payment is done when the project is finished so it is almost impossible to gain money without doing a quality job. It is very important and helpful for the freelancer and the employer that any bidder competes only on what he can do and within a responsible deadline.

It may sound like a paradox but, if someone bids only on what he can do he has more chances of gaining money: first, if a project is awarded, then it is almost sure it can be accomplished and the remaining time (because the respective freelancer has bid on fewer opportunities) can be converted in fair proposals on other websites. Some websites fight actively against this “plague” and propose various types of accounts: usually, we are talking about a free account, the user being limited to bid on a fixed number of tasks but there are various other types of accounts with more possibilities of bidding, even unlimited in some cases but the owner should pay an extra fee.

02. Don’t Do a Facebook Project For $5

The problem of correct and ethic outsourcing was debated at InstantShift and the article is complete and it deserves a look. We all know that there are countries which have big economic problems and some which are developed, the level of living being high. Many freelancers come from countries which aren’t fully developed; certainly, it isn’t a shame to ask for work but anyone should have a moral code to guide himself or herself after.

It is a shame is to ask for elusory amounts of money; I swear, I have seen lots of projects awarded for almost nothing and this is a serious problem for these websites. I don’t understand how could a customer believe that his big project can be finished in a few hours for twenty dollars? For all guys in this situation: first, check out how much a similar project, realized by a specialized company, could cost and only afterwards ask for the services of a freelancer.

These rules are really golden not only when it comes to bidding on job boards but also in the entire career of any freelancer. Usually, a single person can’t exhibit two types of behavior so how he/she bids on job boards, the same he/she will require money when the clients ask for the services. The final result: poor quality and a waste of time!

Many experienced freelancers could consider this a stupid statement and ignore me but I honestly believe that competing on various job boards isn’t a difficult task; plus, there are almost zero probabilities not to gain a project or a client; there is a single major fact to be considered: high performance.

Any future and actual freelancer on a job board should be aware that clients don’t lose time and money only to post a job, they usually want quality work with a lower cost so try to stand out and the success is yours.

Rules For Competing Any Project

There are few major rules to keep in mind before competing for projects:

Patience and Perseverance

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

Only a very talented and lucky guy could win in a short time from his debut a project and this is the reason why the most important rule in becoming successful is to be patient and perseverant. It happens that a lot of quality portfolios and good offers are simply ignored and the projects are won in the end by poorer competitors. No one should be upset, it is the choice of the client but it is hard not to notice such things. The worst sin of a freelancer who tries to compete on any job boards is to abandon everything after some time spent there; we are speaking about months before winning a project. In fact, these characteristics are playing the big role until the first project is gained. Here comes the next rule, maybe more important than this:

Try to Always Have a Positive Feedback

Nothing is more important than having a positive evolution in the past; all the clients are always looking for the previous projects accomplished. A positive feedback is the guarantee that the freelancer knows how to handle the online projects and, more important, it is a great chance that he is very reliable. Almost all the job boards allow employers to give feedback on the hired specialists at the end of the project; a bad mark means a lack of professionalism and it is sanctioned, no one wants to experiment with you.

Another huge advantage (normally, it sometimes could be a disadvantage) is the possibility of a client to express in writing the recommendation for the respective freelancer. Potential clients don’t have time and it is much easier to perform a good selection of the bidders only by studying the testimonials. All these can be molted in a single idea: a good image is a necessary condition in the evolution of being a real competitive freelancer working on job boards. Obviously, here comes the next major factor in obtaining a good and attractive image.

Competitive Portfolio

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

Usually the possibilities of contacting the employer and persuading him that you are the best solution are very few and the majority of websites with jobs for freelancers allow only an intermediate possibility of communication. Apparently this is annoying, but seeing it in depth it is awesome; a specialist doesn’t need to speak, his works and portfolio are the supreme proof that he is truly a professional or not. It‘s better to compete on these job boards which allow to insert some cool works in your profile or even an entire portfolio. Because there is finite space available to upload your works, it is better to have projects in the portfolio, very similar to the ones required by employers; in this case, he will be more convinced that you are able to work at his standards.

Other job boards give the users the possibility of sending visitors to the online portfolio of any freelancer who has an account; this is really amazing and a lot of time is saved: the freelancer shouldn’t send tons of messages and the employers haven’t a full Inbox of requests.

Don’t Copy Paste a General Message!

A lot of freelancers consider that bidding on a lot of offers guarantees them a greater chance of gaining a client! Totally wrong!

Think of this: do you like a blog or a post with nothing new or interesting to say? Definitely not; what do you think, a client would like a general message with no ideas, just the simple “I can do it, hire me!”? So, even if you are losing a lot of time, be very specific with your replies. Instead of bidding on hundreds of opportunities, it is better to simply bid on ten jobs with a clear message given to the future employers, which contain specifications about the projects, your plan of work and how do you see things. I know that sometimes the time is very short and, all of us, when the clients are lacking, are disposed to make many compromises but the right and rich way is the one of well explained messages.

The messages exchanged between the person who posts the job and the freelancers are usually short and, in many cases, the opinion of the employer is based on these. It is much recommended to avoid a very flatterer style, but don’t fall in the other extremity, being rude. All freelancers should pay attention to the fact that the majority of the employers aren’t 100% professional and an appropriate message can be a decisive element.

Take Tests (if the job boards have this service)

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

The employers on job boards are various, from all around the world, and each one has his preconceived ideas about the future freelancer hired; thus, it is smart to promote yourself through all the ways that are possible. A good chance to be easily remarked is to pass as many tests as you can on the respective job board. It is a solid proof that someone really knows what he is saying about himself; you can’t be a good designer if you don’t pass a test about Photoshop CS3.

Ask for Feedback

This tip presumes that you have already won a previous project or you are currently working on it. In many cases, a happy and content employer forgets about the job posted and communicates directly with the specialist hired but never ignores the choice of giving proper feedback. Any project finished means a new brick in building your public reputation, but this construction is on a sandy surface without having testimonials and good feedback from the previous clients.

Stay Connected and Keep Yourself on Nodding Terms

instantShift - How to Be Competitive on Job Boards

Working on job boards supposes an interaction with a lot of people from all around the globe; it sounds a little bit weird but they can have connections between them and a good impression made on one customer could mean collaboration with other good clients. It is more than a smart move to keep a good relationship with the previous clients; you never know who his friends are or what his future projects are. It is the final purpose of any freelancer to convert a client from a job board into a constant client. In fact I believe that it is much better to have few but very serious and constant clients, than a lot of possible ones.

Competing on any job board isn’t an easy task and it is stupid to believe that it consists only of bidding and winning. I have competed on various job boards and it is not a shame to recognize that I have done many silly mistakes. It is ironic and it seems to be respecting the rules of Murphy but when someone is at the beginner level, he surely won’t find nothing relevant about how to succeed in these harsh competition; when he knows how to be competitive, articles like this are always at hand and of course they are boring. I really hope that this post will be useful, especially for the beginners but a brief reading is also welcomed for the people used with job boards.

Never Give Up

The last advice is to never give up; it is not a word in vain, I passed this period and it wasn’t easy for me, I believed that is impossible for me, I am not good and enough is enough. Thanks to God, I was lucky and I have received a good project and from then everything is possible for me now. Another important tip for beginners is to avoid competing at the same time on more job boards; personally I think it is hard to compete on a single market not to mention on several. Good luck!
In a nutshell, never give up; work hard and smart and the sun will rise on your alley as well.

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  1. Very nice article

  2. Nice overview and some handy tips. I myself in freelancing world for last 2 years and competing on job boards are very hard for newcomer like me. Really helpful resource.

  3. I’m with ELance since last 4 years and i must say, working with professionals is one thing but working with some of the brilliant mind in open market is totally different. Above tips are more or like essential to every freelancer but important to remember.

  4. Dominating out of the circle and trust are two things which can leads you to the top on these boards.

  5. Thanks for the good tip. :)

  6. Thanks for sharing such a nice article and many useful tips.

  7. Thanks all for your appreciation, I am really wondering how will evolve the freelancing movement but I believe that the importance of it will grow permanently. Anyway, good luck to all who are enjoying freelancing and freelance markets!

  8. Thanks for sharing nice article and accommodating tips.

  9. A good article, very well written. One thing that I hate about these websites is they seem to breed unrealistic proposals. I had a look at one the other day and the guy was offering £400 to anyone who could make him a website that pulls in £900 a month. There should be a vetting system for the people posting the jobs.

  10. Nice suggestions!

  11. Good tips. Thanks for sharing. Nice job.

  12. Hi, what do you think of, the only one free online freelance site for freelancers and buyers! Freelancers earn more without paying any commissions or fee. The site does not charge the contractor or the company after completion of the project.

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